In my opinion the only real negative about it is the lack of information it gives you in order to play. It has been stated that this is on purpose. You’re supposed to learn as did early hominids. You may find that appealing or you may find it frustrating. It also has an auto save feature, but luckily I found a way around that. You can access the folder containing the saved data and back up those files. Then if something goes wrong, like a clan member dies and you’d rather that not happen, you can just restore the files you backed up. You could call this “cheating,” but to me it just makes the game more enjoyable. I really do not like a challenge. I prefer to relax. I don’t want a game to kick my butt and make me frustrated, I just want it to be enjoyable. Your experience may vary.
Warning! You may want to avoid the next section if you want to go into the game without knowing how to play it. If that’s the case, then scroll down to the ”Final thoughts” section to see my final thoughts and links (yes, that label is in bold there to grab your attention).
I’ll try to explain the game play a bit, which may help, but I still recommend checking out helpful YouTube videos, especially if there’s something you’re still not quite sure of. It tells you that it’s best played with a controller. However, you can use the keyboard and mouse combo. I used my Xbox One controller (that I bought specifically for PC gaming), so I’ll reference those buttons here.
The intro goes through “the circle of life” in Africa many years ago and you end up in control of a baby hominid. The tutorial tells you to use your intelligence (by pressing the “Y” button) and find a hiding spot, which you’ll have to look at a blank square and hold the “Y” button to “discover it” when the view is centered on it. You’ll know it’s centered when the square turns orange. Once you get there, it will tell you to press the “A” button to hide. Once you do this, the game puts you in control of an adult in the clan and you’re supposed to go rescue the baby and bring it back to the first (and very safe) settlement. When you’re close, it will tell you to press “B” to comfort the baby. You’ll have to wait for a cue (such as the controller vibrating) to hit the button again to successfully do this. You’ll have to repeat this process a few times. Then you’ll have to “discover” the area you’re in. You do this by using your intelligence like before and scanning a diamond above your settlement (look up above the water). This is how you identify locations. Every undiscovered location, resource, or other has a “?” inside of it’s shape. Locations have diamond shapes and other things are squares.
You may decide to wait on discovering the location, because now is a great time to start discovering and using nearby resources. Everything you use will have to be “inspected” (by holding the “X” button). Once you do that, it will be identified it as a “tool” or food. You’ll want to make a bed. To do this you’ll need to grab a certain nearby resource and putting it on the ground in a pile. Then pick up another, have the first one highlighted, and press the right shoulder button to “add to pile.” Once you have enough, it will give you a “construction” option. After holding “Y” to do this, you’ll have to press “A” a few times and a bed will finally be made. On the bed, you can press “A” to lie down. Here you can call your mate (press “B”), sleep (hold “A”), or look at the evolution menu (press “Y”).
The evolution menu is some what complicated at first look, but you’ll get the hang of it. The first screen you’ll see is your “neural” network. There’s a big central area that contains neural energy. You use this to connect white dots to the main circle in the center. These dots are abilities, like the ability to hold something in each hand. Performing tasks will unlock more abilities. You gain neural energy by doing things with babies around. Each hominid can carry two babies, so it’s always good to carry two of them, so you’re constantly gaining neural energy. Occasionally you’ll see orange dots. These represent mutations. When babies are born, they have a chance to be born with a mutation. You can’t do anything with these at first. In order to make them permanent, those babies have to mature into adults. They can also become elders and keep these mutations. However, be careful not to lose these members by dying or passing a generation. You need to evolve in order to make them permanent.
Before I get into evolution, I want to explain the next screen you’ll see, which you can switch to by using the left shoulder button. It looks very similar to the previous screen, but it will tell you how many “reinforcements” you have. You have as many of these as there are babies in your clan. You want to have as many babies as possible so that you have as many reinforcements as you can get. This is because they allow you to lock in abilities, which means they will stay and follow into the next generation. On this screen, the ones you’ve learned will be bigger, thus more obvious. Those are the ones you want to select to reinforce. Once you’ve used all of your reinforcements, you can advance a generation (press “Y”). This will turn all your babies into adults, adults into elders, and elders will die. Even though elders will die, you can focus on their remains and press “Y” which will give you some neural energy.
