I love games with kooky premises like Maneater.
No grandiose plot that involves saving the world from shady corporations, no unassuming hero needing to rise above his station to stop an ancient evil.
Don’t get me wrong, those plots are fun (especially if done well), but once in awhile I’d just like to step back and play a game that doesn’t make me think too much.
Maneater sounds like it’s right up that alley. It’s a game where you’re a shark and you eat stuff. How’s that cerebral?!
What is Maneater?
Maneater is an open world third person action game developed by TripWire Interactive and Blindside Interactive. Publishing duties are handled by TripWire Interactive and Deep Silver with the game out on PC, Xbox One and PS4. A Nintendo Switch version is planned for later this year.
In Maneater, you’re a baby shark who’s out for revenge on the hunter who killed the mama shark. To achieve that, you’ll eat, eat, eat and eat in order to grow bigger and evolve. It’s kind of like Katamari Damacy if you’re a shark I guess.
Eating replenishes your health and also serves to give you XP points (the type depends on what you eat) that you can use to boost your shark evolution skills. These skills give your shark special powers, such as electric teeth (awesome!) and bone armor (also awesome!). They change your shark’s appearance too, which makes it cooler in action!
Progression in Maneater is relatively simplistic; you just follow a set of goals given for each location. Finish them up and the Apex Predator (boss) enters the area. Beat the boss (sometimes you’ll need to fight another human boss after) and you can continue to the next area.
The problem is that the goals are almost always the safe for every location. Kill a certain number of humans/fish in a certain location. Kill the named bounty hunter. There’s no variety to them, which makes it feel like you’re playing the same stage despite the location being different.
Progress is also tied to your Infamy rank. By killing humans they gradually get angrier, building up your Infamy meter. First come hunters on skiffs, and it all escalates from there until you get heavily armed forces out for your blood. Killing humans is mindless fun, as you constantly need to change tactics but it gets tedious after awhile.
The Infamy meter needs to fill up fully before a bounty hunter boss appears, who you’ll of course need to kill. The bosses can be fun to fight but filling up the meter is anything but.
For the first few levels, the rate it fills up is fine. You’re killing for a few minutes and it’s filled. The higher levels though require immense amount of work to fill up. Since the meter ONLY fills up when you’re fighting up hunters, you’re forced to fight to progress. We all know being forced to do anything makes it tedious and boring and it’s the same thing here.
It’s when you’re fighting a ton that you notice how flawed the combat system is. You’re pretty much relegated to biting or ramming your enemies over and over again. It’s really repetitive, especially on enemies with lots of health.
The lock-on system and camera is pretty much borked too and that doesn’t help matters any. It’s hard to gauge if you’re on target to munch on something; sometimes you’ll overshoot, sometimes you’ll go under. The camera and lock-on can’t keep up, especially when combat devolves into circling around and biting over and over (as it usually almost does).
It also doesn’t help matters that if you breech the surface, the camera automatically moves, forcing you to readjust (and hit a button) just to dive. It makes fighting even more of a hassle in the early going.
While the locales are varied, the majority of them aren’t that fun to explore. It’s only the last few seaside areas where the game opens up and you can dive deep.
Initially though, the areas you can swim around are limited and while you can jump on land to chase down prey, you can’t stay up there too long. That means following the narrow passages of water, which in most of the game, are pretty shallow with very little room swim.
On top of that, the game’s areas just aren’t that fun to explore. A swamp, an abandoned dumping ground, a gated community…these are just some of the places you can visit as you progress. None of them are particularly interesting are they?
To spice things up, the developers attempt to inject humor into the game with outlandish commentary (by the dood who voices Jerry in Rick and Morty) but those repeat way too often.
Remember the early days of FIFA and WWE Smackdown when the announcers would keep repeating the same stuff over and over again? You can relive them in Maneater!
I have to admit though, some of the quips and commentary can be pretty funny. Plus, Maneater has a ton of pop culture easter egg references, which are awesome.
The bottom line.
Maneater is a fun game…if played in short bursts.
It’s incredibly shallow (pun intended) and the violence isn’t as fun as it could be. The fighting system is repetitive, the locations are restrictive and boring and the game doesn’t really make you feel like you’re a badass shark.
If you really want to play a shark murder simulator, hit up Jaws Unleashed! instead. It’s a pain in the ass to find though…
A decent effort hampered by bad camera, lock-on system and boring combat.
- Eating everything is fun.
- RPG mechanics.
- Boring locations.
- Tedious combat.
- Wonky camera and lock-on system.
- Repetitive objectives.
- No way to target limbs.
- Commentary repeats too often.
Interested? You can get the game through Amazon.