It’s been a year since developer Tripwire Interactive released their open-world, over-the-top shark RPG Maneater. When I reviewed the PlayStation 4 version last year, I came away calling it a great game but one that could’ve been better if not for some technical issues and some repetitive gameplay. I enjoyed the humorous story presentation and just how different it was to explore an open world as a shark and eat humans and other sea creatures. Now the team has brought the game over to the Nintendo Switch which means now you can take the game with you and play it out on the ocean for a more immersive experience. Of course, how Maneater was going to perform on the Switch did concern me as it’s weaker hardware and it already had issues before. Here’s how it turned out.
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 thought looked pretty good on the PlayStation version but on the Switch they don’t look quite as good. The game has a somewhat cartoonish look to it but that kind of goes with the over-the-top style 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. It’s still a nice-looking game on the Switch but the resolution and texture work is a noticeable downgrade from the prior versions. Load times are something else that is more annoying about the Switch version as they were quite a bit longer than they were before. Performance was solid for the most part but there were occasional drops while playing. The audio 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 a highlight though and I always enjoyed when he came on to narrate something.
Maneater was a great game in 2020 when it originally released and in 2021 on the Switch it’s still very solid. The game has a funny story and just swimming around and munching on people and creatures somehow never got old. Using the nutrients I gained from doing that to in turn upgrade my shark and returning to newly opened areas kept me wanting to play. The lock-on camera is still annoying and the game doesn’t look or perform quite as well on the Switch. Still, this is a solid port of a unique open-world RPG and on the Switch you can enjoy munching on humans no matter where you’re at.
*Maneater is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Nintendo Switch version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Fun, over-the-top story presentation
- Lots of fun ways to upgrade your shark
- Great performance by Chris Parnell
- Controlling and playing as a shark terrorizing humans mostly feels great
- Suffers from performance issues
- Load times and visuals are longer and worse compared to other versions
- Not enough variety in the missions leading to the game feeling repetitive over time
- Lock-on camera can be annoying