Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey4th October 2019
I love survival games. Getting stranded somewhere, having to find food and shelter, having to gather materials and use them to create essential tools, and just doing your best to survive. Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the ultimate survival game.
When playing survival games, not only do you know the sort of thing you need to do, your character also knows what they have to do. They’ll even provide you with hints as to how to proceed. In this game, although you very well may discern what you have to do, the apes you play as have no idea what any of those concepts even are. There is no hand-holding: your character won’t tell you when you find the correct type of materials to create something. You need to inspect everything, experiment – by which I mean bash stuff together until something happens. A survival game where the concept of ‘tool‘ doesn’t even exist yet. To me, that’s amazing, I love that. In many games, I start getting bored once the starting difficulty eases up and you move onto more complex crafting. I like that initial rush for survival, and that feeling sticks around for much longer in this game.
In most survival games, there’s usually another objective, other than just surviving. Whether it’s curing an alien disease and escaping a hostile alien planet (hey there, Subnautica), or fighting past cannibals to find your son (lookin’ at you The Forest). Here, you need to learn, make babies, mutate and evolve. …and not kill most of your clan by falling out of trees (I’m sorry my ape family, you didn’t deserve such ignoble deaths).
Ancestors may not be to everyone’s taste. For one, it’s quite punishing. In the intro, you’re told they won’t help you much, and they’re definitely not lying. There isn’t a tangible objective, though admittedly, I may just have not found it yet. Also, the overall pace is quite slow, because evolution, although the pacing of the daily life of a controlled ape is a bit faster, because predators.
If you like survival games and don’t mind being punished for not knowing what to do, you’ll probably like it. If you like exploration and appreciate a bit of a grind, then you might really enjoy it. The only thing I’m not personally keen on are the controls. I just feel like my speed and reflexes are so slow. And I’m the sort of person who grabs a falling mug full of scalding tea before my brain registers that it’s a ridiculous thing to do. I make terrible decisions, all the time, but I don’t do slow. It just feels like I’m trying to run an obstacle course underwater.
That is my only complaint, though from what I’ve seen, the internet has many many many more. It really does just come down to what you find enjoyable. I like spending hours monkeying around, discovering things, and smashing random items together. I get frustrated sometimes, of course, a survival game in ironman mode is always going to be frustrating at times. But I do enjoy it, particularly when I’ve worked something out (finally). It also helps that the game is beautiful, and has great music – I really wouldn’t mind there being a soundtrack to buy.
Panache Digital Games tried something new with this one, so I can’t really think of any suitable comparisons. So if this game doesn’t jump out at you immediately, you might want to watch some gameplays and get a feel for it before committing.
I personally jumped headfirst. …into the ground. …and the river. …and some rocks. …and a jaguar.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be on PS4 and Xbox eventually, from what I understand, but right now it’s only available on PC – and only at Epic Games, with a ‘to be determined’ on Steam. I’ll stick a little Steam widget in anyway since I think it should update as game details are added on Steam itself.
I feel a bit bad about not including any of my own screenshots, other than the featured image, but all my screenshots were trash compared to the official ones – I would really love a photo mode in this game. I’ll be updating the images with my own screenshots, if I manage to take any decent ones.