Developer: Soda Den
Release Date: April 25th, 2023
Platforms: PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Reviewed on: Steam Deck
Please note: a key was provided by Crytivo for this review.
Farming sims aren’t a new concept, but Roots of Pacha takes us back to the Stone Age where you establish a life with your clan in a new land. In your community, you grow crops, befriend animals, contribute to your tribe, romance a partner, and help uncover ideas to advance as a civilization.
This project began in Kickstarter, and two fellow Boss Rush Writers supported the project:
It was the multiplayer mode that drove me to back it…Having played through a chunk of spring, it’s got a lot of what I love about farming sims but makes sure to put its own spin on it.-Mary Helen
“I supported Roots of Pacha because it offered innovations and refinements to the farming sim/life sim genre that I had wanted for years, and it offered a fleshed out co-op. Alongside that, the theme was unique and seemed like a lot of fun. Playing it, I appreciate how beautifully paced Roots of Pacha is, without the downtime some other games in the genre have. While I’m not far enough to offer a true review, I love it so far and I recommend it.-James
Roots of Pacha has the basics of what we love best about farming and life sims such as (but not limited to):
- Farming and seasons
- Use and improvement of tools
- Group celebrations (aka. festivals)
- Friendships and love interests
…BUT it plays around with other concepts, breathing fresh ideas into the genre.
Graphics and Sound
Roots of Pacha has the adorable pixel art we love to see in games like Stardew Valley; however, the developers add a special touch in the character art during dialogue. I get the best of both worlds with pleasing, colorful pixels, and there is decent customization for your characters (e.g. face tattoos). When speaking with someone, you get beautiful drawings of the characters that will flesh them out beyond pixels. The world is also colorful and feels alive. There’s lots of flora to discover, and various animals roam the forrest.
The sound in Roots of Pacha matches the pleasant graphics. The music marries well to the theme, helps immerse me in the world, and the cherry on top of the cake include the attention to detail. Various sound effects match your actions as you till the field or fish.
Remember when I said about utilizing what we love about farming sims but bringing more to the table? In Roots of Pacha, instead of selling food and wares to increase wealth, you contribute to your tribe. Your contributions will increase the community’s prosperity.
Development and progression as a society is a major factor in the game that I found most interesting. Throughout gameplay, NPCs will have an idea–such a digging a well, growing plants for their seeds, or finding a way to bond with wild animals–that you can help achieve. When you gather the materials or items needed to bring the idea to fruition, you end up with an”upgrade” of sorts, that makes life management more efficient.
One of these ideas, attuning to animals, is one of my favorites. To bond with wild animals, you play a flute and engage in a rhythm mini-game. It’s such a fun, non-stressful gimmick that had me wandering the forrest to find any animal I could charm. It was rewarding once I bonded with the animal and, for example, bring them home as pets.
I also want to mention their helpful map system. The UI is a little complex and overwhelming at first, but I got used to it relatively quickly. In the map section, you can location members of your tribe and the locations of plants and wild animals. I found it very useful in planning out my day.
There are small but powerful twists that Roots of Pacha provide. Examples include a sun-dial-like means to track time (versus an actual clock), harvesting seeds in the wild to grow your plants (versus buying seeds at a store), and fishing with your stone tool. Fishing has been a stable mini-game in franchises beyond farming sims. While fun, I know it can become stale and tedious, and Roots of Pacha mixes it up by having you follow a fish’s shadow, and when you’ve tracked it long enough (via a meter) without scaring it, you strike! There is also your standard “cave” section, but instead of mindlessly harvesting minerals for profit, there are elements of spirituality as you try and navigate your way through mysterious passages. To summarize, these simple changes truly immerse your in its intended setting.
Because it has all the basics with fresh twists, there’s not much I have with regards to critique. One quality of life improvement would be a fast travel option as you explore the depths of the cave [Author’s Note: I finally figured it out–which is great, but it wasn’t obvious at first blush]. You are also limited to two gifts per week per person. Lastly, it took me some time to differentiate collectable items in the wild versus non-collectables. There are times where I often overlook oregano or a flower because they look similarly to plants that I can’t interact with. It took me longer that I should’ve to discover I could shake trees for their pinecones as well. These are minor and rarely break my immersion to the point where I stop enjoying the game.
There is so much to love about Roots of Pacha. It provides a fresh spin on farming sim games. With delightful graphics, sound, and community-focused narrative, it’s hard to put down. It’s casual enough for me to play a day at a time when I am busy, but its narrative-forward gameplay to advance civilization always tempts me to keep playing. I look forward to continue logging more hours and perhaps try co-op mode. I highly recommend Roots of Pacha to farming sim veterans and casual gamers alike!
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