Published on June 4th, 2020 | by Zorbz
REVIEWED BY: SNRUB
Maneater is a game where you get to be a badass shark and it seeks to be good dumb fun… but is it good enough, and most importantly is it dumb enough?
Concept: An open-world RPG about the evolution of a shark, told from the perspective of a deliberately trashy “WHEN SHARKS ATTACK” style documentary voiced by Chris Parnell (Archer, Rick and Morty). You play a man-eating shark and you eat man. That’s it, that’s the concept. Sharks good. Humans yummy. It does what it says on the tin. By this point, you probably already decided if this game is for you or not but in case you’re still listening just wait:
Graphics: The graphics win points for style, but lose points for lacking in the water effects and atmosphere department… and for a game set entirely around water that’s a pretty big deal (but not necessarily a deal-breaker). There’s no water/fire/space levels– just water with different levels of murkiness and it only becomes distracting and frustrating when you can’t tell the difference between water and land in the opening swamp areas.
Character models have a slightly cartoonish look to them, maybe to make us feel less bad about chomping them up for committing terrible crimes like using pink flamingo themed paddle boats. But while the visuals don’t always pop, the animations (and blood) certainly do. The most attention to detail is in your shark itself, which retains its scars and features even as you level up and grow and looks slick both inside and outside the water. Watching it move, and feeling it bite prey is more satisfying than I expected it to be as each evolution makes it about as fresh as it can be.
Gameplay: The map starts off small, and while you’re a baby shark you will encounter a lot of enemies that are way above your level which you can either grind to defeat or skip and come back to later when you’re at a higher level.
Once your stats reach levels 4-10 the game opens up a bit, which means busting through gates into the next area(s) which look a lot like the last area, but with more alive things to make less alive.
Unfortunately the missions are all about sizing up which enemies to bite or using your sonar to look for upgrades through watery mazes – there’s no racing or escort missions to mix things up so don’t expect Grand Theft Sharko, it’s more like Crackdown without the soothing agility metagame.
Sound: Whilst the sound itself wasn’t very immersive in the rear speaker channels, and I didn’t feel like I was literally swimming with the fishies, Chris Parnell’s narration is amazing. His dry delivery of jokes, satire, fake trivia and occasional beats of story are just varied enough for the length of the game. The sound mix is also solid, with the right balance of dialogue, action and ambient sounds.
The other things that just work in the sound department are the cartoonish screams of humans, and every satisfying thrash and bite of different sized creatures underwater. It’s obvious that the most attention to detail went into bites and bite-related accessories; it would be crazy if it didn’t.
Awesomeness: The unusual thing about this game is it starts off with so much awesomeness that it kind of has nowhere to go from there, but once I adjusted my expectations and levelled up from a baby shark enough to avoid so many unfair battles… it started reminding me of the things I liked about Crackdown’s similarly funny narration. The story itself didn’t matter once I was in for the ride, and I was happy to just keep swimming.
Final Word: Maneater isn’t perfect – and maybe I wanted it to be even more silly than it is (lava and space levels, and StreetSharks with human legs for DLC please?) but it feels better than it looks, and if you can look past its minor visual and repetition flaws there’s a memorable experience here.
Maybe the PC Modding community will get their hands on it and make it even better, but for only $59 AUD on consoles you might as well chomp down on this 15-hour campaign that’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect.
Out of 5 Bugs!