Dinosaurs are amazing, and absurdly cool. Just ask any number of kids, and they probably they have their favourite dinosaur or three. Even though the love of the massive reptiles tends to become less intense as most of us grow older, there’s no denying there’s something incredibly evocative, impressive, and awe-inspiring about giant predators as long as a school bus, or giant sauropods dwarfing even a T. Rex.
The list below features fourteen games which feature these amazing creatures, long lost to the time abyss. Quite a few of them are games where you play as a dinosaur and stomp around caring little for the small hairless monkeys waving weird sticks at you.
Others will put you in the unfavourable position of being a human in the land of giants, forced to shoot dinosaurs before they can close in and eat or crush you. It’s a struggle for survival no matter how you cut it, and it makes the conflict interesting. Without delaying much, here’s our list of…
|Dinosaur Fossil Hunter||2022-05-04||Simulator||82%|
|Ark Survival Evolved||2015-06-02||Adventure||15%|
|Carnivores Dinosaur Hunter Reborn||2015-05-27||Indie|
|Dino D Day||2011-04-08||Action & Shooter||82%|
|Jurassic World Evolution||2018-06-12||Simulation||90%|
|Jurassic World Evolution 2||2021-11-09||Simulation||85%|
|Peter Jacksons King Kong The Official Game Of The Movie||2005-11-17||Adventure|
|Lego Jurassic World||2015-06-10||Adventure||83%|
|Monster Hunter World||2018-08-09||Action||80%|
|Primal Carnage Extinction||2015-04-03||Action & Shooter||74%|
Saurian is a single-player survival simulation letting you roam the Cretaceous world as one of several species.
There are six playable species planned, but at the time of writing only Dakotaraptor and Triceratops are playable. We can also expect T. Rex, Ankylosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, and Anzu to join their ranks down the line.
There are also plans for many non-playable species to flesh out the world. The developers are committed to making this game realistic, which means several stages of life for the dinosaurs, various survival mechanics like looking for food, and believable AI systems for interspecies interactions. The development is also aided by paleontologists providing scientific expertise for extra realism.
Parkasaurus is a great cartoonish alternative to the more realistic Jurassic Park Evolution games.
You still get access to all the crucial bits, such as designing a theme park to not only make the dinosaurs comfortable and healthy, but also to make good money off visitors. You’ll also hatch new dinosaurs, manage employees, and handle escaping dinos. All the expected tycoon elements.
The robust management and complex design tools are contrasted by the game’s aesthetic. Parkasaurus uses a fairly low-poly models, slightly exaggerated designs, and pastel colors, which creates a friendly, cartoonish look with the added benefit of the game being really easy to read at a glance. If you’d like a lighthearted dino-park tycoon, Parkasaurus is the way to go.
Second Extinction answer an important question: what would it be like to defend yourself against hordes of rampaging dinosaurs?
SE is a squad-based co-op first person shooter for up to three players. It’s also a hero shooter, with a few characters to choose from, each with their own passive and active abilities. Teamwork is a big theme for Second Extinction, so stick together.
The hordes of dinos are also quite diverse, with an exciting amount of unhealthy mutations giving them abilities beyond those of normal animals. A regular raptor is bad enough, add some acid spit and you’re in big trouble. Second Extinction is in Early Access at the time of writing, and there are more hunters and dinosaurs coming.
Dinosaur Fossil Hunter
Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is pretty much exactly what the title says.
Instead of playing as dinosaurs or interacting with them, here you’ll be looking for their bones, reconstructing skeletons, and putting up on display in a museum. As far as profession simulation games go, Fossil Hunter has a good bit of educational value and a pleasant degree of detail.
You’ll look for dig sites with a georadar, carefully excavate the bones, clean them up in your lab, and assemble the skeletons. As an added bonus you also get control over the museum displaying your discoveries, so you can get really creative with it. Dinosaur Fossil Hunter can be a truly relaxing, satisfying experience for anyone who does not fancy action games or tycoons at the moment.
Ark: Survival Evolved
The presence of dinosaurs is one of the most distinctive features of Studio Wildcard’s ARK: Survival Evolved, a science fiction survival game set on eponymous Arks.
Most importantly, they are more than just a set dressing roaming elegantly in the background. They aren’t even just enemies, either. If you have the patience and the resources, you can turn the dinos into your bodyguards.
See, many of the creatures in Ark, dinosaurs included, can be tamed. Some can be used as guard animals, others can even be ridden to battle if you have the right kind of saddle. There’s even one, called Titanosaur, big enough for you to build a small mobile base on its back. Nothing quite like rolling into enemy clan’s territory sending arrows and lead from a giant stompy dinosaur. You should try it.
Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter Reborn
|Developer:||Digital Dreams Entertainment LLC|
If you’re a fan of realistic hunting games, but got tired of deer and elk and such mundane creatures, why not scale up a little?
Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter Reborn is first-person shooter letting you hunt a wide array of dinos using several weapon types, including tranquilisers if you don’t want to cause another extinction. You also get a gadget to give you useful intel, but it won’t hunt for you.
Each dino uses a different AI, forcing you to adjust your approach just like you’d do in a more mundane hunting game. You’ll stalk game, pay attention to how the wind blows, and watch out for carnivores. The specimens you hunted will appear in a gallery where you’ll be able to take a good look at them without worrying about ending up as a T. Rex chow or spooking a more peaceful beasts.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|Developer:||800 North and Digital Ranch|
A little known fact about World War II is that Adolf Hitler’s cadre of researchers discovered a way to bring back dinosaurs.
Now the ancient beasts join Axis forces on the battlefields…and they have guns attached to maximise their deadliness. While the Allies don’t have the dino-making resources of Axis, they also managed to get one their side, the small, machinegun-using Protoceratops.
