Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Genre: Action-Adventure, Simulator
Official Site: Maneater
Release Date: May 22, 2020
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
The weather is starting to heat up…. The beaches are starting to open up… There’s one thing on everyone’s mind: Sharks. Sharks and summer have gone hand in fin since Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws hit the big-screen in the 70’s. This time around, Maneater is the shark experience we need to keep us scared enough to stay out of the water.
Maneater is a classic revenge story at its core:
Experience the ultimate power fantasy as a terrifying SHARK! Maneater is a single player, open world action RPG (ShaRkPG) where YOU are the shark. Devour nutrients to grow and evolve far beyond what nature intended. Become a massive shark, an apex predator of legends, to get revenge on the cruel fisherman that dismembered you. Eat. Explore. Evolve.
Sunshine and Clear Skies
With this being a shark simulator, the tone is very important; something too serious or something too ridiculous would make this a somewhat painful experience. However, the team behind Maneater really hit the sweet spot. The whole game plays out like a reality fishing show, and, really, it’s the perfect take for the tone and writing of the game. Despite the way your shark devours its way though the world, it’s almost impossible not to smile and giggle as you play due to the well-performed narration.
It’s a good thing that Maneater is fun to listen to because it’s thoroughly addicting. Aside from missions, like destroying golf courses or defeating killer whales, there are plenty of locations to discover along with license plate collectibles. Best of all, it all feels really organic. It doesn’t feel like a bunch of unnecessary things were stuffed into a narrative for busy work; it feels like a natural part of the world. So, needless to say, it’s almost impossible not to just complete one more objective or fight one more target.
On top of chasing objectives and tracking down beach-goers, it’s really neat to see the way your shark grows and evolves. Evolutions such as teeth made out of electricity and shadow or stone skin really enhance the gameplay, and it’s fun to feel your shark’s confidence and ferocity grow. Starting off as a small pup not only creates a connection between the shark and the player but adds a thoughtful dimension to the overall experience.
With that being said, starting off a bull shark pup lends an almost horror-like quality to Maneater. That same fear that humans share of what is lurking beyond the ocean’s depths plays into this experience very well. Once, in the very beginning of the game, an alligator scared me so bad I may or may not have screamed, and that little nagging fear stayed with me until I knew I was playing the biggest, baddest predator in the ocean.
Stormy Seas Ahead for Maneater
Despite the high praise, there are some troubled waters in this experience. With most of the gameplay taking place underwater, quick, fluid gameplay is a must. Especially when paired against super-fast barracudas or agile alligators hiding in the bayou. However, the controls can feel clunky and unresponsive at times, especially when the enemies seem so quick and fluid in their own movement. Utilizing the locking camera definitely helps this, but it’s still not quite there.
Most disappointing of all though was the multiple frame rate issues. For the most part, the graphics are clear, and the underwater scenes are really fun to look at. However, when lots of enemies start to swarm or when there’s a lot going on, the frame rate would drop dramatically. The game also crashed a few times, but that has gotten better since launch.
Even with a few bumps in the road, Maneater is a really great time. It’s fun and witty, addictive and entertaining. For you trophy hunters, this is a great game to platinum; the trophies are challenging, but you don’t have to play a thousand times to get it. But that’s besides the point. If you’re looking for a fun way to pass the time, this sea-worthy gem is quite the adventure!
Verdict: Maneater is a shark simulator that is everything you’d want it to be, but one step further. It’s an absolute blast to jet around swamps, grottos and the open ocean, hunting down beach-goers or leveling up to take on apex predators. Discoverable locations and other collectibles break up the somewhat repetitive gameplay. Paired with a fun narrative and witty tone, this simulator doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s a huge part of it’s charm. If the controls had been smoother or if I hadn’t lost my save date (due to a glitch that has been fixed), this would have a truly jawesome experience.
- Fun narrative
- Addictive gameplay
- Humorous tone and writing
- Plenty to do
- Difficult controls
- Dropping frame rate