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Video Game / Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

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Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a game developed by Panache Games, headed by Patrice Desilets, the creator of the original Assassin's Creed.

Telling the story of the origins of mankind, you are given command of an early group of hominids, and must guide them through eight million years of evolution to set them on the path to us. Be warned, however, that the world is not kind to these creatures, and that survival is the exception, not the rule...

The game was released on December 6, 2019 on consoles and PC, and will initially be a timed exclusive on the Epic Games store before a release on Steam.


This game provides examples of:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: The playable primate will initially get food poisoning from eating eggs and meat, but can build up an immunity if enough is consumed.
  • Action Commands: When attacked, the game will enter a brief bullet-time segment wherein the primate can dodge or counter-attack.
  • Action Prologue: The intro starts off with a pelagornid catching a fish, only to lose the still-living fish, which, after several changes of hand/maw, is caught and devoured by an early hominid, who is promptly caught and devoured by an eagle. After a brief sequence where the player must guide the infant who the dead hominid was carrying to shelter, the player gains control of an adult hominid, and following the rescue of the infant, the full game begins.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The intro portrays how a fish is caught by a grey crowned crane, which is promptly eaten by a crocodile that was pursuing that same fish. A short while later, another crocodile is killed by a saber-toothed cat while looking at the dead fish (the crane dropped it when the first crocodile attacked).
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  • Artistic License – Paleontology: The game has centipedes the size of pythons in its cave systems, even though a. the genus they belong to, while large, is nowhere near that big, b. arthropods that large haven't lived on land since the Carboniferous, c. there is no know genus of centipede (living or extinct) to have ever gotten that large, and d. ignoring all of the above, it is unlikely a centipede would be able to get so massive when it has to compete with similarly sized snakes for food (such as the pythons in-game). Of course, if there were no centipedes in the games, then there would be no cave based threats.
  • Bad with the Bone: Bone clubs are some of the more effective weapons that can be salvaged from corpses.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Giant centipedes are commonly found lurking in caves, and can poison those who fail to dodge their venomous fangs.
  • Blade on a Stick: Branches can be stripped of twigs and sharpened into crude spears, making them effective weapons.
  • Canis Latinicus: Many of the non-living objects in the game are given pseudo-Latin names in a similar manner to the true Latin names of the animal and plant life you encounter.
  • Counter Attack: Even when armed with weapons as sophisticated as sharpened sticks or stone blades, the playable characters will only be able to counter-attack predators (and prey) via Action Commands.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted - it is possible to take injuries that directly impair your movement, and you will need to either sleep off the injury or eat something that will heal it...assuming, of course, that you don't get eaten due to your new impairment.
  • Death from Above: Eagles will try to catch you if you lurk in their nests or other high places. When you hear a shrill cry in these places, leave or prepare to dodge (or fight back).
  • Diegetic Interface: There is no user interface whatsoever in the game unless you are on an easier difficulty - the only icons you will see are markings made to indicate various points of interest - plants, animals, objects, etc...
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Crocodiles, pythons, warthogs, saber-toothed cats, eagles, poisonous plants.... really, it's easier to list what won't try to kill you, which currently amounts to a few types of plants and land snails.
  • Final Death: Of course, as this game simulates real life. When any one of your tribe dies, they are gone for good. Thankfully, on the death of the character you were controlling you will be immediately shifted to another in your clan.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: Shown rather realistically, as the various things you evolve towards often take from the situations you put yourself in. Fighting a lot will improve dexterity to make more successful counters, using your senses a lot will improve them further, and some things require a genetic mutation to achieve (such as standing upright better).
  • Guide Dang It!: You're not given any assistance by the computer, so you'll need to figure out everything for yourself. Amongst others:
    • In order to kill a crocodile, you need to be wielding both a bone and a stick, so that you can shove the bone down its throat and the stick into its eye.
    • You need need to learn how to butcher a carcass before you can eat it.
    • Standing upright while in knowledge mode increases your mobility.
    • You gain neurons faster if you are carrying an infant.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: There is a day-night cycle within the game, which can affect how far the player sees and, potentially, what might be active at the moment.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: The cinematic opening of the gameplay trailer ends when a Bateleur eagle manages to grab both the adult hominid and the child it was carrying on its back, and carry them to its nest (which to be fair, was practically on a nearby tree), before finishing off the adult with a single strike to the head, as a distressed child escapes and becomes the character you play as... for a few minutes, before finding another adult to piggyback on.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: There is a whole set of evolution feats for many types of animals which you get solely from herding said animal into the other to make them kill the other. The game even encourages you to do this, as either you will have satiated the predator with something else and it will stop pursuing you.
  • Morale Mechanic: Being attacked by predators, or exploring an unfamiliar area, will cause your hominid to become afraid, which manifests as glowing red images of predators appearing on-screen. In the case of fear from exploring a new area, you can eventually overcome it by examining enough of the area for the hominid to become familiar with its new surroundings. It is also possible to overcome fear through gaining dopamine from performing gratifying activities.
    • If your dopamine stays at 0 for too long, your hominid will become hysterical and run away screaming back to the oasis.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Prehistoric crocodiles are one of the greatest threats in the game, though they can be temporarily incapacitated with a stick down the throat.
  • Not the Intended Use: You can use a tree branch as a weapon to hunt other animals...or just shove it down the throat of a crocodile to temporarily remove a threat.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Amongst the game's cast is the Giant African Land Snail, Thorbjarnarson's crocodile, and the Baleteur Eagle, and that's not including our hominid ancestors. Additionally, the opening features both a pelagornid and an indeterminate species of Machairodus saber-toothed cat.
  • Shown Their Work: Every time you discover a new species, whether plant or animal, you get both its "normal" name and the Latin one flashing up on the screen.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: African Rock Pythons are a fairly large threat in the early parts of the game - be careful to avoid straying too close.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The saber-toothed cat has a rather wide area of detection and will often come for your primates from distances where every other species barely cares you exist. It is not uncommon to settle in a new place, perform some task at ground level or simply explore and get rushed by one of these predators, which will pursue you constantly until you go somewhere they can't (usually up a tree), and even then they will wait for you a good while.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The map (which you have no representation of in game) is fairly big and is broken down into several parts such as : Jungle, Woodland, Lake, Savanna, Canyon and Ocean (The lake and Ocean sections are on the shore, naturally). Among them are many locations to discover, crashed meteorites to discover, species to encounter and places to settle.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You actually need to unlock the ability to stand upright. Justified in that this took a lot longer for hominids to master than most people expect. As the game is about the gradual evolution of hominids, a lot of skills amount to this from the perspective of players.


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