The creator of Assassin’s Creed is making apes of gamers – reconnecting us with prehistoric survival instincts in virtually untouched gaming territory
When a game, film or TV show takes on the idea of human evolution, it’s usually concerned with the future. What might humans become? How might technology change us? But Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey’s interpretation is literal. You play as a great ape, part of a small troop in a jungle, swinging through trees, picking up sticks and rocks and trying to figure out how to use them to advance the species. It is a fascinating concept, challenging the player to reconnect with the curiosity and ingenuity that helped our distant genetic ancestors to figure out how to progress.
Ancestors opens 10 million years ago with a nature-documentary-style montage of cruel life in the jungle, featuring crocodiles, sabre-toothed cats and giant predatory birds – all eating each other. When an elder ape meets a grisly end in the treetops, the infant creature clinging to its back is thrown to the ground, and you begin the game as a baby desperately searching for somewhere to hide on the forest floor, calling for help. Switching into the body of an adult primate, you pursue the cries through the dense jungle, eventually picking up the infant and returning them to the safety of the tribe.