Review – Prehistoric Dude

Some heroes fight through hardships in order to rescue damsels in distress, like Mario and Link. Others, like Doomguy, want to save the world from a demonic invasion all while avenging the death of their pet rabbit (it’s true and it’s canon, look it up). The protagonist of Prehistoric Dude, the titular Dude, fights for a different, yet somewhat relatable cause. He will venture through hostile lands full of traps and enemies in order to get back a piece of ham that was supposed to be his dinner, which was stolen by a dinosaur. Somehow, we ended up getting a metroidvania with such premise as a result.

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Whenever you kill an enemy, they’ll fly away towards the screen with this neat pseudo-Mode 7 effect. I like that.

The bite-sized Prehistoric Dude is the latest release by Ratalaika Games, a publisher known for their budget indies, some of them quite good, some of them pretty forgettable. It’s a small and straightforward metroidvania that can actually be beaten (and completed with a 100% rating!) in a single run if you so choose. Its map is quite small and despite calling itself a metroidvania, its map layout is very linear.

Simply put, you have small areas that are only connected via a mandatory boss fight. You basically need to explore each area in order to find a key that will open the boss’s lair. Beat the baddie, get a new item, and proceed to the next area with your new powers. There might be one or two previously inaccessible health or stamina buffs located right before the boss room that can be reached with your brand new item, but this is the only instance of backtracking that you’ll find in here. Well, besides the repetitive ammo procurement backtracking you’ll be forced to do over and over again due to the game’s poor design choices, that is.

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This boss battle was a nuisance due to the game’s wonky collision detection.

You will spend a good chunk of time looking for axe icons hidden inside small bushes. Those icons act as ammunition for your caveman protagonist to defend himself against small animals and the handful of bosses scattered throughout the game. There are two problems with this design decision. First, you will need to constantly enter and exit screens in order for the bushes to randomly replenish their stock. This means that you never know if you’re even going to get ammo when you reenter a room.

There is also the fact that some gates will only be unlocked after you’ve killed all enemies in one room. Prehistoric Dude forces you to constantly defeat everyone in sight, meaning that you will almost never have enough resources to move on to the next area without having to focus on grinding for ammo. You can get a club for some melee combat, but the game’s wonky collision detection makes this optional item a nearly useless powerup.

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Hey, aren’t you from Plants vs. Zombies?

When it comes to its presentation, Prehistoric Dude doesn’t impress at all. I get that the game was developed by a single person on what I assume to be a stupidly small budget, but I still have to mention the fact its environments lack variety and its graphics are overly simplistic, even though I do appreciate some of its character sprites. Its soundtrack is comprised of just a handful of songs, all of them equally terrible. I ended up playing the game on mute after a while.

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Dude, just eat this bird’s carcass. You can even grill it on this lava pool.

Prehistoric Dude could have been somewhat enjoyable for a budget-sized indie if it wasn’t for its handful of very annoying issues. I can ignore its repetitive visuals, handful of typos and bad soundtrack; it’s a hindrance that comes with the fact you’re basically developing an entire game on your own. What I can’t ignore, on the other hand, is its incredibly poor gameplay. Its collision detection has a mind of its own and I really dislike its combat mechanics. Having to constantly enter and exit a screen in order to grind for random ammo drops is annoying. This is far from being the worst game I’ve played in recent memory and I respect the hardships of having to develop a game by yourself, but Prehistoric Dude really needed more time in the oven.


Graphics: 4.5

It’s beyond simplistic, but some of its character designs are quite cute. The problem is that the game suffers from a severe lack of environmental variety. It’s just way too visually repetitive from beginning to end.

Gameplay: 4.0

It’s a very basic metroidvania control scheme. The combat and hit detection are very half-baked, however.

Sound: 3.0

There are only half a dozen songs in here and they will get on your nerves very quickly. The sound effects are mediocre at best.

Fun Factor: 4.5

It could have been a somewhat passable budget-sized metroidvania if it wasn’t for its faulty hit detection and poorly designed, as well as mandatory, resource procurement.

Final Verdict: 4.0

Prehistoric Dude is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Prehistoric Dude was provided by the publisher.