In today’s video game market it’s easy to find yourself getting burnt out on open world games. The fact of the matter is that many of them feel similar to each other and don’t differentiate themselves enough. If you’ve found yourself suffering from open world fatigue and have been looking for one that is a little more unique let me tell you about Maneater. It’s an open world RPG from Tripwire Interactive and Blindside Interactive where you play as one of man’s most feared sea creatures, the shark.
Maneater begins with you playing as a mommy shark in what is basically a tutorial mission. Not long into it though you encounter a shark hunter named Scaly Pete and his son and they are the characters the story really follows. Pete has some bad history with the sharks in these parts and he ends up killing the mommy shark. However, a baby manages to escape and this young shark is the one you will play as the rest of the game as you seek revenge against humankind. The story is told through the lens of a reality TV show narrated by Chris Parnell and while it is meant to be humorous most of the time I did find that it struck some emotional chords as well. Over the course of the game you get to really see where Pete is coming from. I enjoyed this as I really wasn’t expecting it in a game where you play as a shark.
The open world in Maneater is split up into a several regions each of which has their own missions to complete whether they be story related or optional side missions. Every mission you complete will serve to reward you with nutrients (the game’s XP system), collectibles, and more all while putting you on a path to encounters with Apex Predators and human Bounty Hunters. The game has a nice difficulty curve to it as you start off fairly weak since you are a baby shark but steadily grow to where enemies you once feared can be taken out with no problem.
While many of the missions in the game do get kind of repetitive, I really enjoyed the feeling of just swimming around and exploring. There are various collectibles to seek out which I found enjoyable and munching on various creatures never really got old to me. The controls take some getting used to and even after several hours I still found them a little frustrating while in combat mostly due to the poor lock-on camera. Outside of that when I was just exploring the waters they handle fine. While in combat you can use a bite attack and a tail swipe and can even grab enemies and thrash them about. Of course, some of the bigger enemies in the game can grab and thrash you as well so you’ll have to make use of the evade button to avoid that. Enemies have certain tells to them letting you know when you should dodge and this is critical in taking down bigger enemies like the Apex Predator boss battles.
As you gain nutrients you can level up your shark to increase various stats and gain new abilities. Things like movement speed, health, and attack strength can all be raised while new abilities can include things such as electric teeth or an improved sonar letting you detect things easier. Overall it’s a fun system to mess around with and you can really come up with some interesting builds for your shark. The last thing I’ll touch on when it comes to the gameplay is that the game should last you anywhere from 10 to 20 hours maybe. If you just stick to the main missions you can finish it faster but if you are a completionist like me then hunting down all the collectibles and doing all the side missions will get you more meat out of it.
The graphics in Maneater I felt were actually pretty impressive. The game has a somewhat cartoonish feel to it but that kind of goes with the over-the-top thing it has going on. There is a lot of variety in the locations you’ll explore throughout the game and I was quite impressed with just how good some of them looked especially at different times of day. The animation work in all of the shark’s movements is also well done. The downside is that I did run into some performance issues on the PS4 Pro when in busier moments. The sound work in Maneater kind of takes a back seat to the rest of the package but what was there was enjoyable. Chris Parnell’s voice acting was great though and I always enjoyed when he came on to narrate something. Those interested in the trophy list will find 33 trophies including a Platinum. The whole list is very doable so long as you find all the collectibles, do all the missions, and fully upgrade your shark.
Maneater, in my opinion, is one of the surprise video game hits of 2020. While the mission variety runs out quick, I somehow never got tired of just swimming around and munching on things. Using the nutrients from doing that to upgrade my shark in new ways was addictive and going back to newly opened up areas was enjoyable. It’s got a very funny story to it but also managed to hit me with some emotional beats that I wasn’t expecting. The poor lock-on camera and framerate issues at times did bring the experience down a bit for me but outside of those things I had a great time. If you are looking for a unique new open world RPG then you need to dive into Maneater.
*Maneater is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Fun, over-the-top story presentation
- Visuals and animations were quite impressive
- Lots of fun ways to upgrade your shark
- Shark controls mostly felt great
- Mission variety runs out quick
- Has some framerate issues in busier moments
- Poor lock-on camera makes combat less enjoyable