Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey


“In the following hours, you will relive the challenges of the dawn of humanity. Embark into the never-ending odyssey of human progression on this planet. Use your body, senses, mind and voice to guide your voyages. Gain strength in numbers and advance the species. Survive the elements, teach your family, build a home. Good luck, we won’t help you much. And remember... Evolution is not set in stone; it is your path to forge.”

Starting a new game, you’ll be given the option for Player Help, there are four levels of assistance: Total (Full HUD and Full Tutorial), Useful (Full HUD and No Tutorial), Immersive (Minimal HUD and Full Tutorial) and Riveting (No HUD and No Tutorial). Next, you’ll have the option of choosing your Gender: Female, Male or Random (sorry, there’s no options for LGQBT+ etcetera options but maybe you folks can steer evolution in that direction). You will also be able to name your Lineage and choose your Clan Size (Small Medium or Large).

Once you’ve finished choosing the options for the game, a small video starts showing the milky way across the night sky. It’s Ten Million years ago in Neogene Africa; you have your baby on your back when a dead fish washes ashore in front of you both. You grab the fish and head off to the treetops to eat it in peace and quiet. However, just before you’re able to tuck into this delicious meal, a bloody great eagle swoops down, carrying both of you off to its nest where it plunges its huge beak into your skull; the baby falls from the tree canopy to the dangerous and mysterious jungle floor.

This is where your ancestors’ journey begins, in the dark, gloomy jungle where weird noises emanate from everywhere. Faces with bright red eyes and snarling teeth appear in front of you. This is Fear of the unknown and it will appear any time you venture into unknown territory. If you spend too much time in this condition then you’ll panic and it will turn into hysteria, so you’ll have to keep your mince pies on your Dopamine Levels. Once they run low then your character will take off running uncontrollably; sometimes though, you’ll run straight back to the safety of your settlement.  

As the surviving baby from the eagle attack, you have to complete one of two challenges; the first is to find safety in a Hiding Spot, the second is to find your Clan’s Settlement. If you decide to find a Hiding Spot then the following morning, you’ll take control of a clan member and lead them to the youngster.

Whether you decide one way or the other you’ll still have to rely on your Intelligence and Senses to complete the challenge. Selecting Intelligence will mist the screen a bit, but it will also display shapes (points of interest) around the screen. You can move your sight so that you highlight these shapes and if you’re close enough then they’ll reveal what the shapes are indicating if you Focus on them. These can be anything from dead branches, food sources, various plants, rocks, obsidian and other hominids or locations.

Selecting Senses gives you two options, Smelling and Hearing; you’ll also have the option to Stand Up. Standing Up will give you a greater reach when using your senses to unmask your surroundings. Smelling your surrounds will allow you to uncover points of interest, like with Intelligence the screen will mist up.  Points of interest will then reveal themselves as coloured mist; white, yellow, green, or red will highlight one of the points you’ll be able to Focus on and reveal what you’re looking at. Hearing works in pretty much the same way, and Sounds appear on the screen as circles spreading out from a source. When you scan over a point of interest you can Focus in on that sound and find out what it is. Smelling and Hearing is a good way of scouting out your current area for food and water etcetera, and more importantly, this sense will uncover anything that might be lurking about in the undergrowth and tree canopy that may think you’re a snack between meals.

Using your Intelligence and Senses, you’ll end up back at your Clan’s Settlement, where you will be safe from the outside world. There’s a waterfall and small stream which runs through your settlement, so you have plenty of fresh water. There are some plants which contain some berries for food to keep you and your clan fed, but they won’t last forever. There are some places in the stream where fish reside if you can catch them.  You can break branches off dead trees and maybe use them for something. Using Natal Grass Cycad, you can construct a bed, so after your day’s exploring you can put your head down for some rest.

You can interact with your clan’s members; for example, Grooming will help you bond with them better and you can even form a partnership with one of them. You can then take them back to your neatly constructed bed and get the next generation underway *Wink!! Wink!!*

As you progress, learn new locations, objects, items, smells, sounds and animals, you’ll be able to unlock Neurons Energy. You can activate this energy by selecting Evolution from your settlement; here you can select Evolution, Generation and Neuronal. Every time you learn something, neurons will mature, and you’ll be able to select one of four starting neurons: Motor Skill, Kinesics, Memory and Perception.  From these four starting points you’ll grow and stimulate new branches of neurons and steer our ancestors in the direction of your choosing.

