STAFF REVIEW of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey (Xbox One)

Monday, December 30, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey Box art Ever since a young age I've been fascinated with animals. Whether they be domesticated or wild, I'm an animal lover. I've had dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters. I saw Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey on Youtube one day and wanted it the second I saw it. Panache Digital Games developed this beautiful work and content that makes Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey everything it is. Have you ever dreamed of becoming a monkey at any point of your life? Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will make your banana eating and tree swinging dreams come true.

You start as a baby monkey and are literally dropped into a jungle that's dark, eerie and unnerving. The dialogue literally tells you that you're on your own. All I could think is... 'Wait, what?'. You are a small baby monkey all alone in a jungle and are supposed to find your family. Even as a grown adult, I get anxious if I don't know where I'm going. So, I started walking around the jungle, and as I explored, silouettes of Hyenas start appearing. If Hyenas start appearing at anytime, that means the area you're in is unfamiliar or you haven't been there before. To me, that gives me the feeling that something could attack me at any moment.

Eventually, one of two things will happen; You will randomly hide somewhere and switch to an adult gorilla or you'll randomly find where you need to go as a baby monkey. As you progress the game will give you quests, and it's up to you to figure how to complete them. The game will prompt you to collect anything from leaves, berries, sticks and rocks. As you discover different things, you grow as an ape. The whole idea of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is to grow from a baby monkey to an adult one while exploring your environment, discovering new animals, objects and staying alive.

I have to be honest, the only thing I wasn't truly a fan of was the mechanics of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. Although I completely understand that the developers probably intended you to be completely clueless and figure things out, I feel like the tutorial should have been an actual tutorial, not a ten second pop up and then never is seen again. I feel that if you're going to make a video game that is designed to be completely hands off AND give the player an option to have a tutorial, follow through with said tutorial. Those who are brave enough to click 'No Tutorial' should be given just what they ask for.

You have two main functions as an ape mentally. You have Intelligence and Hearing. Intelligence, to put it simply, is your ability to see what's around you. Are there predators? Where is my next quest marker? (Well, if you're lucky to even get one) and the infamous 'Wait, what was I doing again?'. Oh that's right, I don't have any way to see what I'm supposed to be doing, only a quest pop up. Hearing is pretty straight forward, as it allows you to hear nearby predators and potential family members in the area. This mechanic comes useful when you're trying to find a member of your family.

From very early on in my gameplay I found myself to be very frustrated with the concept of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. There is no real linear experience unless you happen to stumble upon it. Another potential issue I ran into is as you're trying to complete Quest A, Quest C comes out of nowhere. Then, you have to complete Quest C and then hope to god you remember what Quest A was all about. The only word I can come up with is 'clunky' for its mechanics. The whole climbing up trees, swinging tree to tree like Tarzan or falling to your death is pretty awesome though. The whole main story could have taken a little more time in development to flesh things out a little bit more.

I truly enjoyed the graphics and audio during gameplay. From the start of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the graphics and audio are spot on. It's amazing how much work went into the realism of the forests, the animals themselves and the content. It's quite amazing that so much detail on animals can be put into a video game so fluently. Although I don't remember most, if not all, of the technical names for the animals, I felt like it was a nice touch and I do really appreciate it when developers go above and beyond when it comes to smaller details. I'm the type of girl to play a game solely based on graphics and audio alone. That doesn't mean that I'm super critical of gameplay. When I see stellar graphics and audio, my expectations are automatically raised.

I do feel that if you're going to pick up Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, prepare to be patient and be prepared to have zero help from the UI or prompts to help you along your journey. Ater playing this for an extended time, I feel like Hyena bait, not quite the queen of the jungle that I should. As I said above, when a video game isn't willing to at least teach you the basics before throwing you in the deep end of the jungle and waving you goodbye, that's a big red flag for me, a big red flag I can't ignore even with the graphics and audio being stellar.

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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