Roots of Pacha looks to be everything I wanted from Stardew Valley and more

My character getting up to shenanigans in Roots of Pacha
(Image credit: Soda Den)

Although still in its alpha stages, Roots of Pacha already has the potential to overtake its farming sim counterparts set in the modern day. At first glance, it's easy to assume another duplicate of the much-adored Stardew Valley, but where Stardew came a cropper for me, Roots of Pacha seems to fill in the gaps with more intuitive tool systems, and a welcome, communal approach to farming.

The devs at fledgling studio Soda Den, after a successful Kickstarter run and heaps of attentive tweaking, have begun to cultivate a serene setting and a wholesome, captivating narrative—one that even can be shared with friends in multiplayer mode.

Through it, we follow the traditions, innovations and foibles of the peaceful, prehistoric settlement of Pacha—a fictional village inspired by a diverse range of cultures. In a genre where most games are set in a relatively modern world, with refrigerators and automatic milking machines, Roots of Pacha goes right back to the start, to the birth of agriculture itself. 

You can't just buy seeds in a shop. You have to discover wheat, forage for root-veg, and impress the animals of the forest with gifts and music, like a stone-age pied piper. And it's not just the prehistoric twist that sets Roots of Pacha apart from other farming sims, either. 

Picture this, you're pre-Elvis—that's Elvis before blue suede shoes were invented. You've been deliberating how to improve the village's quality of life with your adoptive parents and a few of the other settlers, each with their own suggestions. Tracking the sun across the sky is a great idea, and the invention of the bridge is sure to create a stir, but all these innovations are making your (somehow) perfectly maintained quiff spin.

My character getting up to shenanigans in Roots of Pacha

(Image credit: Soda Den)

To recharge (and you can just ignore everyone to farm if you like), you retreat to the fields and beaches for a spot of fishing, and to clear some rocks and weeds so you can finally make way for the beautiful smallholding you've been planning. But what's this, you only have a sharp stone in hand? No hammer, pick, axe, sickle or even a fishing pole? No problem!

Your hand axe does it all. This supreme multitool approach right from the start is much appreciated when you're busy filling up your satchel with new kinds of root veg and magic mushrooms. It means you can get all your menial tasks underway straight off, fishing included.

I'm pretty enamoured with the fishing system too. It's a little strange to get the hang of, but once you figure it out, it's so much less stressful than Stardew's fishing palaver.

Any tools you do acquire to improve your yield don't take up normal inventory spaces, either. They live on their own little wheel separate from your other items, as do the many seeds gathered while out scavenging in the wilds.

Once you've caught a whopper, or harvested some carrots of historically accurate colour, you can place them in the community pot as a contribution. The more contributions you make, the more elaborate ideas you can develop to improve the settlement. Otherwise, you can keep them for recipes, smoke to preserve them, even gift them to a friend, or prospective spouse.

There's no need to search the wiki for their location, or commit their daily schedule to memory.

When you're off looking for characters to collude with, there's no need to search the wiki for their location, or commit their daily schedule to memory either. You can just spot them live on the map, which makes advancing the narrative so much less of a pain.

Right now it's also impossible to accidentally reap your crops, and while it might seem inconsequential to some, the fact you can not only weave through weeds but also that no crops block your way is revolutionary. Even vine plants you can just shimmy over like they're nothing. No more being concerned about which seeds need to be planted in rows, just vast, mixed-crop fields as far as the eye can see.

There is so much more to say, but right now I'm too busy looking forward to discovering ostrich mounts, and auto-watering contraptions for my crops.

The devs are aiming for a late 2022 release for Roots of Pacha, with plenty more updates on the way before then. There's a hugely welcoming Discord channel if you want to get into the community, and help them improve the game with any suggestions. 

I'm just hoping they add blue dye and suede, so I can complete my character's look. Now to figure out what to do with this poop I just picked up, and ponder why, strangely, no one will dance around the fire with me.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.