Generation is where you can reinforce any neuron paths that you want pass onto the next generation. How many you can reinforce depends on how many kids are within your clan. Some neurons can be acquired by genetic mutations; any gained this way won’t have to be reinforced for the next generation. Any neurons that you can’t reinforce will still be there for the next generation, but they will lose any neuron energy used on them in the previous generation.

Evolution will allow you to progress faster than what science has suggested and benefit from genetic mutations. Before evolving you will need to reinforce any neurons you wish to pass on to the next generation. Launching Evolution will then take into account any historical feats you have accomplished, such as Memorable Locations, Constructions and other things you’ve uncovered as you’ve explored your region. These Historic Feats will add up and determine the length of time that you will leap through as you evolve, after which your lineage will evolve and you will find yourself in a random oasis in the same region as before.

As you do learn new things you can pass them on to the clan members by having them mimic and follow what you do. As you explore you will find new Memorable Locations; you can then move your clan to these locations and setup a new settlement. Creating a new settlement requires you to construct a bed at one of these locations, which is great if your food sources have been depleted at your previous settlement. It can also cut down on the distances you travel while exploring your surroundings. This means that you can be tucked up safely back in your bed and not left roaming around the dark jungle where everything wants to kill you.

Your day is played out over the course of twenty-four hours and there is weather within the game. Sometimes its sunny, other times it’s raining.  Being out in the rain can make you cold and have an effect on you if you spend too much time in the cold. Taking shelter from the rain will warm you back up to normal.

As it’s a jungle out there and it’s going to be dangerous moving around where everything wants to eat you for breakfast, lunch and tea. So, this means at some point you’re going to get injured if you survive an attack. Your movement will be affected depending on your injury; broken bones can heal over a short amount of time and more quickly if you rest. While broken bones can heal with a bit of rest, Bleeding injuries can have a serious effect on your health if they are not treated. I lost three clan members before I realised how I could stop the bleeding and have my character recover to full health.       

So far, I’ve really enjoyed playing Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey.  You will have to use your common sense to figure out how things work. There’s still quite a lot I think I need to uncover; I played something like twenty-eight days before I decided to jump a generation and evolve. I could have gone on a lot more before evolving but my clan was on its last legs (due to those bloody Golden Machairodus and Eagles); luckily there are some new recruits nearby that I might be able to induct into our group.

I did struggle a little with the camera angles sometimes while climbing trees and trying to move onto a branch. I’d go up and down the trunk trying to get on the branch, but couldn’t.  This wouldn’t have been a problem but I was about to die. I needed to stop the bleeding after a bloody Golden Machairodus jumped me out of nowhere. These bloody things have had me a few times; the only time I know I’m about to get mauled is when I hear a low growl from the undergrowth and I’ve failed to hightail it to the safety of the tress. I haven’t spotted one yet by smell or sound, unlike the Giant Warthogs and Thorbjarnarson’s Crocodile (always be on alert in swamps). The African Rock Pythons can be spotted easily as they are bloody huge, but the smaller Eastern Green Mamba are harder to spot, and given the chance, will bite and poison you.

The Giant Eagles come out of nowhere and carry you off before replacing your head with their bloody huge beaks. If you can avoid these though you may just be able to nick some of their eggs from their lofty nests. It’ll be up to you to decide if it’s worth grabbing a couple of eggs or getting killed instead. I took the risk a couple times and I found that the best course of action as soon as I had grabbed the eggs was to just jump from the top of the tree and hope for the best. Broken bones will heal, whereas skulls ripped off tend not to.

Review written by Piston Smashed™ for! 


+ Enjoyable to play
+ Makes you think
+ Looks great
+ Sounds good
+ Has achievements


- Camera angles can be frustrating at times
- No cards currently

Review Summary

Explore and survive Neogene Africa through ten million years of evolution in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Share this review!

Zeepond Rating: 8/10