Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey and the Army of the 12 Monkeys

"Wonderful!" This is how I should start this review, but of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey many have already written about it: between those who have defined it as a survival by beating it for its repetitiveness and those who have highlighted its originality without promoting it with flying colors due to some technical problems. But no one has framed him for what he really is. I allow myself to repeat myself, after having talked about it on Facebook with some friends: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is not a survival. It's not so much a question of having survival mechanics or not, but of having gameplay that isn't instrumental to survival. Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the Black & White of this decade and Patrice Desilets, if you look closely, is a Peter Molyneux who has been fed and treated for alopecia. Will I then be able to convince you to give it a chance?

Given the peculiarities of a gameplay so different from those we are used to playing titles belonging to well-defined genres, then I want this review to be unusual: instead of telling you about mechanics, graphics and objectives - also by virtue of the fact that the boys of Panache Digital Games have chosen to bring the introductory tutorial to a minimum - I'll try the diary route. Three trips, three different evolutions, for the three games with which I began to understand what's exceptional and what could be improved in this god game - pass me the brave label - published by Private Division on Epic Store (in December it will also be released on PS4 and Xbox One, while for Steam we are talking about 2020).

Sahelanthropus tchadensis
I woke up and did not remember anything that had happened to me. I was alone, naked: I was hungry. The fear of my surroundings was such that it clouded my vision and, in the darkness, I saw strange faces grinding their teeth. I tried to calm down, breathe, focus my attention on the smells. Around me there were plants, trees, a stream and many different noises: birds, wild boars, frogs ... The smell of home, however, was unmistakable. I was able to concentrate enough to figure out where to direct my uncertain steps, realizing that I could climb trees, jump and run awkwardly on my hind legs. Guided by the sense of smell I managed to reach a cave at the base of a waterfall where I found my family: monkeys. The jungle around me changed its appearance, becoming a place that I felt I could understand and tame. To calm the hunger I picked a red fruit; an exquisite fruit that has satisfied me. I ate another one but ... my head started spinning and I think it was due to the fact that, however edible, of that fruit I should not overdo it. Hunger pangs were followed by thirst pangs, so I tasted the clear water flowing at my feet and found it delicious.

At that point I remembered what had happened: a strange bird had killed my grandfather, who in turn was trying to understand what it was that slimy thing that had brought us the stream. Was it possible that this place was as far away as it had seemed to me at the beginning? I focused again on hearing distinct sounds emanating from the rocks above me. I sharpened my eyes by finding, among the branches of a giant tree, what looked like a bed of straw and, without thinking, I started running to reach him. Could my grandfather be there? Why did he have a dead animal on his hands? Maybe he wanted to eat it?

Smell, sight and hearing allow you to explore the world to understand it from a distance

I had to find out immediately, leaving out the many new things that surrounded me and to which I would return later. There were small plants, stones, branches ... I could have taken them, understood what they would be for, but I still found it hard to concentrate. I knew I could use them, one way or another, but… something was blocking me. Maybe I was a stupid monkey? At that moment, however, the only important thing was to find out why my grandfather had died. Fighting the effort of climbing such a tall tree, therefore having to rest between one jump and another, I still managed to find a kind of "nest". The corpse was there, surrounded by funny white, smooth, oval objects. They were as big as my head. I took one in my hand: it smelled good and something told me I could eat it. I didn't make it in time, though: what was supposed to be their mother swooped down on me with sharp claws and I wasn't quick enough to dodge her attacks. I died instantly, falling limp beside my grandfather, closing my eyes without knowing what would happen to my family who remained in the cave.

Ardipithecus kadabba
I don't remember much of what happened to my ancestors. My father told me that they had learned to keep fit with a varied diet, including by stealing the eggs of a predatory bird from its nest atop the tallest tree in the jungle. They recognized the edible plants, the hallucinogenic ones, they managed to accumulate sticks and rocks, they knew that the wild boars were aggressive but that they could not climb like us and that it was enough to stay away from them. I know they have made some expeditions following the current, coming to a large waterfall that plunged into a larger river. They had learned to communicate in a primitive way, imitating each other and proceeding in ropes towards the outside of our cave.

They understood that they could not exert too much effort: their resistance was limited and if they abused them their life would last less, unless a giant snake had not eaten them first. I did not know my grandfather's name, but he said that his father abandoned him, never to return, in an attempt to find out where that great river would take him. He was then left alone, unable to attract his frightened and lonely fellow at the edge of the jungle. Something was missing and he could not make himself understood even though he had learned to make a particular call with his mouth to which his wife and brothers always answered. I live in a large cove at the foot of a small waterfall. My parents rest together in a bed: they never go too far and are learning to use sticks and rocks to build shelters and sharp objects. They know how to move in a group with the other members of what is now a clan. We have learned that in building something it is important to measure strength, that one stone is harder than the other, that the black one becomes sharp, which some fruits protect from the cold or help heal wounds. I think we will also be able to catch some fish: some live in the water nearby and I saw my mother practicing with a stick.

Actions generate neuronal energy to unlock abilities with which to dominate nature

Compared to my peers, I was born with a better metabolism: I need less food and I can struggle more. From a certain point of view I feel lucky: I can stand on my hind legs for longer than my brothers can. In a few days, however, we will leave as a group to understand what that column of black smoke is that rises in large spirals further downstream.. We saw a red object fall from the sky and ...

