Maneater is a recently released action-RPG title that takes ahold of an entirely new style of gameplay by putting players in the role of a shark and letting them explore a world that only Ecco the Dolphin had once upon a time. Now, it’s our Bull Shark’s turn and she’s ready to take a chomp out of the local competition.
+Fluid gameplay unlike anything we’d really seen before
+Levelling and progression is rather well polished and offers a sensible scaling system
+Upgrades are earned through both exploration and story progression
+Audiovisual designs are one of a king and stand out as quite impressive
-Framerate could use a bit of work for better stability
-Target lock-on would help during multiple target encounters
Since I was a kid, I’d always had a fascination with games like Ecco the Dolphin. They were tranquil, relaxing, and offered us a different view of the world around us. Unlike Ecco the Dolphin, however, Maneater is something rather different. It’s dark, it’s violent, and it’s one angry title where your character takes out all their repressed anger issues on the world around them.
But, since I was a kid, I also wondered what it would be like had the tables turned, I was given a set of massive teeth, an ill-tempered mindset, and an extremely uncanny sense of destruction and all the powers that come with being a shark. My adventures would seem rather straight forward, clocking in roughly 40 hours if you were to 100% everything in the game (unfortunately, I was hit with a save state bug pre-day one patch which required me to start over and forfeit all the trophies I had unlocked ahead of the official launch).
But, whatever, I won’t hold it against the game. I since already started over, chomped my way through the local hospitality by making the golf course free up a bit more of room. I’m sure I was only supposed to let my shark consume 10 golfers, but we ended up with almost the entire golfing population in one fell swoop. Less than satiated, I’d mosey my way back from land back into the water, disgruntled by the sudden appearance of the gun and spear-toting shark hunters that have appeared.
Can these Shark Hunters just let me be a Maneater in peace and quiet already?
Before I know it, they’re in my way, popping shots off in my direction. I still need to chow down, I need ten more humans, ten more clownfish and now I’m getting picked on by the local mako sharks that are tired of my crap going down in their territory. That also doesn’t include that I’ll eventually have to hunt down an Apex Predator in the area too and gain whatever mutations that it has to offer me.
I’ll also have to eventually take out one of the hunters int he area too. I think I’m down to Candyman Curtis. I’m not sure he’ll be as satiating as the Scaly Pete or his idiot son. After all, these guys aren’t superman, they’re regular humans with a large group of hunters at their disposal. They’re all snacks anyways and they’ll just serve as filler until the real hunt begins.
See, that’s where this game tends to go. You’ll eat, eat and eat your way through local populations regardless of its natural wildlife or those humans that just happen to be near the water’s edge. Your goal remains constant, eat everything you can, go to your local grotto, power-up your mutations, and go about your business once again. It’s a cleanse and repeat experience that you’ll do a multitude of times when you aren’t going back to previous areas, tearing your way through the various collectibles, which serve as sidequests, throughout your time in the local waters.
Matt Hopper isn’t wrong in the 1975 film Jaws, where sharks only want three things
Tripwire’s action-RPG is, in ways, a love letter to the 1975 cult-classic film, Jaws. All they do, in this game, is just as he said: Swim, eat, and make little baby sharks. Well, you aren’t going to run around making baby sharks, but you’ll definitely be the biggest and baddest baby of them all that seems to evolve in only the span of a few days only.
Your evolutions are caused by the Apex creatures you eliminate ranging from alligators to sharks while also taking out various hunters along the way. Your quests, however, go unchanging for the most part. You’ll hunt creatures somewhat close to your size each time you grow. Though it does seem to make one wonder: Will future DLC offer some variation in the types of quests you complete?
After all, all you do is chomp, chomp and chomp away when you aren’t eating random things such as license plates, the local habitat, and some unfortunate member of the local clubhouse. But, for what it’s worth, your working your way up to Scaly Pete is worth it as each time you encounter him is some form of promising revenge.
