Roots of Pacha Review – Rocking the Stone Age

Roots of Pacha takes inspiration from Stardew Valley while innovating on mechanics for a familiar yet refreshing experience.
Roots Of Pacha Review
Image: Soda Den

The farming game genre, like many others, seems to share a specific feeling between titles. Whole, friendly, and often designed in a 2D pixel style, they follow in the proven successful formula of a smash hit genre title. This isn’t abnormal, every genre does it, and it doesn’t necessarily make the games uncreative either.

In the case of the farming genre, games seem to take inspiration from Stardew Valley, an incredibly successful farming game that captivated audiences and seems to have single-handedly jump-started the genre’s popularity. Roots of Pacha is no different, with the Stardew Valley inspiration presented clearly for players to see. Roots of Pacha also takes its time to innovate and expand on Stardew Valley’s gameplay, paying homage to its inspiration while expanding on the formula to stand out as its own title.

Roots of Pacha is a farming simulation game set in the stone age. You work as a part of a tribe with just under 30 members to create a life together in a new land. Rather than a pressing tale of survival, Roots of Pacha is a relaxing tale of you tilling the land and shaping a brighter future for your people, making friends and falling in love along the way.

Roots of Pacha opens up with your tribe passing through the mountains, discussing the excitement around your upcoming rite of passage. You get to know a few character’s names as they discuss the importance of the event. As you prepare for the big moment, your tribe takes the chance to reflect on the circumstances that led them into this new land.

Roots Of Pacha Opening
Image: Soda Den

Following warnings from the spirits, your tribe’s leader takes your people away from their homelands and into the unknown, escaping a forewarned catastrophe that would surely spell doom for the tribe. As their way back home is sealed by a great earthquake, the tribe begins to wonder if leaving home was a mistake, lost in a great savannah without a sign of the precious Pacha tree they were told to look for. That is until you and your tribe’s leader find the great tree, and set up camp amongst its roots, creating a new home for your tribe.

Roots Of Pacha Tree
Image: Soda Den

After this cutscene, the game opens up to the new tribe, and you are given a few tasks in preparation for your upcoming rite of passage. In addition to starting the tribe’s new farm, you’re tasked with meeting with all 27 of the tribe’s members and getting a feel for their personalities and functions in the tribe.

The gameplay in Roots of Pacha is pretty straightforward. Everything happens on a 2D grid, and you’re given a toolbar to interact with the world around you. Select a tool, click on something in front of you, and you interact with that object. Most of what you’ll be doing in the game is clearing out areas to till the dirt and plant seeds.

One way in which Roots of Pacha innovates on the Stardew Valley design is by giving tools and seeds their own unique inventory slots. This is shown on the left-hand side of the UI, where you can toggle between your current seeds and tools using hotkeys. This makes inventory management a lot for forgiving, as you don’t have 4-5 slots taken up by your tools.

Roots Of Pacha Village
Image: Soda Den

Rather than farming for profit, Roots of Pacha sees you doing what you can to contribute to the tribe. This is reflected in ‘contributions’, a currency earned by giving objects to the tribe. Calling it a currency might not be correct though, as you don’t spend it in any way. Contributions is a collective number that simply grows, and the larger it gets, the more your tribe can innovate. We’ll go over innovations in a second.

When you aren’t farming, you’ll be helping out members of your tribe. The needs of the many are tracked by your journal, which is full of “Smoke signals” (missions) showing when someone in the tribe needs something done. Helping them out increases your relationship and rewards you with objects you might not find on your own.

Roots Of Pacha Journal
Image: Soda Den

Increasing your relationship with tribe members goes further than you might think, as the game has a romance system. I appreciated that the game had a wealth of characters to romance (11 total,) and that you could date the bunch at once. However, you can only choose one to have children with in the end, so you won’t be playing the field forever.

As a stone age tribe, you start with only the most basic of tools for taming the environment. You start with a sharp piece of flint as your tool for everything, and though you can craft better tools, you need to first make discoveries to unlock the recipes to create them.

Innovation is the coolest part of the game in my opinion. Discovering pickaxes, backpacks, and better ways to create fire and live together makes the game really feel like a stone age adventure. The sense of discovery helps the game further feel different from others in the genre, making the world around you feel untamed and exciting. This is a feeling, I think, that would be hard to pull off without the game’s unique setting.

Finally, what can be said about the game’s graphics besides that they’re beautiful? The game just looks great, with a bright pixelated art style that reflects the sort of feel-good nature of the game. I will say that the character sprites look a bit too much like Stardew Valley, though their unique neolithic hairstyles help to separate the appearances a bit.

The Final Word

Roots of Pacha is a game that innovates on the farming sim design, offering familiar gameplay with fresh new mechanics and a unique setting. Fans of the genre or those looking to get into it should definitely give Roots of Pacha a try.

7

Roots of Pacha was reviewed on the PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Roots of Pacha is available on Steam.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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