Chart eight million years of evolution history.
It’s hard to find games in the current market’s AAA space that exude creativity and are willing to take risks with unconventional ideas- and that’s where the indie scene comes in. Patrice Desilets, who at Ubisoft revitalized Prince of Persia, before going on to create, Assassin’s Creed, is now in that indie space, and his studio’s first game, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is looking like a very interesting one. With its launch right around the corner, in this feature we’ll be talking about fourteen things that you need to know about this intriguing not-so-little game.
Ancestors isn’t just giving us a historic setting- no, it’s taking things a step further, and going full-on pre-historic. Players will begin the game playing as an ape, and will be tasked with ensuring its survival while helping it and its clan grow and survive. This is a game about charting the evolution of what would go on to become the early, early human, and ensuring your survival in the harsh, wild wilderness of pre-historic Earth promises to be a fascinating experience.
8 MILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION
Let’s stick with that central premise for just a bit longer, because Ancestors looks like it’s going to double down on it in a lot of ways. The entire game, in fact, from start to finish, will chart eight million years of evolution of an ape clan’s evolution (more on this in a bit). By the time the game is finished, we still won’t have reached the birth of homo sapiens, though, so don’t expect to see the world change that radically.
As we mentioned, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey charts eight million years of evolution, but we obviously won’t be playing as one ape who somehow lives for eight million years. No, we will, instead, be taking control of an entire ape clan, and moving from ape to ape and going down the clan’s lineage as time in the game moves forward.
A WORLD FULL OF HAZARDS
Set in pre-historic times, you can probably guess that surviving in the wilds won’t be an easy task. It’s going to be just you versus the elements, and you’ll be faced with threats of all kinds- from the environment itself to predators in the wild to sicknesses, injuries, fatigue, starvation, and a lot more. Eating a new type of food for the first time, leaving your injuries untended and bleeding out, and not getting enough sleep are just a few of the ways you can get yourself killed.
Coming from the guy who made Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed, it’s no surprise that climbing and parkour are going to be a major mechanic in Ancestors. You primary method of traversing the world will be by climbing trees and cliffs in the environment, which, given that you’re playing as an ape, makes a lot of sense.
Parkour in Ancestors is going to have some stakes though, and won’t be as automated as Desilets’ earlier games. Survival is a key element of the experience here, which means that even as you’re climbing trees, you’ll have to ensure that you’re doing it properly. Slipping and falling or misjudging a jump can lead to broken bones or other injuries, which have a lasting impact on the ape you’re playing as.
FEAR AND HYSTERIA
Keeping safe from predators will also be something you’ll have to be mindful of. When you’re being chased by predators, you’ll enter a state called the Fear Zone, leaving your vision hazy and impaired. While in the Fear Zone, if you cannot make it to a ball of light in the environment in time, you’ll enter a state called “hysteria”, which will have even more adverse impacts on your well-being.
What exactly does charting millions of years of evolution mean in terms of gameplay mechanics, though? Well, everything from standing upright to walking on two legs to learning new hunting techniques to building new tools and weapons, to gaining knowledge through things you experience during gameplay that will aid survival going forward- all of this is stuff that will count as progression for your ape. These new abilities that you unlocked are represented in a skill tree, in which you’re essentially developing the ape’s nervous system.
So what happens if and when the ape you’re playing as dies? Well, as we’ve discussed, you take on the role of another ape in the clan you’re playing as. All the knowledge you’ve gained and skills you’ve unlocked as previous apes are permanent unlocks, meaning that any and all progress will carry over to the next ape.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey takes place in the pre-historic jungles of Africa, and there’s going to be a lot to see in the game’s world. As you explore more, you’ll unlock new areas of the world and come across new threats and opportunities for gaining new knowledge. Once you’ve unlocked new areas, you can even begin a new game starting in that particular area.
Ancestors will give players three different options in terms of modes depending on what sort of an experience you’re looking for. First Time Experience is what you’ll begin with, and it’ll come complete with tutorials and objectives. Survival will task you with surviving in the wilderness all by yourself. Meanwhile, Custom will allow you to start a new game in one of the areas that you’ve unlocked, while also being able to set the number of clan members that you want.
The real question is- how long is this game going to be? 8 million years is a pretty long time, and playing through that entire time period has got to be a pretty meaty experience, right? Right you are. According to the developers, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be roughly 40-50 hours long in total.
EPIC GAMES STORE EXCLUSIVE
Like so may other major and semi-major releases these days, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey won’t be available on Steam at launch. On PC, the game will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for a year- which isn’t all that surprising, considering the fact that a whole lot of Take-Two games have been pledging their exclusivity to Epic’s storefront of late, from The Outer Worlds (also published by Ancestors publisher and Take-Two label Private Division) and Borderlands 3 (published by Take-Two label 2K Games).
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will be seeing a fragmented launch. Though the game is due out for PC on August 27, which is right around the corner, console owners will have to wait a bit longer. On PS4 and Xbox One, the game launches later this year, in December. A more specific console release date hasn’t yet been confirmed.