After all, he did cut your fin and cut you from your mother’s belly as part of his job as a hunter. Of course, this is about revenge and an act of revenge that spans just eight hours if you just bash your way through the campaign only and not worry about any side objectives or collectible items.
You’ll want to become the ultimate Maneater by evolving and doing everything you can
To have your final showdown with Pete, you’ll need to become quite the adversary, growing from a baby shark (doo-doo, doo-doo, etc.) to a teen, then an adult, and finally a megashark, gaining new abilities and attacks along the way and upgrading them using nutrients from the endless supply of creatures and people you consume.
Let me be honest: This isn’t one of those experiences where you are going to roll your eyes halfway through. Rather, this is a vicious cycle that you’ll enjoy with the sounds of humans screaming as you thrash them about in the water, animals struggling to get away and blood filling the waters around you. Except for the controller arrangement for trashing is a bit awkward.
This is where your gruesome chomping spree will come to a slight slowdown as you’ll wear out on trying to mash R2 while using your thumbstick to deal as much damage as possible. The button configuration is awkward here, which makes it feel a lot more out of place and an afterthought as far as controller designs are concerned. It’d been a bit nicer on the opposite thumbstick while thrashing about.
Overall audiovisual designs make Tripwire Interactive’s experience stand out from the rest
One of the things I can’t help but appreciate when it comes to Maneater is the overall audiovisual design choices the team’s made when working on the game. Every location within the game is quite different from one another. They’re gorgeous and they really pop as you travel from a garbage-ridden bayou to one of the nearby ocean outlets, allowing you to experience things ranging from golf courses to rich underwater caverns filled to the brim with bioluminescent flora and fauna.
There are even the scenic landmarks you’ll find, which serve as collectibles during your time in the waters where you’ll become covered in a bony exoskeleton or electrically powered flesh. You’ll even find that your abilities will help you through your overall experience, allowing you to become faster, meaner and a flesh-made battering ram with the bone exoskeleton or even the electrified set itself.
But this is also where the shortcomings of the title itself do begin to show, which to some, could hurt the game, to be honest. The sets themselves are just minor distractions of these very issues.
All that shines isn’t necessarily gold, which is where shortcomings come to life
While sets such as bone, electric, or even the shadow mutation set, you’ll find that there isn’t a lot to the game, which is actually slightly depressing as this game does have endless amounts of potential thanks to predecessors such as Ecco the Dolphin and Jupiter & Mars, which gave us some ideas of what we could expect.
Exploring can be fun, but one issue is that there isn’t a lot of diversity in the types of quests you will do. They are all pretty similar to one another: consume humans, consume a lot of wildlife, kill down hunted creatures, kill hunters, and even take out the apex creature that is assigned to that area and then move on to the very next zone.
You won’t find much aside from that besides checking in on Scaley Pete, which to be honest, I wish there had been plenty more of since he’s the games antagonist and a rather believable foe. It would have been nice to see various quests such as destroying landmines, boats, and even working with the local wildlife in order to protect them the best you can.
Except, there is none of that, just a shark-induced rampage that somewhat resembles that of Goat Simulator for better or for worse.
And before you know it, it is over – The Conclusion
For better or for worse, this short-lived experience is one that is rather fun for those wanting to just chomp their way through a campaign, giving players a bit to enjoy before moving on. The only downside is that it does leave a bit of room for things to be desired, giving us something that could benefit from some minor story DLC and or objective-based enjoyment.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Tripwire Interactive, Blindside Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Release Date: Available Now
Heck, just the idea of seeing the game from Scaley Pete’s side would actually be rather fun and it could give us a lot to look forward to no matter what we do. I just hope to see a lot more as there is a lot of potential here and it does seem like Maneater can easily joint he ranks of games like Ecco the Dolphin. But who cares what there is to do and isn’t to do, you’re a mother f’ing shark and you get to eat everything you can!
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!