Hunt the Carnivores before they hunt you.
Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt was something I absolutely did not expect. It was quite a niche hunting title in which you shoot dinosaurs to add to your trophy room, that my sister and I played over 20 years ago. I did not expect it to be a game that received a modern remake. Whilst I’m not a hunting game aficionado, I have memories of playing the original for hours at a time as a youngster. I was quite keen to have a go at this remake once I heard about it being released on Xbox Series X.
The story is that there is no story. You are a nameless hunter who travels from their aerial base to a variety of dinosaur infested islands with the goal of hunting the biggest dinosaurs you can find. There’s no explanation for any of this, so just have at it! You’ll choose which island to visit, which dinosaur species will be your target, as well as your weapons and equipment, before being dropped off to hunt down your targets.
Equipped with your minimap and binoculars, alongside your weapon, you’ll scour the island for your dinosaur of choice, before shooting them and having your drown return them to your base to put in your trophy room. You’ll need to account for your visibility, noise level, and scent in relation to the wind direction to get close enough to take a shot. Even then taking down one of these thunder lizards isn’t easy thanks to their tough hides and big, pointy teeth. Assuming you get close enough, you can hold your breath to get an idea on where their heart is, allowing you to take them out in a single hit. If you don’t land that shot, the dinosaur will run off if you’re lucky. They’ll run at you if you’re less fortunate.
You’ll have a limited amount of ammunition to take with you, and once you’ve run out you’ll need to head back to base — by which I mean menu — to set up for another run. Should you die at the feet of a cretaceous creature before then, you’ll be back at those menus, but with your trophies and currency from that run lost. Luckily, your currency is permanent, so if you spent money on a weapon upgrade, that money isn’t lost. You can just sell the upgrade and get all the money back.
And that’s pretty much the whole game. Do a hunt, get some currency, buy some upgrades, and then do it again. In a way, that’s a good thing, because it feels almost exactly like the game I remember playing growing up. On the other hand, it really does feel like a relic of the past. Aside from the addition of a progression system of sorts, and a couple of quality of life improvements, this is very much the same game that I played 20 years ago. The mechanics feel quite outdated, and the tutorial feels utterly rudimentary, leaving out explanations of various game mechanics.
This extends to the Carnivores’ presentation too. The visuals feel like a mid range game from the Xbox 360 era, and the sound effects are weak or in some cases non-existent. I can’t quite comprehend why I can’t hear a dinosaur running around nearby. They’re gargantuan! Their pounding footsteps should send soundwaves out over a huge distance, and their roars should be heard from the other side of the island. But no, there’s a little ambient sound and some reasonable weapon effects, but that’s about it.
Equally limited is the amount of content on offer. There are only three weapons — four if you count an optional, albeit useless, sidearm — and each of these have the same upgrades, which is a pretty small line-up. Then there are only really three environments, reskinned with different weather effects and times of day to pad out the stages and progression system. Most disappointing is the range of dinosaurs though. There are six that you can hunt, and only two of them are carnivores. A hunting game called Carnivores features only a tiny number of carnivores to hunt.
It might be apparent that there’s a fair bit I’m unimpressed with here, but I just couldn’t help but want to play a little more. And then a little more. And some more after that. The short hunt times, low punishment for failure, and pretty simple mechanics, only you’ve figured them out for yourself, made for a game that was ready for a quick blast of light fun. Even if I only killed one dinosaur, that was still a little more progress towards another licence or a slightly different biome. The nostalgia bug might have bitten me a little here, however the largely sound game that Carnivores presents made me comfortable coming back for more. Whilst there are other, better hunting games out there, I really don’t think there’s a better option for hunting dinosaurs with a semi-serious setup. Now I’m going to go toe to claw with another T-Rex.