author: Patrick Manelski
Finally! A Worthy Successor to Stardew Valley! Roots of Pacha Appreciation
Roots of Pacha is a prehistoric farm simulator that definitely deserves your attention. Not only does it do everything as well as Stardew Valley does, but it also adds some unique ideas! It is definitely this year's gem.
I have a huge weak spot for farm simulators like Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley. This third title is actually the last really successful attempt by this genre to steal my free time. I spent over 200 hours with this production, and I didn't believe that anything could possibly compare to it. I tried out all the competitors that appeared after the release of Stardew Valley. Therefore, I am happy to announce that I have finally come across a worthy alternative in the form of Roots of Pacha.
Roots of Pacha in a nutshell:
- a farming game like Stardew Valley, but set in prehistoric times;
- instead of a city, a village where every resident is important;
- significant relationships with tribesmen and a meaningful storyline;
- four seasons, each offering its own crops;
- inventory divided into seeds, tools, and items.
- a plethora of engaging minigames and thrilling bonus features;
- no combat, greater emphasis on casual gameplay;
- full version offers great multiplayer.
Stardew Valley, just prehistoric?
Roots of Pacha is, in essence, a prehistoric Stardew Valley. If you love the latter, you will undoubtedly enjoy the former. This time, however, you will not inherit your grandfather's farm and you will not have to help the township. Instead, you will go back to the Stone Age and together with your tribe try to survive in the wilderness.
Setting a farming game in such unusual realities is what I consider hitting the bull's-eye. I've grown tired of tomatoes, I'm sick of hens and cows. Instead, I happily welcomed the peculiar tubers, goats, and mammoths. And money? That hasn't been invented yet, so long live barter with tribesmen! And the currency is... contribution to the development of the village!
This, by the way, is the main theme of Roots of Pacha, namely FAMILY COLLABORATION! At every step, the importance of the entire tribe is emphasized, with each member contributing to the community's prosperity. And indeed, everyone has their own tasks to do, and at the end of the day, there's a summary of the progress we'd have made. This, in turn, translates into new technologies and tools!
I love it!
Swapping typical NPCs with fellow tribesmen is a fantastic idea that not only puts Roots of Pacha ahead of Stardew Valley, but also other farming games. The developers used the prehistoric vibe to tell an interesting, yet simple story. It's also an element that I miss in this type of productions – a non-intrusive storyline that has meaning. Here, our abilities depend on the progress we can make, which likely won't suit everyone – there just isn't as much freedom from day one as in other titles.
On the other hand, we actually get to know other villagers through this. They take an active part in the development of the tribe, and also help us by giving us more ideas to make our lives easier, and this hides an element of gameplay aptly called "ideas." In this way, we gain new technologies while maintaining immersion! This simple concept makes the gameplay much more enjoyable.
The innovation with regard to rearranging the standard equipment also deserves applause. In Roots of Pacha tools are in one menu, seeds in another, and everything else is kept in a pouch. This makes it much easier to manage items, although it takes a while to get used to the controls. I strongly recommend playing on a pad, but mouse + keyboard is also working well enough.
Learn from the masters
Roots of Pacha is full of minor improvements, which is clear when we compare Stardew Valley to it – the developers have clearly played this title and learned their lesson. For instance, the map shows the specific locations of fellow tribesmen, and during crafting, we receive information on how long it will take, for example, to grill a fish. There's also room for fishing, a very enjoyable mini-game. Anyway, there's much more mini games here!
There are no animal traders on the prehistoric farm, so they need to be tamed, with which happens during an easy rhythm game. In the mine, simple puzzles await, which introduce the shamanistic aspects of Roots of Pacha. There are also mounts to help you navigate the map, and there's no combat as such, which I was relieved to learn. While it would have fit the setting, I wasn't too fond of combat in Stardew Valley and I don't feel disappointed by its absence. Primarily because the pace of gameplay in Roots of Pacha is much more leisurely and relaxing.
I also got the impression that when it comes to events, the fun seems to be much livelier. Every now and then something is happening, and the holidays are interactive – there are no mere scenes to go through and forget. There is a straightforward character development system in place, featuring bonuses, goal mechanics with rewards to achieve, quite flexible construction options, as well as an expanded range of choices related to crop cultivation and animal husbandry. It's just bigger and better!
No Early Access, but there's multiplayer!
Finally, I would like to mention the two most significant advantages, which are the absence of Early Access and the presence of multiplayer. Roots of Pacha was released in a complete version, which is unusual for an indie game, and which I really appreciate. I don't know about you, but I've had it up to here with half-baked games and waiting yet another year for them to be fully cooked and ready to serve. Unfortunately, the majority of titles in this genre suffer from this issue, with Coral Island at the forefront (which I am eagerly awaiting, by the way!). Here, on the other hand, we have something complete, for which alone this project deserves applause.
I was also surprised by the really well-executed multiplayer. It's clear that Roots of Pacha was developed with cooperative gameplay in mind, and it performs quite well in this aspect. It is actually possible to create a real tribe with friends! In all this, in principle, I can only complain about the price – Roots of Pacha is a bit too expensive in my opinion. $25 for an indie farming sim is quite a lot, especially when you consider Stardew Valley is practically half the price.
I have a gut feeling that the game set in prehistoric times will not generate much interest and will not gain proper media exposure. It may even go unnoticed, which would be a shame, because it's a real gem that I intend to spend long hours with. So, I'm counting on the developers of Roots of Pacha to keep updating their game, even through paid add-ons! Why is that? With only a few hours behind me, and I already want even more of this fossil! So allow me, dear friends, to swiftly hop onto my trusty ostrich steed and gallop my way back into the exhilarating realm of farming in Stone Age.
Patrick Manelski | Gamepressure.com