✔️A unique take on the action role-playing genre. ✔️Cheesy 80’s aesthetic accompanies its bloody appeal. ✔️Chris Parnell’s Narration does wonders for its overall presentation.
❌Graphically lackluster. ❌The Monotony will kick in after a short while. ❌Bottlenecking became an overbearing feature.
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Let’s not kid ourselves. When Maneater’s initial concept was revealed, the consensus that surrounded the entire gaming community was two words, “Jaws Simulator”. To be frank, I was jumping into this title with low expectations, however was pleasantly surprised by how lofty and diverse Maneater was. Sure, the narrative of a shark seeking retribution on the enemy human that killed its mother seems a little far-fetched, if anything foreboding of the title’s questioned value. Discounting its cheesy exterior, Maneater does itself justice with an engaging gameplay loop that will have players inquisitive rather than intrigued to the overall experience. Labeling the game “Shallow” (No pun intended) would be an overstatement, as it bears a unique quality in its supposed shelf-life. If anything, I could see Maneater classified as a cult classic for years to come, but I wouldn’t specify it as anything benchmark worthy, nor groundbreaking.
While intuitive, Maneater’s core gameplay loop can be a little mundane after a few hours of simply directing your cub shark into chewing its surroundings for the sake of bottle-necking its campaign. Empty or repetitive objectives fill the monotony that sets in after a short period as the campaign lacks in meaningful or rare moments. However, Maneater makes up for its verbose variety in favour of skills and unlockables. It’s hard to pinpoint why the title is so enticing. It could come be its casual appeal and simplicity that keeps it engaging, but it delivers an uncommon sense of superiority. Yes, it’s devious but supremacy is basic instinct, and Maneater does an incredible job at fulfilling that guilty pleasure. It’s hard to categorise the title as broad in scope, vast in variety, or chocked full of fun features as all three could be argued with how compact its structure is.
Watch out boy...
Never in my wildest dreams what I have thought I would be describing a video game this way, but here we are. In Maneater, you assume the role of an enraged baby bull shark who is livid with humanity after the sudden murder of their mother by shark hunter, Scaly Pete. The baby shark is left disfigured after a failed attempt made by the hunter to capture the mother’s cub. Now scarred and angry, the baby shark sets off the hunt down Scaly Pete in hopes of avenging its mother’s untimely death. Delegating Maneater into a singular category would be tough, but I would describe it as an action role-playing title, that bears some third-person platforming attributes. I know right? Platforming from the ocean? Its a messy way to describe it, but its unique qualities are hard to define when there’s not many titles out there that you could compare it to.
The baby shark’s skills are simplistic, yet pack quite the punch. Stunning your enemies before sinking your teeth into their flesh, makes for a deviously delicious feat that displays a cheesy 80’s movie aesthetic. It’s easy to make that comparison when we have a plethora of films that depict similar imagery. Siloing out of water, and surfing through the coastline enables the baby shark to attack humans surrounding the bay wreaking total chaos among the commune, in your quest to fish out your foe. Engaging in underwater combat is interesting as it displays a wide range of capabilities that are comparable of most open world RPG’s and their leveling system. Relying on nutrients to survive, you will need to feast on your aquatic associates that hold many fats, minerals, nutrients and mutagenics.
Part of the fun is causing unnecessary chaos across the bay. Destroying boats, sinking ships, and comically knocking beach-goers off their jet ski is as shrewd as it is satisfying. As you maliciously masticate your way through each section collecting various nutrients, your silversurfing buddy will not only size-up in scale, but will unlock multiple capabilities that allows it to engage with deadlier foes. Upgrades will be acquired as your baby shark evolves into an adult megaldon, enabling you to equip an electromagnetic exoskeleton fastened with piercing skewers that enhance your combatants skillset. Exploring all seven regions of the “open” sea, you will discover multiple easter eggs hidden within secret locations that scattered through the title’s broad map. Each location contains its own mini-boss.
These apex predators can sense any visiting creature within their location and may strike at any time. Defeating a range of creatures such as alligators, squids, killer whales, and even members of your immediate Selachimorphan family will enable your cagey carnivore to obtain new capabilities. Creating non-stop pandemonium will call on bounty hunters to be dispatched within your vicinity for your immediate abduction. Each crowd may contain one of ten lead hunters, whom all work with Scaly Pete. Managing to maul each adversary will unlock additional rewards. The sensationally over-the-top aesthetic of Maneater is accompanied with its hilarious narration, supplied by TV’s Chris Parnell (SNL, Rick and Morty) and a mockumentary style approach that guides the player throughout the campaign.
She'll chew you up...
While Maneater’s auspicious appeal may engage gamers with its intrinsic display of unique entertainment, it lacks in visual variety. I had trouble separating much of its design from RARE’s Sea of Thieves. Granted I wouldn’t label the perilous pillage to be graphically gratifying, however the overall aesthetic and graphical fidelity most certainly overshadow Maneater’s bland architecture. I praise the developer for placing a keen eye on our protagonists reflection, making the baby bull shark seem as lifelike as possible, its plasticity was overbearing and became an eyesore after a while. The underwhelming design applied to its terrain and territorial beings bumped its overall appeal down in presentation. Although I must admit, did not experience as many bugs as I thought I would. Sure there was odd technical hiccup, but nothing game breaking.
Composer Daniel James delivers a great soundtrack that is seemingly inspired from the aforementioned Jaws franchise, but also adds some unique flavour to enhance the titles expeditious pacing. While it can be hard to gauge its tempo, the title can be a turbulent flurry of gore but may captivate its audience within its zen moments of calm and tranquility. Maneater’s volatile appeal does its best to amaze players with a unique gameplay loop, that unfortunately does become quite tedious after the onset. The title does allure players who are fans of cheesy horror films, but can be quite an overwhelming experience given how violent it is.
Personally, I’m not totally sold on Maneater but it does bode well for those who are into its aforementioned qualities. It’s dark humor, mixed with moments of complete horror may disgust some, but will leave many pleasantly charmed… in some weird way. Yes, it sure is a different type of role playing experience, but one many will remember for a long time. With an uncommon goal to rip and tear your way through members of the aquatic universe, and ultimately survive the oncoming dangers of daring hunters, Maneater’s delightful display of devious delectable’s will leave an insatiable blood lust, and massive appetite for more.
Maneater - Koch Media
Maneater is an role-playing game developed and published by Tripwire Interactive. The game was released for PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 22, 2020 and is scheduled for release on the Nintendo Switch at a later date in 2020.