While the indie market is a truly diverse, creative, and unique aspect of the video game community, once in a while a title comes along the shapes a lot of future releases thanks to its innovation and popularity. Stardew Valley, ConcernedApe's 2016 simulation RPG that saw players build up their farm and integrate themselves into a town, was just such a game. It has been the basis for many subsequent titles which tried to capture the same magic as Stardew Valley, with varying degrees of success.
One game that has clear Stardew Valley inspirations, but still manages to carve out its own unique niche in the farming sim genre, is the upcoming Roots of Pacha. Soda Den and Cryptivo's adorable RPG has a lot of similarities to Stardew Valley on the surface, but a quick glimpse beyond the cartoonish, pixel-based aesthetic shows that Roots of Pacha has so much more going for it than just a Stardew Valley-inspired sim.
Roots of Pacha: A Fun Farming Sim
The basic elements are there for a typical indie farming sim. Players must clear the weeds and debris from their settlement in order to establish their farm and help develop their community, but Roots of Pacha adds some really handy elements that show how attentive it is to the needs of players. Instead of an array of various tools that gamers need to switch between, the would-be farmer just needs their sharp stone in hand to tackle any problem. Crops cannot be accidentally culled, and players can move through their growing produce with ease instead of being blocked by towering crops or having to awkwardly navigate rows of plants.
Roots of Pacha is still in its alpha stages after a great Kickstarter campaign, but it's well on its way to being a top-tier example of its genre. It takes a lot of the elements that players would expect in a farming sim, but with the additional twist of a Stone Age setting. This isn't just a way to thematically or visually set it apart from other games, but it brings a new level of challenge to the gameplay as well. Unlike Stardew Valley, players can't just visit the local shop to purchase seeds or the latest milking machine. They need to invent, discover, and innovate as they go, getting help from their community as they develop into a more evolved and efficient group.
Stardew Valley, Roots of Pacha: Building A Community
Roots of Pacha was also developed with multiplayer and co-op in mind. In addition to getting to know the tight-knit cast of characters that players can befriend and even romance, they can invite people from other communities to join them. Gamers can work to build their villages up together with friends as they share resources and insights and overcome challenges.
Players have the chance to ride a variety of animals to get around, and NPCs will even be marked on the map so they don't have to waste time trying to chase characters down. They can indulge in a spot of fishing, explore the local environment as they gather all the things they need for a thriving community, and even engage in primitive festivals to get to know their fellow villagers and celebrate their various survival successes. Roots of Pacha may have been inspired by Stardew Valley and it will certainly please fans of ConcernedApe's farming sim, but it's also looking like a great game in its own right with some interesting innovations and a unique setting.
Roots of Pacha is set for release in late 2022 for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.