Families

Game review: ‘Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey’: Spectacular winning adventure explores the early days of civilization

Parents need to know that "Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey" is a downloadable role-playing/adventure game available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. Players take on the role of clan of prehistoric primates, surviving in the wild, exploring their surroundings and learning important new skills, passing the knowledge on to future generations and following the evolutionary path to modern man. While the gameplay's fluid and mainly used in a contextual way, action still leaves a lot for players to learn to do on their own. Surviving in this world can be brutal, with players defending themselves and their clan from predators in bloody and deadly combat. The game takes a realistic look at humankind's ancestors, meaning that male and female primates are shown nude, though genitalia isn't shown.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

"Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey" takes players on a trip far back in history, beginning with the era just before the dawn of humankind. The story begins ten million years ago in the jungles of Africa, with players taking on the role of an early primate and its fellow clan members. Your job is to survive, to learn, and to teach future generations. You'll explore your environment, seeking out necessities like food, water, and shelter. You'll need to discover how to make use of primitive tools to improve your odds of survival. But you'll have to watch out, as danger could be lurking around any corner. Predators always seek to take the spot at the top of the food chain. Harsh weather can threaten to wipe out your whole tribe. Even a simple misstep climbing through the treetops can cause injury or death, leading to the extinction of your lineage. Do you have what it takes to survive, to grow, and to ultimately evolve into the foundation of all humankind?

IS IT ANY GOOD?

"Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey" gives gamers a firsthand glimpse at how early man came into existence in a deeply moving and engaging way. From the moment the opening cinematic shows the cycle of predator and prey to its transition into the player's first moments in the wild, the game presents an atmosphere that's absolutely breathtaking. It's easy to get lost in the vast splendor of the jungle, and to feel what these early moments of primitive man's evolutionary steps must have experienced.

Survival in prehistoric times was a challenge, and "Ancestors" doesn't shy away from bringing that challenge to the game. Even with the full tutorials turned on, it makes a point of leaving a lot for players to discover on their own. Picking up on small audio clues, experimenting with the controls, and testing out contextual interactions are all keys to progress, as is gaining an understanding for your overall health, status, and needs. Unfortunately, much of this is left for players to figure out on their own, which can make the earlier moments of developing your clan more than a little frustrating. Eventually, much like the primates learning new skills, you learn more of how the game operates and become much more efficient and effective at surviving and thriving. There's a bit of repetition as you go through your daily life in the jungle, but it's still a fantastic take on prehistory and an exciting, thought provoking journey.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 15 and older

Quality: 5 out of 5

Educational value: 3 out of 5

Positive messages: 4 out of 5

Positive role models: 2 out of 5

Ease of play: 2 out of 5

Violence: 4 out of 5

Sex: 1 out of 5

Language: 0 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 0 out of 5

GAME DETAILS

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One

Price: $39.99

Developer: Private Division

Release date: August 27, 2019

Genre: Role-playing

Topics: Adventures, Wild Animals

ESRB rating: T for violence, blood, partial nudity

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

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