This is a great place to insert the concept of meteorites. After discovering the location you’re in, you’ll see a cut scene that shows meteorites falling. Then, you’ll be taken to a tree outside your area, so you can get started on your journey to find one. However, you don’t have to do this, you can do whatever else you want. There are benefits to finding meteorite locations. What you ideally want to do is bring some babies along. Since each clan member can carry two babies, get a few of them to carry all of the babies to a meteorite site. The first one is in a dangerous spot with crocodiles, pythons, warthogs, and maybe even large jungle felines, so you’ll want to be extra careful. You can get members to follow you by highlighting them and pressing “B.” You can switch members (with “A” after having them highlighted and then analyzing them with the “Y” button) if you want. You won’t have to tell them to follow you after switching to another. So, if you used one to tell two to follow you and you switched to one of them, they’ll all still follow you no matter which one you’re controlling. The clan is very great at following so you don’t really have to worry about them falling to their deaths or getting lost. You can move confidently. Eventually, you’ll gain the ability for other clan members to automatically counter attack as long as they have a weapon in a hand. They can also auto dodge and you can also intimidate a threat together, which is more effective than doing so alone. You can find a meteorite site by seeing the smoke in the air. Once you reach it, all you have to do is examine it (highlight it and hold “X”) to get the benefits. Picking up the meteorite is optional, but you can get bonuses for hitting other animals with it or using it as a tool. Once you’ve examined the sight, the bonuses you receive include doubling your reinforcements and also a chance to give babies a mutation, which is why you want to bring them along.
The next screen is the evolution screen, which is again accessed with the left shoulder button. This screen looks completely different than the previous two. The main focus is the “feats.” These are accomplishments you have made, such as killing every animal. Usually these come after having done something twice, such as dodging every animal. When you’re ready to evolve, you’ll gain years for each feat you’ve accomplished. The basic point of the game is to evolve “faster than science” until you reach the end of the evolutionary timeline in the game. There are only a handful of hominid subspecies in the game. Each one comes with new abilities. However, evolving does not guarantee that you’ll become a new subspecies. I think this happens at certain periods on the timeline.
One thing about the game is that you have to press or release a button at a specific time. I guess you could call this a “quick time event.” You’ll hear a sound cue for this, although in the latest version, it seems that cue is much more noticeable. I also noticed that you’ll also see a visual cue at the same time. One good tip to help you hear these cues is to turn the music off (check options in pause menu). One of the things you’ll have to do this with is mating. You’ll have to control an adult male or female or an elder male. Adult females can only have two babies at max. Elder females are infertile, but elder males can impregnate adult females. This can be helpful, because males and females can’t mate if they are “family related,” which you’ll notice on the screen when you analyze them. Once you have a non-related fertile pair, you’ll need to “groom” the opposite gender. You do this by holding the “B” button and letting go when you hear and see the cues. If done correctly, you’ll see a “bonding” bar fill until it says “couple formed.” If you miss the cue, the bar shrinks. It’s not hard to do, but it may take some practice. This is especially important when dealing with animals. When something attacks you, the game will go into slow-mo and give you a small amount of time to react. Here you need to hold “A” until you hear and see the cues and let go at this instant. If you’re holding the thumb stick at the same time left, right, or away from the attacker, you will dodge the attack. However, if you hold “A” and the thumb stick towards the attacker, you will counter attack. You’ll want to have a stick or stone in your hand in order to do this, though. The best weapon to use is a sharpened stick, but it still may take a good number of these in order to kill something. However, when this skill progresses, it becomes more likely that a counter will kill. After the kill, you can examine the carcass, butcher it (if you have a stone in your right hand), eat the meat, and even collect a bone if there is one, which you can use as a weapon.
