Stardew Valley meets prehistoric times in Soda Den’s debut game, Roots of Pacha. Become part of a close-knit Stone Age community, discover new “ideas”, plant new crops, befriend animals, and help your village develop through the period in the simple but compelling farming simulator game. Roots of Pacha can be enjoyed alone or you and your friends can explore the early days of civilisation with up to four-player co-op.
Prepare for your Right of Passage
After a dispute with publisher Cryvito, Roots of Pacha was delisted from Steam. It has taken some time, but Soda Den finally released Roots of Pacha for PC and Mac on April 25th of this year, with its Playstation, Switch, and Xbox landing on the 28th November.
I’m in my cozy gaming era right now and was super excited to pick up Pacha on the Switch. With quirky NPCs and unique takes on minigames, it’s set itself up as a standout game in the farming simulator genre.
Developing ideas one carrot at a time
Roots of Pacha for the most part plays as a standard farming simulator. You collect materials, grow plants, and take care of animals to create produce that can be donated to your village to aid in its development. As players donate to the village, you start to receive contribution points which can be used to buy additional belt slots, character customisation items, furniture for your hut, and more.
There isn’t any combat in the game which may be a turn-off for some but Soda Den makes up for this with interesting minigames, opportunities for exploration, and events that make it so you don’t have the same repetitive day.
With the introduction of fishing and befriending animals to your community, Roots of Pacha introduces new takes on classic minigames which makes the most of beautiful music and amazing visuals.
Fishing takes on a visually appealing approach, letting you look into small areas that you’re working with and allowing you to choose exactly which fish you want to try and catch. It’s a very simple game mechanic, focusing more on carrying on the easy flow of the game rather than using a system similar to that of Stardew.
On the other end of minigames, befriending animals and bringing them to your village brings the amazing music of this game to the forefront as you use a flute to build a relationship with animals. It fits quite nicely and doesn’t get too repetitive as each type of animal has a different musical pattern that you need to learn.
Building a community
The community aspect of Roots of Pacha is central to the development of the story. Developing relationships with different NPCs allows you access to new development ideas and additional ways to build contribution points which are quite difficult to get in the early stages of the game.
To build relationships with NPCs you can talk to characters every day, offer them gifts twice a week, and also dance with them. The reaction to your dancing can be a good indicator of where your relationship has developed if you don’t want to constantly be checking the menu to see how many hearts you have. If you do feel like checking, the game also immediately tells you whether a character is romanceable from the offset and will help you develop the relationship by showing you where that character is on the map so you don’t have to waste your game time hunting them down.
Contribution points are one of the few letdowns in this game. It is the only way to help your clan discover new ways to thrive, however, the early days of the game are focused around farming and fishing, two things which don’t give you many points. At the beginning of the game, I was worried I was doing something wrong because of how difficult getting the points seemed to be.
Whilst the game is easy to get on with, there are a few issues where you get caught on the edges of rocks or items. You have to give the environment a wide berth so you don’t get stuck. It can get quite bad in the fields or the savannah where there’s a lot of grass or tall plants obstructing your view and it can interrupt the flow of the game if you’re in the zone.
Graphics & Audio
You can tell from the moment that you load the game up that the graphics are going to be next level. Even with the simplistic, pixelated design, Soda Den has managed to create some adorable moments between you and the different NPCs.
That being said, some of the graphics can be a little overwhelming. For example, if you don’t keep on top of the grass growing in the fields then it can become really difficult to see what’s going on. With the grass taking up so much space on the screen, you run the risk of spending time watering the same plants over and over again. This might not seem like too big of an issue however when you start with such a small amount of stamina clearing out the grass can take up your energy for the entire day and limit how much you get to do.
The importance of music is highlighted throughout Roots of Pacha and is reinforced by the simple yet catchy music that follows you through the game. There’s a lot of percussion which fits with the Stone Age theme and carries over into the stories of some of the characters who give up their musical instrument for the Rights of Passage ritual.
Making it to the next age
Farming Simulators can often feel repetitive and once that initial new game excitement wears off, so does the enjoyment. That is not the case with Roots of Pacha. Soda Den has done a wonderful job of making it easy to pick the game back up as there are always new ideas to develop with your village.
Several small, simple changes improve the quality of life of the game such as the earlier mentioned ability to find NPCs on the map so you don’t waste your day searching for someone. There is also the attitude to breeding animals, rather than it being a simple and adding baby versions of your farm animals, you can breed specific traits. It can be a bit of a pain to get used to however it adds incentive to continue playing.
Roots of Pacha is a cozy farming simulator that you can sit back and lose hours in with. It’s impossible to not compare it to games like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon but it stands on its own two feet with an interesting story, unique minigames, and quality-of-life updates. While it can be a bit clunky in certain aspects, the vibes are unmatched and leave me reaching for my Switch throughout the day to check on my animals, decorate my home, and talk to my favourite NPCs – looking at you, Garrek. If you’re a fan of cozy farming simulators then Roots of Pacha is definitely one that needs adding to your library.
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Roots of Pacha receives the Thumb Culture Platinum Award
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.