Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – From the Creator of Assassin’s Creed

Set ten million years in the past, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is generating a fair amount of buzz around it at the moment. The first game from Patrice Desilets’ Panache Digital Games. Patrice Desilets is likely best known for his work creating the Assassin’s Creed series a decade(!) ago.

The teaser trailer itself is rather stunning; atmospheric and enticing. Showing a dark and foreboding, green Garden of Eden, the game hints at a primal lasciviousness and openness that would easily rival the recent Farcry Primal, and may even give Horizon Zero Dawn a run for its money, provided it is given a *lot* of polish and… and… I take that back, Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t going to be bettered anytime soon. But they appear to have made a world in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey that begs to be explored and discovered, by swinging and swimming!

Originally put forth as an episodic game, that model has now allegedly been dropped in favour of a more open approach to the game.

Patrice Desilets’ of Panache Digital Games was speaking at Reboot Develop:

“It’s a third-person adventure game set 10 million years ago. Before it was episodic and that changed the pace, but the content is the same. It’s a bigger game, a bigger world. It was an hour to hour, now it’s open and I let the player tell their own stories. There are systems talking to each other, not me taking players by the hand. You’ll create the story of your own ancestors, and maybe it will be different from what science claims.”

“We’re all big apes, that’s what we are. We’re mutants that live in a fast-paced technological place, but that’s not what we are. We’re made out of the jungle, that’s why we’re scared of everything. We’re good at fleeing. That’s why we’re afraid of talking in front of people, missing the train.”

“This is the first time I’m creating a character that interacts with the jungle. I’m used to characters that interact with walls – 10m years ago, there were no walls.”

“I’ve never done a character who is afraid of everything all the time. There’s no sword. Eventually there will be a tree branch, but no sword.”

“I do third-person games. I don’t do VR. I do Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia type of games, and my next 15 games will be in the same vein – if I don’t die in the meantime.”

VG247 have done a fantastic job of summerising information provided by Patrice Desilets when he was speaking at the aforementioned Reboot Develop:

  • The game is no longer episodic as it’s grown too big.
  • The game is currently playable but isn’t ready to release anytime soon. Panache does have a date in mind for release so it’s not a “ship when it’s ready” affair.
  • It’s a third-person action adventure game set 10 million to 2 million years ago.
  • There will be resource management and survival elements.
  • The team has discussed cannibalism and whether it should feature in the game as it has in human history.
  • On fighting or tribal conflict in the game: “Eventually, maybe, there will be conflict [in the game] but it’s not there yet.”
  • The game was originally about playing “hour to hour” when episodic, now it’s “open, bigger” and “has systems working together”.
  • The same animator who created Ezio in Assassin’s Creed and the prince in Prince of Persia is working on the characters of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey.
  • A significant part of the game is set in Africa: “the game world is big,” says Desilets, but he’s not keen to spoil too much of the game ahead of the release.
  • “It’s the first time I’ve created a character who interacts with the jungle. There are no walls. What’s the light like? I’ve never worked on that before. There’s no sword, no swordfights. Eventually you get a branch…”
  • Desilets wants players to “have fun with the toy I’m giving you and you’ll create the story of your ancestors.”
  • Desilet’s other project, 1666: Amsterdam, is currently on hold while work continues on Ancestors.
  • The project is “well funded” and being built by 32 staff at the studio in Montreal. When you work at Panache, no one works on a Monday.
  • On hiring female staff to work on his game: “If the candidate has a dick he’s not hired. I’m not telling the story of humankind only with guys. It didn’t happen that way. You need to make babies.”