Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey finally makes its way to consoles this week. It is a neat survival game developed by Patrice Désilets (Assassins Creed Co-Creator) and his studio Panache Games and published by Private Division. The premise of the game is to go back to the ancient times where no humans wandered the earth and play as primates and survive evolution and all the threats the wild entails.
You first start off picking your lineage and what gender you want to be, which isn’t impactive, since the game features a “play as anyone” and permadeath kind of system. Since you will play through literally millions of years of ape evolution, all apes inevitably die, so you can switch and take control of any ape. This proves to be a necessary feature, because you will die even outside of old age.
The name of the game is exploring and experimenting; everything has multiple uses. It is what you will spend most of your time doing, figuring things out for yourself. Ancestors tutorial is relatively lax because of this, you can have some guidance, even though it is minimal. You will spend your time examining items and seeing how they interact with each other. Stacking sticks to see what they do, hitting rocks on sticks, seeing what foods hurt you, etc. In the long run, even though you are probably going to get stuck and not know what to do, it is satisfying when you figure out a new combination or thing to do, and you feel accomplished about your progress. There is also a vast world to explore with many unique locations and biomes such as the jungle and Savannah.
In this vast world, however, there naturally comes the infamous predators that lurches in the environments to continue the food tree. You may be above fish, but in the early game at least, you are not above things like crocodiles, massive snakes, sabertooth tigers, and more. The combat is rather hard, at first. You must time your counter-attack perfectly and have your stick pointed in the right direction. Once you get the hang of it however it does become much easier, but the fear of being sneak attacked never does quite go away, and failure can cause certain death or poisoning.
The game takes a certain inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You can climb anything in this game, seeing as you are an ape. You have a rather large stamina pool, as long as you keep yourself fed, watered, and rested. Ancestors are also something I would describe as a gorgeous game, especially as you advance and find things like waterfalls and rivers. The graphics are very good, along with the animations of the apes and animals, it all feels very organic. There is also a day-night cycle in the game.
Part of “leveling up” and advancing your apes through generations involves evolving their brain, which you get more points to do so by using your senses and examining the environment with whatever sense. If you use smelling enough, you’ll unlock neurons to smell further. The caveat to this is that when you change generation, you have limited points to unlock these neurons, so you need to change generations and evolve as you see fit. You unlock things faster by carrying kids around you, seeing as they are watching you, and it is easier for kids to learn things at a young age and perform the act of monkey see monkey do.
I played the game on a Xbox One X and experienced no bug issues, so it seems very well optimized for the console. The only downside I can say to this game is that it gets repetitive and can feel more grindy the more you progress. Later in the game, you will have the cycle of evolving and moving down. So it suffers from the repetitiveness and same formula of gameplay throughout its extensive around 40-50 hour gameplay length, so it might be worth taking a break and returning to it once you get it down so you don’t become bored. The gameplay of exploring and surviving is fun though, it is just that it can and will wear on you more than likely as you make the same spears, eating the same food, and doing a lot of the same stuff as you progress.