Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a unique third-person survival game that takes place over millions of years. You take control of a primate clan as you acquire new skills and learn more about your environment. The goal behind Ancestors is to make sure your lineage doesn't go extinct. In order to do this, you'll have to savor the experience and slowly uncover the mysteries of your surroundings.
Bottom line: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a great survival game with an extremely steep learning curve.
- Dangerous open world
- Great visuals
- Deep survival mechanics
- Offers structured gameplay option
- Slightly clunky animations
- Starting out is frustrating
- Animal encounters are tedious
- Poor Xbox One X support
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey exploration and setting
Ancestors takes place in a massive open world that's hard to traverse due to the dangers that lurk in the wild. From your waterfall base, you have to slowly explore the surrounding area as you try to remember where various hiding spots and resources are located. The game doesn't feature a map, so you'll have to discover landmarks and where your group is in relation to those.
Luckily, you have a number of abilities that allow you to memorize and identify objects you encounter. Unfortunately, the dense foliage of the jungle makes it hard to keep your bearings so I would recommend always climbing the tallest trees to reposition yourself. However, beware of the massive eagles because venturing too close to their nests results in certain death.
For example, when you discover certain landmarks, meteorites fall from the sky. These can be easily spotted because of the smoke they create. However, you won't be able to find them unless you're able to see the trails from above the trees.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey crafting and survival
As much as Ancestors is about exploring the world, uncovering what you can do with various plants, rocks, and other objects is just as important. Before you can even eat or drink, you'll have to discover what they are. For example, the first step is finding a freshwater source that doesn't poison you. After that, you'll have to inspect berries, herbs, mushrooms, fruit, and other items that look potentially edible. Only after that will you be able to satisfy your hunger and thirst meters.
In order to sleep well, you'll have to use various techniques to construct sleeping mats. This is the only way to access the skill tree and evolve, too. Apart from that, you can fashion rudimentary tools by sharpening sticks and hitting rocks together to form cutters or grinders.
Instead of randomly banging rocks together, you have to listen for a small audio cue. When you release the rock at the cue, it'll have the most impact. This also applies to shaping branches or even grooming other members of your lineage. It would've been nice to have some other indicator because this limits accessibility for those with hearing disabilities.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey evolution and skills
Ancestors uses two distinct means to level up. You can unlock various skills by growing neurons. This is the simplest way because all you have to do is repeat a few actions and you gain new skills. For example, just by using your senses and identifying items around you, you have the option to unlock new, but similar abilities. The same applies to movement and other traits.
However, evolution is more important. If you're able to complete certain feats, like intimidating a wild animal or finding a new home for your group, then you can skip ahead hundreds of thousands of years. This allows you to access new locations easily and gain new abilities to unlock.
The game takes you from 10 million to 2 million years ago. You'll start off in the jungle, but eventually find yourself exploring the African Savanna. While early encounters with wild animals can be quite deadly and frustrating, it seems like the later ones place you in control. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to experience this stage for long because Ancestors is an incredibly difficult game, especially when you're first starting out. Luckily, there's a guided mode available that helps you quite a lot.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey performance and visuals
Ancestors looks really good on Xbox One X, but it doesn't appear to have any major enhancements like a significant boost to resolution or frame rate. The title appears to be running at 1080p and 30 frames per second (FPS). While the menus are 4K when it comes to the text, everything else is ever-so-slightly blurry.
I recognize the fact that developer Panache Digital Games is a small team, but other games like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and No Man's Sky look stunning at 4K on Microsoft's upgraded console. The Ancestors team could've upgraded the resolution at least if it was too demanding to render the game at 60 FPS.
While the performance is stable, Ancestors has a number of minor bugs that harm the experience. Aside from the slightly clunky animations and frustrating combat against wild animals, children clip into each other often if you place them on a sleeping mat. The game as a whole needs a little bit more polish, and the combat needs a complete overhaul in my opinion. Even a simple action like dodging an attack is imprecise.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey final thoughts
Overall, Ancestors is a good game despite its problems. You should be prepared to spend several hours learning the mechanics. You may have to restart a few times if your tribe doesn't procreate enough. Unfortunately, that happened to me a lot because an aging and ill population is a real problem in this game.
Aside from making sure your birth rate exceeds your death rate, you should make sure that all of your members are healthy. Sometimes, even younger primates get sick and taking control of them is the only way to nurse them back to health. If you're having a hard time getting the hang of Ancestors, I would recommend watching tutorials on YouTube because once you get into the game, it's supremely rewarding and quite addictive.
Survive and evolve
It's the story of humanity
Survive your evolution in Africa starting 10 million years ago. Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a third-person survival game where you explore, expand, and evolve to advance your clan.
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This game was reviewed on an Xbox One X with a copy provided by the publisher.
Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.