23andMe the video game: Ancestors launches next week

by: Randy -
More On: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey launches next week, Tuesday, August 27, on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. This is the latest from Patrice Desilets, creator of the Assassin's Creed series. Ancestors doesn't excite me the way Assassin's Creed did back in the day. But it (vaguely) takes the (idea of a) DNA-time-traveling backstabby platformer and goes further back into mankind's prehistory than most games will even come close to attempting.

Hopefully there are some weird 2001: A Space Odyssey moments to be had (eh, eh, see "Odyssey" right there in both titles?) to be found in Ancestors. I hope Desilets has just been keeping it a big ol' secret. Because while I applaud that he's going where few games have gone before with the apes and the evolution and whatnot, I feel like there needs to be more to it—a lot more to it—than swinging from trees and unlocking a skill tree made up of tying a rock to a stick. If fire is the game's crowning discovery and not some huge alien monolith, then I'll be reconsidering my purchase.

You know that one human evolution illustration showing a hunched over ape on the left and then, walking towards the right, evolving into an increasingly upright-standing, tool-handling homo sapiens? That's the game Ancestors. The setting takes place in the jungles of Africa. The place could even double as the setting of Far Cry 2.5 ... or Far Cry 2: Episode 0. The video starts with your apes figuring out how low they are on the food chain. Then, through language development ("What is it, Lassie? Is Timmy in the well?") and tool manufacturing (pick up rock, throw rock) you engage in the first survival sim. The survival sim where Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs includes don't get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.

Not going to lie: This trailer does not graphically amaze me. I'll have to approach it from a different angle. And it'll be an angle that doesn't depict Adam and Eve as a hot, white couple chilling in a beautiful garden at the beginning of mankind's timeline. Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will likely bring to life your 23andMe DNA test in a way that will encourage you to dig deeper, or roll your eyes at the theory posturing.