10 best video games where the player is an animal

Given that human beings create video games, it’s no surprise that most of them feature people as protagonists. However, several games break this tendency to put players in the shoes of various other members of the animal kingdom. Some of them aim to present realistic depictions of the struggles that befall wild creatures, showing how terrifying and confusing the world can be from their perspective.

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Others leap into surrealism and absurdity by dropping animal characters into comic or bizarre stories. Whichever direction animal games take, their unique playable characters open up new options not possible with humans.


Tokyo Jungle

Several Tokyo jungle animals lined up

There is no shortage of excellent wilderness survival games, but few of them present players with such interesting survival situations. Instead of empty woods or tundra, Tokyo Jungle immerses players in a futuristic Tokyo after the extinction of humans. Various animals have taken to the streets and are struggling to survive, from predators like lions to fluffy Pomeranians.

The game features a free and open-ended survival mode, but it’s most notable for a campaign divided into story-driven missions centering around different animals. Players can play as a Pomeranian, Deer, Beagle, Lion, Hyena, and Robotic Dog.

Ecco the dolphin

Title splash screen for Ecco The Dolphin

Ecco the dolphin may have been released with a cover featuring realistic aquatic animals and an ocean, but the premise of the game is much more bizarre. Eco starts reasonably enough with the titular dolphin searching for its pod, but the experience expands into the creature traveling through space and time to battle an alien threat.

Gameplay-wise, Ecco does some pretty mundane things with dolphins like sing, swim, and ram enemies. Ecco the dolphin spawned four sequels, including real-life narrative follow-ups and a few edutainment games aimed at young children.

man eater

The giant mutated mako shark in Maneater prepares for battle

Jaws was a groundbreaking film that still holds today, and its influence extended beyond film. Many video games have featured sharks as enemies, but man eater paints these animals in a slightly friendlier light than its name suggests.

This open-world game features a bull shark seeking revenge on a fisherman who disfigured him as a baby and killed his mother. Players must hunt to stay alive and gain new abilities, and there are plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc on beaches and boats.

Untitled Game of Goose

Untitled Goose Game Two Players

Despite its deliberately vague name, Untitled Game of Goose is a humorous puzzle and stealth game that tasks players with controlling a goose to disturb humans and complete various tasks. Unsurprisingly, the controls are relatively limited; players can honk, run, flap, and bite/hold objects.

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The concept for the game came from a photograph of a goose posted by designer Stuart Gillespie-Cook in a corporate group chat, and the team wanted to break the trend of stealth games always focusing on violence. Untitled Game of Goose was originally a unique gameplay experience, but a post-release update added a co-op option as well.


Okami HD

Okamia game in which players control a dog-like sun goddess, was originally released in 2008 on the PlayStation 2, but this beautiful action game only gained popularity as it spread to more systems and received an HD re-release. Okami is not only one of the best video games based on mythology; it’s one of the best games of its kind, period.

The visuals are a nice mix of cell shading and watercolors that held up remarkably well, and the celestial brush (which lets players draw symbols to summon different effects) is a unique mechanic that differentiates Okami of his peers.


Diver shooting a shark in Depth gameplay

Most games in which the protagonist is an animal are PvE experiences, but Depth goes against this trend. This online multiplayer game is asymmetrical, pitting a team of divers against a single shark.

The team of humans must escort an automated mini-submarine in an attempt to gather treasure, and they have various weapons and tools at their disposal to fight and track their enemy. The shark starts out weak, but he gains evolution points to give him new abilities that help him eat divers or destroy the submarine.


A mother badger in the game Shelter

Shelter is a survival game in which players take on the role of a mother badger as she attempts to guide her litter of cubs from one den to the next. Although the graphics are beautifully stylized, the threats remain grounded and realistic.

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The biggest dangers players will face are predators and fires, although food and water should also be monitored. The series currently has three games; Shelter 2 features a Lynx mother and her cubs, and Shelter 3 focuses on a herd of elephants.

goat simulator

The goat is projected into the sky all over the map

Many video games try to depict animals in a realistic and sympathetic way, but goat simulator is not one. This third-person game is one of the most random simulators out there, and it tasks players with causing as much damage as possible with a goat.

This animal can perform menial tasks of destruction like headbutting, but goat simulator encourages players to get as extreme as possible with the game’s ragdoll physics. Hidden objects in the game world also unlock other animals such as ostriches and giraffes.

deadly creatures

A spider hides in Deadly Creatures on Wii

deadly creatures is an action game released in 2008 for Nintendo Wii. The game is divided into two types of levels featuring different playable arachnids. Missions centering around a young scorpion are intense in combat, while tarantula missions focus primarily on stealth.

In addition to hunting small insects, deadly creatures also pits the scorpion and tarantula against large predators like a rattlesnake and the Gilla monster. A unique feature of the game is its use of Wiimote motion controls to perform attacks and web shots.

Octodad: the most daddy catch

Octodad at the supermarket with his wife

Octodad: the most daddy catch has players controlling the titular cephalopod as it tries to navigate everyday situations while hiding the fact that it’s not actually human. These chores include housekeeping, grocery shopping, and family day trips.

Controlling all members of Octodad is intentionally difficult, and the goal is to simply navigate each task without causing too much of a stir. While Take the most daddy was traditionally released on several game consoles, its predecessor was a freeware title made as a hobby project by several DePaul University students.

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