To say that Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is a very difficult game would be an incredible understatement. Heck, one of the very first things you see when you boot the game up is this message:
Not the warmest welcome.
This game just throws you into the deep end, and expects you to know exactly how to guide your tribe towards civilization without much help, or instruction, along the way. It sort of makes sense, considering that evolution isn't an easy process. But as a player, it can make the early portion of the game feel pretty rough.
Thankfully, while the developers of this game are offering almost no assistance at all, we’re here to help lighten the load. With this guide, we’ll get you started on the road to evolution.
What Does Everything Even Mean?
Let’s start with the absolute basics, because Ancestors does a pretty poor job of even explaining that. This is a survival game, so that means you need to eat, drink, and sleep in order to stay healthy. It’s usually a good idea to get some food and water right after you’ve woken up from a good night’s sleep. You also have a big circle in the middle of your screen. This is your health, and it's made up of a green circle which is your immediate health bar, a yellow circle which is your stamina, and a red circle which is your life expectancy. If the red circle goes all the way down, your monkey is toast.
When it comes to food, you will come across various plants around your opening area. You should probably try tasting just about anything that you’re allowed to eat, as that’s mainly how you’ll discover what’s good for you, and what’s probably a poisonous mushroom. Berries are usually a pretty solid bet, but certain plants will also double as medicine, or will give you some kind of a buff, such as a resistance to cold weather.
As for sleeping, your bed is within your camp, and it’s also integral to you becoming a smarter and better hominid. This is where you’ll be able to open up the evolution menu, which will let you unlock new skills.
The ABC’s Of Evolution
Evolution is split up into four different categories: Memory, Perception, Motricity, and Kinesics. Ancestors’ leveling up system is similar to The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, in that what you do determines how you level up. So in this case, using your intelligence to discover things will increase your Memory, using your senses of smell and hearing will increase your Perception, jumping about and getting some exercise will increase your Motricity, and interacting with the various members of your tribe will increase your Kinesics.
In Ancestors, you get Neuronal Energy, which is essentially this game’s version of experience points. Getting this will allow you to evolve and learn new skills, as well as improve some of the abilities you already have. Now, in the tutorial mission, you should have rescued a child that was hiding near your base. You’re going to want to hang onto that kid, because having a child with you increases the amount of Neuronal Energy you gain. Not sure how, as most times having to look after a kid tends to decrease the amount of energy you have, but that’s how things work here.
And speaking of children…
How To Get It On
Children are a big deal in Ancestors, as you pass on traits to the next generation. You need to reproduce quite a bit in this game, especially considering your small band of proto-humans need to make it across six million years of evolution. Even though this seems like something that should come naturally, mating is a bit obtuse, much like most things in this game. So let’s explain Ancestors’ version of the birds and the bees.
First, although this might seem obvious, you need females, and not elders since they need to be able to have children. Then you need to establish a love connection, which in this game is accomplished by grooming your potential mate. By walking up to a fertile female as a male ape, the groom option should appear, and you should be able to get to work impressing them with your incredible grooming abilities. Grooming is basically a weird mini-game, where you need to fill up a meter by listening to a sound that will play while you’re picking off bugs.
Once you’re filled up that meter, you should have suitably impressed her enough to mate. Bring her to your boudoir, and the option to mate should be available. And of course, since Ancestors is aiming for as much authenticity as possible, it’ll take 9 actual in-game months to spawn a new member of the clan. There is an option to simply advance the game 15 months, and by doing that, you should have a brand new baby within your clan. You should also just go around banging everyone in your camp in order to really boost your group’s population.
Hominids: The Next Generation
Now in the evolution menu, you should see an option to advance to a new generation. You don’t really want to do this until you’re absolutely ready, because what it does is advance the game by 15 years. This will age your children, so you wanna make sure you have a lot of them. It also pretty much kills your elder clan members, turning them into a pile of bones.
So when should you move to a new generation? The best time to do this is actually when you have enough children, and some of them have genetic mutations. These give you the chance to gain new skills that were previously unavailable. Here’s the the thing though, if the hominid carrying the mutation dies, then you lose that genetic mutation. Hence why you want to advance forward, since doing so will lock in those mutations for future evolutionary upgrades.
However, there are other factors to consider as well. Advancing to a new generation also means you need to once again unlock the upgrades you had before, which is a bit of a pain. You will get things called Reinforcement Points, which will allow you to lock in certain upgrades so that your future relatives will retain those skills in the next generation. So make sure you know which abilities you want to keep long before you do this.
A Few More Little Tidbits
To make your first rudimentary weapon, you can knock an obsidian stone against a granite stone to make an obsidian scraper. If you then combine that with a stick, you can create a sharpened stick, which is basically a spear. That can then be used for hunting, or defending yourself.
If your monkey-man gets hurt, you can treat snake bites with coconuts, which can be cracked open with rocks. Kapok fibers can be used to stop bleeding. It can also be pretty easy to break some bones from a great fall, but horsetail leaves provide you with a buff that can help protect you from any busted limbs.
Finally, exploring your surroundings is a very good idea, but just be careful that you don't venture out too far. Going out of your comfort zone with certain members of the tribe will trigger the fear vision in your hominid, which can then turn to panic. If you're looking to explore further out in the wilderness, elder members of the clan are more hardened, so they have a better chance of overcoming the fear of a new area.
This is just a small smattering of tips on how to play through Ancestors. It's an incredibly interesting game, but just figuring out how to play it can be the greatest challenge of all. Hopefully this short guide is enough to get you started on your six million year journey.