Review: Roots of Pacha
Developer: Soda Den
Available on: PC (Steam)* in development for console release
Review on: PC (Steam)*
I've played many farming and life simulation games, from Stardew Valley to Story of Seasons and much more. Most have been pretty great in their own ways, offering unique takes on gameplay, mechanics, simulated community building, and story. When Roots of Pacha came across my emails, I knew it was one I wanted to check out. But what makes Roots of Pacha unique? Is it just another farming and life simulation like many others?
The answer is yes and no. Roots of Pacha has plenty of the same mechanics: Farm stuff, gather resources, build community, etc. However, Roots of Pacha does as it's titled; it takes us back to a time of early agriculture with the goal of building a thriving community set in the Stone Age. It's not a wholly accurate telling of the beginnings of human agriculture and animal domestication, but an almost magical one.
There's something about playing in a far simpler time before technology or even modern institutions involving money. Interestingly, the point of Roots of Pacha isn't even survival. It's to create a thriving community by growing ideas inasmuch as players grow crops. Discoveries are made by participating in the community rather than trying to make as much money as possible for personal gain. Roots of Pacha rewards participation with a sort of social credit in place of money whenever players drop off resources to the town's central hub. Doing this not only grows personal social credit but contributes to the whole town, and something about that makes this game's community feel more impactful.
Helping community members means gaining new ideas for new technologies, so talking to community members is more of a must than what I've seen in games where those interactions are often optional. As friendships develop, contributions to the community grow, and the ideas of community members are further developed through players' actions, and their discoveries get bigger and bigger. These discoveries almost make the relationships with the various characters feel more meaningful. Almost. Games can only do some much.
Roots of Pacha isn't particularly sophisticated, but it takes what it has and makes something fun enough to keep playing but simple enough to be relaxing. The pixelated aesthetic of the game is rather cute. Mechanics are simple and typical enough for a farming and life sim. I found the character customization to be rather good, with plenty of options for players who may want to play as a character that isn't gender restricted.
I was particularly fond of the animal taming mechanics, a rhythm mini-game involving a flute that lures the animal into wanting to join the village. There are plenty of really cool animals available for taming. I was pretty excited to tame a Buffalo, as that's one of my favorite animals.
Roots of Pacha has plenty going for it that makes it ridiculously enjoyable to keep playing. The story is mystical in nature, reminiscent of early Indigenous cultures. It's not exact, but as someone from an Indigenous culture, for me, the game does a good job of creating a general sense of early tribal culture without being offensive or stereotypical. The mystical elements presented in a fantastical way that is intrinsic to developing the community, and its technologies help with that. I do kind of wish the devs chose a specific Indigenous culture to make an early agricultural simulation of instead of making up a broad one, but with all the elements included, it made for a good fictional plot.
Everything players can grow, make, and do require some discovery. This element of Roots of Pacha is perhaps the best part of it all, as it makes exploring and getting to know community members worth doing.
All in all, Roots of Pacha is a fantastic farming and life simulation game that fans of the genre should certainly check out and is easy enough to get into for players who may not be as versed in the genre. This is certainly one of those indie games that deserve to be played and cherished for being made.
Oh, and it has pretty great controller support on PC too. *Roots of Pacha is currently dealing with some problems between the developers and publisher, we'll update this post when there's an update on the game's status on Steam. We hope things are resolved to the benefit of both parties and especially for gamers who have been enjoying the game.