Prehistoric platformers are nothing new. Back in the 2D era, we had games like Joe & Mac and Bonk's Adventure to satiate our never-ending hunger for caveman antics. In more recent times, Tak and the Power of Juju essentially filled the same slot, though it was targeted a bit more at kids. Ubisoft and Tiwak also seem to be going after a similar audience with their new 3D platformer Tork: Prehistoric Punk, which weighs in at a budget price of $20. But between Tork's slightly unfinished feel and the rising standard for 20-dollar games, Tork really doesn't have a whole lot going in its favor.
Move over, Tak! Wait, never mind.
You'll play the game as Tork, a little kid from somewhere back in the caveman days, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and, you know, when necromancers kidnapped fathers and stuff like that. In this case, a little evil guy has kidnapped Tork's dad, so you'll take control of the bolo-throwing kid as he attempts to chase the bad guy and his cohorts through time to right what's wrong. You'll start out in prehistoric times, but each of the game's worlds takes you to a different era. You'll move on to medieval times, where you'll bash your way through some castles, and from there you'll move on to the modern era, where you can fight your way through construction sites by beating up robots. Tork's not especially long, and though the difficulty ramps up a bit as you play through it, the game remains easy from start to finish.
While each era may have its own look, the gameplay doesn't really change. That caveman with a club you beat up in the first world gets replaced by a similarly wide-shouldered thug in the modern era, only now he's sporting a glowing stun club. Little rats are replaced by tiny spider robots, and so on. Tork is a shape-shifter of sorts, too, so he'll change into different beasts depending on the era. Prehistoric Tork turns into a yeti, while modern-era Tork turns into a flying squirrel, and so forth. Each beast has its own set of attacks, and transformations are governed by a rage meter that fills as you wallop on enemies. Once the rage meter's full, you can transform, which slowly drains it. Tork himself has a standard melee attack and a ranged attack that you can charge up for extra distance. He can also double jump, which comes in handy. But mostly, the game just boils down to your basic running, jumping, and attacking anything that gets in your way. Overall, it's about as basic as platforming gets.
Tork presents itself from a fixed camera angle. While the right stick can be used to slightly nudge the view to the left or right, you're never given the ability to swing the view all the way around. This would ordinarily be fine and good, but Tork has a few too many instances where you'll need to do a bit of backtracking for the available camera setup to work well. Backtracking isn't necessarily employed all the time, but all it takes is one life-ending misstep into a bottomless pit that you couldn't even see to make the fixed viewpoint annoy the heck out of you.