We all have our own level of uncanny valley threshold for graphics, some point where our brains reject attempted realism created by graphics. I feel this is more of a problem with movies using CGI than games, in fact a game with weird uncanny valley moments can be quite entertaining, if maybe not for the reasons it set out to do. But I think I have hit my first example of it for my brain in a set of game mechanics.
It happened in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey which I thought I'd try after watching a bit of the quick look. I enjoyed the start of the game, but then I continually found myself floundering with trying to find the next 'discovery' to help evolve my little ape folk. I realise that the game was designed to try and encourage the poking around, trial and error with tools with minimal HUD assistance and uses other cues to try and make the experience more realistic. But this 'realism' just brought me completely out of the immersion the game was trying to establish. I will try not to use too many specifics, I'm sure people will still be wanting to try the game, and as discovery is a key part I don't want to ruin it for people. One example was very specific uses for tools that would have been much more flexible to use realistically. Another was using subtle sound cues as a method of timing things that with all the other ambient jungle sounds just left me holding my head next to a speaker trying to pick out the 'ping'. Or a frankly maddening hand passing system that makes this seemingly natural styled game suddenly feel like a getting someone to play N64 Goldeneye if they have only ever played CoD on a PS4.
I really wanted to like the game, and there is a lot about it I do like but the mechanics just make me feel removed. By being in a strange middle space between being a realistic simulation and 'gamey' (for want of a better word) it feels very off.
I don't play a massive amount of these sort of plonk you in a world and survive games, and the ones I have were sci-fi/fantasy so the logic of the real world doesn't always apply. Am I being odd? Is this game just a bit poop on the mechanics side of thing? Is this the game example of that Polar Express feeling? I don't know. I wondered if anyone else has had a similar feeling from this, or any other game, the breaking of immersion because it's in a really unfortunate middle ground between realistic sim and anything goes game mechanics.