Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Review

Release Date
August 27, 2019
Private Division
Panache Digital Games
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on
PC (Steam)
Review copy provided by
Private Division

Survival video games have quite given a lot of players some decent challenge, but that never stopped them from learning every curve that it throws. Games like these don’t hand-hold players but encourage them to be curious, to experiment in builds, to make them explore. That’s the beauty of games like Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. We learn from things we try, we evolve and adapt, have a sense of fear. But adapting isn’t a sweet tune that would ring in your ear when you play the game, unfortunately.

That’s what I initially felt about Panache Digital Games’ ape survival game, an idea that would have been great if pulled off correctly. Instead, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey has completely evolved my experience in games like this for better or worse.

It doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, no, it doesn’t mean it’s a good game either. There are a handful of interesting mechanics that would reel you in for some survival escapade, but it wouldn’t last that long.

You’re already warned when you start the game that it wouldn’t help you and you have to be a lot curious to survive – “We won’t help you much”. Such encouraging words as you blindly begin your mission to expand your tribe, to look for other areas to settle, flirt with other apes and potentially mate to grow your clan. There’s unfortunately no clear goal but to simply invoke the meaning of evolution.

It’s your responsibility to make sure the ape you’re controlling is getting enough sleep, food, and water. You will have to figure out how to control your ape’s hysteria when its dopamine becomes too low because of being in unfamiliar territory. When your ape gets injured, you’re not exactly taught how to stop bleeding or get the poison out of your system. It’s tedious, yes, but that’s the point of games like these which makes it enjoyable. You need to have the “patience” because if you don’t then you might have to look into other games to play instead.

As an ape, you also have to develop motor and intellectual skills in order for you to pass it on to the next generation of apes. This involves having your ape hold things and analyze them to know its use. Like a rock, for example, holding it and throwing the rock can develop motor skills to further enhance how your ape can adapt, and still end up wondering what you can do with it. You can also pick up a berry, examine it, and potentially eat the berries without knowing if it’s poisonous or not. It’s a matter of trial and error, but it gets to a point that it just becomes frustrating.

You’re literally an ignorant ape and you won’t be able to progress if you stay within your comfort zone. I’ve gone out from being safe and explored the area, tried to examine as many things in my surrounding to develop intelligence but instead, my ape ended up in the belly of an African Rock Python. And there, I just lost a well-developed ape that I’ve emotionally gotten attached to for more than 10 hours of playthrough. Sorrowful as it may sound, it’s not a good way to lose a lot of your progress by making one mistake. It’s punishing.

There’s a lot of things to look after and learn. This is how in-depth the gameplay is and you’ll definitely have a good time learning these new things. It’s like every encounter, place, or interaction you do, it’s a new skill acquired. It’s quite rewarding, actually, but that’s that. Then everything becomes shamefully repetitive once you’ve already learned the ropes.

It’s worth noting that the game performs impressively well. Since its launch last year, Ancestors has gotten tons of updates that improved the overall stability of the game. Performance is not a problem, it’s consistent with its frames-per-second and I’m glad to say you wouldn’t have a hard time running on a mid-range PC.

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will give the survival experience to you lightly. It punishes you for being careless, but even more when you go back to the beginning and re-do the same thing all over and over again. Initially, you’ll feel rewarded for learning the game, but it disappointingly ends up in repetition and you’ll eventually just close the game and call it quits for mankind’s evolution.

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Review
Score Definition
We want to emphasize that 5 will always be the “average” number, not 7. So by far, it’s 50% great and it’s also 50% bad.
In-depth Gameplay Mechanics
Easy to understand Progression
Well optimized on PC
Repetition of certain objectives
Progressing through isn't rewarding
Rather punishing when an ape dies