Caveman Warriors is a 2D platformer with up to four-player co-op. In it, you’ll guide the four playable characters – Jack, Liliana, Moe, and Brienne – as they journey to rescue their children from the clutches of a mysterious alien race. While the setup isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, the potential is there for a fun romp through prehistoric lands with a sci-fi twist, smashing baddies with primitive weapons along the way. Unfortunately, the execution is lacklustre across the board.
To start with, the controls are slightly cumbersome, and took us a little while to adapt to. There’s nothing wrong with the running and jumping itself, but we felt one or two commands could’ve been mapped with more thought. It’s nothing game breaking, however, and after an hour or so of play, we eventually settled into it.
The four playable characters each have unique abilities, such as Jack’s charge that can break through certain obstructions, or Liliana’s throwable spears which she can lob at specific walls as a makeshift platform. The need to switch between the characters, utilising all their individual attacks and powers, is introduced at a nice pace across the short run time. Playing alone requires some dextrous interchanging of characters, while playing with others alleviates this to a degree, and is more fun as a result.
The enemies are varied and new threats are folded in constantly, keeping the challenge at a decent level. However, there are some areas where there are perhaps too many enemies, leading to some frustrating struggles through sections that seem impassable without taking a couple of hits. When you do take damage, the knock-back on your character is on the heavy side, and if you’re on a cliff edge or making a jump over water, this often causes yet more unavoidable health loss.
Speaking of water, falling into it (or into a bottomless pit) will respawn you on a futuristic floating platform. This isn’t a huge problem in itself, but it’s a glaring example of some inconsistencies in the presentation. Another example: pickups dropped by enemies or found in crates give you health and stamina, but they vary from things like fruit and chunks of meat to, er, Game Boys and a certain plumber’s red cap. What’s more, it’s not entirely clear which items give health and which give stamina, sometimes leaving you wondering why you have less health than you expected. One or two of the bosses are equally out of place. Changes to the music and to the enemy and environment designs are expected as the story takes you from a typical prehistoric backdrop to aboard an alien spacecraft, but there are definitely some elements that don’t quite fit.
Our main issue, however, is just that Caveman Warriors didn’t hold our attention. We grew tired of playing it, frankly. It’s a fairly competent 2D platformer, but it isn’t doing anything that hasn’t already been done many times before, and been done better. Once you’ve collected all the batteries and unlocked the secret levels, there’s very little reason to return.
Caveman Warriors is a half-decent platformer with a relatively unique setting, but is sadly underwhelming in most regards. It plays fairly well and offers some quick and easy fun in multiplayer, but some questionable presentation and frustrating enemy encounters let it down. With a vast pool of quality 2D platformers to choose from on PS4, this game doesn’t do enough to truly compete, and we fear it will subsequently be consigned to history.