On paper, Ancestors sounds like a good idea. Start as an ape and then evolve your way to become more human-like. It sounds like a pretty cool concept for a game we don’t see often but does it work out in the end to make a fun game?
For reasons, I won’t spoil you, starting off as a child ape alone and scared you need to find a place to hide. This game does not hold your hand and you will hardly know what you’re doing until your lucky enough to stumble upon it. Once into hiding, you are switched into an adult who must find the young one that you hid by using your senses of smell, hearing, and sight which all play a big part in the game. With very few tutorials though, you will hardly know how to use them.
After finding the child you get to carry it around which plays an important role in this game. First, as you play you can unlock new skills, but, to use them you have to use points you only get by carrying around the young. A problem I found was it had me wondering why would you be carrying around a child in a dangerous place when you can leave them at your encampment with others. Even 10 million years ago it seemed like they should be smart enough to know how to protect their young.
As I said before, there are very few tutorials so after finding the child you can do and go almost anywhere you want. There are goals the game gives you, but its more of a guideline than anything else as you have to learn just like your character does. Your character must pick up and examine everything for the first time to know what it is. Pick up a branch and look at it and learn it won’t hurt you. Pick up fruit and see that you can eat it but is it safe to eat? Like most survival games you need to eat, drink, and sleep to stay alive. Now the thing in this game is your body is not used to lots of different kinds of foods so eating meat will get you sick making the screen, music, and sound all get fuzzy for a bit and this will keep happening until you evolve to be able to handle it.
There are lots of wildlife in this game that will hunt you and at the start, before you learn to make any kind of weapons, all you can do is dodge. Now I thought I was doing it right but each time I dodged I always got hurt netting my character a broken bone or a gash that started to bleed. Later on, I found out that there was a little chime that sounds for timing and if you time it right, you will getaway. It did an awful job at telling me what I had to do I ended up messing things up a lot until by chance I heard the sound at another part of the game. You can also try to fight back when you are being attacked if you have a weapon of some kind. I was lucky enough to have a sharpened stick so I gave it a try only for the game to tell me that sometimes it won’t work and the stick will break leaving me defenceless again. I wish it would have said that it may fail before I tried so I would have just dodged instead. Trying to attack back is done the same way as dodging only you press the analog stick in a different direction.
Another thing you can do is get other animals to attack each other. I once unknowingly led a boar to a huge snake and it attacked and killed the boar. Now, this was pretty cool the first time I saw it but it was done in a cut-scene. Most of the time I am fine with games with cut-scenes but in this one… well after it happens you can see the dead animal and the alive one is ready to attack you again instead of eating its kill. What’s the point of using this as a strategy if all it does it delay the game by showing a cut-scene. Every time you die it also shows one and at one time I was standing near a waterfalls edge and the death cut-scene played of my ape falling and dying. If this was a glitch I know it hasn’t been fixed as there have been no updates to the game since it released.
Emotions play a role in the game but mostly it’s fear. If you wander someplace new you will get scared, the screen will distort with fangs and other things popping up until you examine and know what lots of things are and then you must find a spot which seemed to be a white spot but I wasn’t sure as the game wasn’t very clear on what I was to do and then you conquered your fear for that area.
As you learn everything above, you can start to communicate with the other apes at your camp and have them follow you to copy what you do. You can also move where your camp is but I was only able to find one safe place while I played. You will also need to find mates for everyone by grooming which is done by a hold of a button and letting go when there’s a chime. Once you groom them a few times they will become a mate and then you can make babies which allows you to continue to evolve and grow. Besides children and adults, you also have elders and you can switch to any of them if you are near them. The children are scared of everything making them hard to play as but you will be forced to if you’re carrying them and die. They can also be killed so be mindful of them. The elders will die in time as all things do when they get old.
The game itself looks good and the first few times a newborn came into the world I couldn’t help but say awe. It is not a big-budget game so don’t go in expecting AAA graphics but they are nice to look at. The sound and music are also good and lean towards an African style while the sound of animals in the distance sound wonderful even though the apes do make too much noise at times.