There’s a total of 7 playable dinosaur classes, including the classic Velociraptor and even the T. Rex which is randomly assigned to Axis players, but Allies get more points if they kill it in deathmatch. There are also several playable human classes, because somebody needs to play humans so that dino players can have fun running around with their weaponised ancient reptiles and eating others.
Jurassic World Evolution
You think you could run the Jurassic Park better than John Hammond’s employees from the movies?
Now you have the chance. Jurassic Park Evolution puts you in charge of all operations and planning taking place in a new dinozoo, and it’s harder than it seems, even without a greedy dude sabotaging the project. Set up enclosures, trace paths for the visitors, and have park security on standby, just in case.
Keeping thigs running smoothly, getting new dinosaurs and catering to their unique needs is already going to take a lot of your attention, but you’ll also need to make sure people keep coming, paying for tickets and merchandise, which means a constant chase after new specimens to display. Some of them may also break out and cause irreparable (but memorable) chaos on visitor walkways.
Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
|Genre:||Action & Adventure|
Do you remember the King Kong movie from 2005? The one with Jack Black?
It had a game made out of it and was quite good, giving you control of two different characters: scriptwriter Jack Driscoll, and the big guy King Kong himself. The Skull Island is home to many creatures which can swallow a human whole in one gulp, and that includes dinosaurs, more specifically: the good ol’ T. Rex.
The big advantage of playing as Kong is that T. Rexes that can demolish Jack now can just be punched in the face. No other game on this list allows you to punch a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the face, such as it is. Dinos play a strictly adversarial role in the game, but they look good and dealing with them is exciting no matter which character you’re in control of at the moment.
Lego Jurassic World
Developer Traveller’s tales has a unique talent for taking great franchises, even the less child-friendly ones, and turning them into fun, engaging games.
They’ve done Lord of the Rings, they’ve famously done Star Wars and their Jurassic World is in the same vein, with levels inspired by the classic movies and J. World, plenty of familiar characters, many hidden secrets, and good replayability.
There’s about a hundred playable characters, including over 20 dinosaurs, and unexpected figures like the cartoonish Mr. DNA or Steven Spielberg himself. It reconstructs the plot of the four movies quite well, although with a good sense of humour and with way fewer graphic moments. If you want to stomp around as a more friendly-looking T. Rex or a Triceratops, Lego Jurassic World is a great game for it.
Monster Hunter: World
|Developer:||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
Although Monster Hunter World is set in an explicitly fantasy world, with dragons, manticores and humanoid cats, there’s a lot of fauna that looks like it came straight from the Jurassic Park.
Even before getting to the Larger Monsters (that you’re usually hunting), there are a few small ones, like the Parasaurolophus-like Aptonoth, or Kestodon having a bit in common with Pachycephalosaurus.
There are also pterosaur-looking wingdrakes like Barnos or Mernos. But perhaps the most easy to notice dino in the game is Anjanath, which looks like a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex with a side act as a fire-breather. There’s also Kulu-Ya-Ku and its cousin, Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, which have a few raptor-like features. Even the monsters that don’t look like dinosaurs often still have an undeniable prehistoric vibe.
Primal Carnage & Extinction
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|Developer:||Circle Five Studios|
The idea is that researchers on a remote, obviously tropical, island have found a way to bring dinosaurs back from extinction, but like in virtually every story like this, dinos broke out, wrought havoc, and now a team of hunters needs to clean up the mess.
What it means for gameplay is that you get an asymmetrical PvP, with some players acting as hunters, others as scaly beasties themselves.
There’s about a dozen different playable dinosaur species, including obligatory T. Rex, and each species belong to one of the classes. Spinosaurus is a Tyrant, Pteranodon is a Flyer etc. Humans also come in classes, but they are not dinosaurs, and therefore not as interesting, but they do have useful toys they can use to thoroughly ruin any dino’s day.
The Isle is an Early Access game that lets you become one of about 30 different dinosaurs, both carnivorous and herbivorous.
Dinosaurs come in all sizes, from tiny harmless beasties flitting from bush to bush, through massive predators like T. Rex, up to humongous creatures like Camarasaurus. Most species require some time spent eating and surviving before they grow to their full size.
Every dinosaur has heightened senses, although there are some species-specific differences in range or intensity, and they are tremendous help in finding food and water. There are also several roars that act as basic communication of intent, and should combat become inevitable, each beast has appropriate attacks. Sometimes, however, fighting is a bad choice, better to just run and hide.
Turok & Turok 2
|Release:||1997-11-30 / 1998-10-21|
Turok games, based on a comic book from the fifties, are some of the coolest old-school first-person shooters.
They never got the fame and fortune that Doom and Quake enjoyed, but they did alright, and are well worth remembering, because shooting dinosaurs was still quite fun even before the turn of the century. As Turok, a Protector of Earth and the Lost Land, you’ll face aliens, magic, and dinosaurs.
The original game follows a Native American man called Tal’Set, who was replaced in the sequel by a man called Joshua Fireseed. Both need to deal with mess taking place in the Lost Land, where time is merely a suggestion. That means not only odd monsters, but also dinosaurs dragged from the prehistoric time by temporal shenanigans. Turok games are absolute dino-classics
Dinosaurs may be extinct, but they live on in our imagination
With the possible exception of dragons, there are few creatures in science and fantasy that have the ongoing appeal that dinosaurs have. Did they have feathers? What did they actually look like? Their skeletons alone have inspired generations of people, and they continue to do so. Games listed above are hardly all the titles featuring prehistoric reptiles, but they are some of the best. Did your favourite make the list?