Orrorin tugenensis
I convinced them to abandon their fathers' house: the youngest were afraid, some died from fatigue or were killed by predators that took them by surprise, but on this journey we discovered an extraordinary thingSticks can be pointed with blunt rocks and we can use them to kill every animal encountered to date. For example, wild boar yields bones that can be polished and used as lethal clubs. Now we do everything as a group and move in unison. We build together, we fight together, we eat together, we explore together almost without fear. We managed to get hold of a cave full of bugs and bats, emerging in a new area of ​​the jungle. Thanks to our acute senses, to the ability to communicate with each other, to the ability to "think" about impossible combinations for those who do not have an opposable thumb, to our support on the hind legs without effort, we can go where no other animal has ever gone.

I, however ... I am old; I'm too old now. I feel my time is running out. New children are born, their parents carry them in their arms, they will soon become adults and in observing us they will already know how to do everything that we have learned in recent years with so many sacrifices and losses. Will I be remembered as the one who found that rock that fell from heaven? Will they remember me for being the first to climb the top of the father of all trees? I, who have taught them to defend themselves, who have healed their wounds, who have shown them how to dominate this land, will I be remembered? My grandchildren are about to take on a new challenge: huge beasts with long noses stand out on the horizon. Their skin is gray, their fangs sharp ... our spears will do nothing against that force. They look like peaceful beasts, but they keep us from scouring this flat area for a new home.

Neuronal development does not follow a predetermined timetable: there is complete freedom to choose which character to prioritize

We learned how to build bramble wards, so tonight we will camp here under this big boulder, but when the sun goes down the wind is cold and our furs are not enough to protect us from the freezing gusts. For now we just sprinkle the body with the resin of a fruit and eat a long red berry: both remedies help us feel less chills ... but we have to find another solution or we won't survive away from home for long. Now that I think about it I would like to go back to the falls, where I was born. Who knows, maybe my parents are still resting where they lay together before they died. Maybe I'll join them someday. Maybe… someday… but now I'm sleepy. I am sleepy and I want to rest. Just rest ...


I played Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey with a Ryzen 5 1600, 16GB of RAM, SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics card at maximum detail, with no frame rate drops or bugs. I used the Xbox One pad which lent itself very well to the control system designed by the developers. There is some problem with the camera and a little too much polygon interpenetration, but nothing that has affected the rich gameplay.

  • There is no set timetable. In the first run I spent two hours just to understand how the neuronal development system was linked. In the second I explored the course of the river sacrificing a whole generation just to understand where this led, taking three hours. In the third, which I am still playing, I am about ten hours away and I am doing everything calmly, choosing the skills carefully in order to pass to the next generation with great advantage. It could take me another sixty hours to get tired of it ...
  • Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a freely navigable map sandbox. There are no invisible walls and the ability to overcome some obstacles depends only on the progress made at the evolutionary level.
  • It controls itself like a normal third-person action game.
  • the gameplay is devoted to the evolution of the species through actions and discoveries that charge a sort of energy bar to be spent to advance the "brain" of the primate family we are playing with.
  • There are objectives linked to exploration, expansion and evolution but they do not perform the function of fil rouge, but rather that of notifying the progress made.
  • The generation can evolve by sacrificing older members to end up with puppies in adulthood and fertile age.
  • The game begins ten million years ago but includes great evolutionary steps depending on the objectives achieved, up to a record without hair on the chest and in a perennial upright position.
Game Card
  • Game Name: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey
  • Release date: August 27 2019
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Dubbing language: no
  • Texts language: Italian

Arrived this far, we need to understand one last thing: the one just described is a short narrative arc of the first ten hours of play. It is the "story" of my experience with Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey told to offer an excerpt of what the game system - based on exploration, trial and error, logic and twists - can give to anyone who approaches. to play with the eyes of discovery. Ancestors, in fact, is a third-person sandbox that allows the "protagonist" to study what surrounds him - through intelligence, primary senses and opposable thumb - to bend it to his will. It is a kind of playground to which they have associated a series of objectives useful for evolving, multiplying and inventing. I firmly believe that for a curious player looking for a title capable of testing his desire for discovery, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a must buy..

This article helps support scientific research on Rett syndrome. Find the details of the initiative at this link.

Review by Roberto Turrini

The graphics sector does its duty without ever getting a "wow". There is some excess polygon interpenetration, also due to the camera, but I've never encountered any bugs. The jungle is very immersive, full of details and animals. I have not experienced any slowdowns and if we consider that my PC is in the medium / low range I would say that the optimization is excellent.


On the one hand we have the tout court soundtrack, made up of classic ambient pieces that didn't leave me much; on the other hand we have the "sounds" of nature and between verses, chirps, drips, rustles and the like we have an amazing auditory playground to deal with.


We are a (in its own way) intelligent primate. We have senses to interpret, ingengo, a family to expand and all of nature at our disposal. It is a question of wanting to understand the mechanisms, the concatenations, the limits and the infinite possibilities. There is a skill tree to forage, new skills to acquire, an evolutionary process to undertake and we, as gods on earth, have all the tools to dominate the imponderable of nature. Of its kind, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a masterpiece.

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