Crafting is best done when you’re able to use both hands or hold something in each hand. While a sharpened stick is most effective, you can also use dead branches, sticks, stones (including precious and meteorites), and tools (like the grinder) to counter attack. You can craft a sharpened stick with this process: grab a dead branch from a tree with your right hand (the only way you can grab things). Switch hands (left shoulder button) to move it to your left hand. Then hold the left shoulder button to “alter” it. When you hear and see the cues, let go and you’ll strip the branch, making it a stick. With the stick still in your left hand, you can grab a stone (there are three kinds), meteorite, or precious stone. Then you can alter it using the same buttons as you did converting the dead branch into a normal stick. Although that process only took one time, this time you’ll have to perform the alter action of hitting the stick with the stone multiple times depending on what kind of stone you’re using. You’ll hear and see when it’s complete.
Stones can be altered, too. For example, if you hit two granite stones together successfully using the same method as sharpening a stick, eventually the one in your left hand will turn into a grinder. You can use this on some materials to make pastes that give you bonuses like protection from bleeding, falling, freezing, etc. Doing this with two basalt stones will make another tool, just like doing the same with two obsidian stones. The obsidian tool is, I think, the best and most effective. It will drastically reduce the amount of actions required to make a sharpened stick and do more damage during a counter attack than a plain granite stone.
You can get evolution bonuses by hitting every animal with each type of stone, stick, precious stone, meteorite, bone, or stone tool.
There are a few biomes. You’ll be in the jungle at first and there will be lots of trees. You can climb on trees automatically. You can grab leaves after jumping by holding “A,” which will cause you to swing. You can then let go and swing onto more leaves, a tree, a rock wall, or onto the ground. Just be careful, because even though you can fall a good distance, falling too high will either give you an injury or death.
There is a good variety of food you can eat such as fruit, insects, and meat. Some foods have a chance of giving you a negative status effect, while some can give you a positive one. One way to remove some negative effects is to drink water or just wait until they go away. You drink by going into water and holding “A” to “scoop” it. You’ll have to examine a single water source type at first in order to do this.
There are three main survival stats; hunger, sleep, and water. When the screen starts turning white (kind of cloudy or foggy), it means you need to eat. When it starts turning black, like someone who can’t keep their eyes open, it means you need to sleep. You can sleep anywhere as long as nothing is in your hands, but a bed may be better and give you access to the evolution menu or calling your mate and mating. Just be careful sleeping on the ground, because something could attack you.
Your clan members can do some cool things, too. Eventually, you’ll be able to get them to “mimic” you. You just do an action and double tap “B” and they’ll do what you just did.
You may also find other hominids in the wild. When you find them, you’ll notice their animation. Depending on what they’re doing, they’ll need something to convince them to join your clan. This could be food or something to heal their wounds.
I’ve been enjoying this game. I haven’t finished it, but I decided it was time to go ahead and write a review for it. Since I watched BestInSlot play it (and I recently rewatched his playlist), I’ve already seen the end. The more I see and think about this game, the more I want to play it.
Even though I’m really enjoying the game, I’m not giving it the highest “must play” Cheerful Ghost rating, even though I think it’s a “must play,” especially for those of us who enjoy similar kinds of games. My reason for the score is pretty much due to the steep and frustrating learning curve at the beginning. However, that learning curve can be overcome with just a bit of research, especially by finding some helpful videos on YouTube (see some links below). The game can also be a bit simple and repetitive, which some may find boring (though it doesn’t bother me).
Let me know what you think of this. I’ve wanted it since it came out, but I finally got it on Steam at a discount. I don’t regret getting it and getting better at it certainly made me feel better about it. I’m afraid it doesn’t have much replay-ability, but it is supposed to be the first part of a trilogy. I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the trilogy is like.
Here are the links I mentioned:
Videos by FireSpark81:
Beginner’s Guide: https://youtu.be/VKGgwO3KGwo
Tips For Exploring: https://youtu.be/ijYYau9gPhc
How to Deal with Tigers: https://youtu.be/z8rqyVACUdA
Evolution Tips: https://youtu.be/MKtSw0Xx2Cc
Playlist by BestInSlot:
Be sure to check out other YouTube videos for other areas of the game that you feel you need more knowledge about, as I did (like how to dodge and counter).