Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Watch out, boy. They’ll chew you up.
Maneater is an open-world action game where you play a ferocious shark. If that is all you need to be sold on what Maneater has to offer, you will be incredibly satisfied with the complete package.
After a fun, bloody tutorial section on a beach, you will find yourself as an adolescent shark in a saltwater bayou, evading larger predators and feasting on smaller prey. You are given a handful of objectives, usually grind oriented, such as eating a set amount of catfish or destroying structures underwater to gain points and mature into a much larger shark. From this area, you can move onto six other equally spacious, visually diverse regions that you access via underwater tunnel systems.
Traversing is easy enough, think of it like GTA with a shark instead of a fast car. Additionally, you can speed up, jumping (which you can also do temporarily out of the water, flopping across a stretch of land to create a shortcut will never cease to be funny), evade attacks, ‘knifing’ on the surface, and submerging.
Combat is similarly straight forward but with enough additions to let you mix things up and experiment with attack styles. Biting, tail whips that can be used in combination with biting to launch your prey like a volleyball, clamping your jaws down and thrashing to weaken stronger opponents. Eating creatures and humans will replenish your health
Enemies come in the form of fellow predators, some requiring you to mature and grow in size to beat, and human hunters in boats or jet skis. Special enemies appear throughout the game in the form of extra-large creatures and colourful celebrity shark hunters. There is an attention to detail behind the way every enemy attacks; men use harpoon guns but they are useless in the water unless they are equipped with scuba gear, alligators actually do a relatively authentic death roll when they clamp their jaws down on you and you have to struggle to escape, certain smaller creatures will attack in groups, every enemy requires a different approach which forces you to think of your toes. Or fins.
To aid your hunting, the game offers an array of mutations to unlock and upgrade including sonar, electric teeth, the ability to breathe on land for longer, and more. You can access these upgrades by levelling up, completing challenges, and killing boss characters.
There is honestly not a great deal of variety in the challenges, you will find yourself repeating yourself an awful lot, but if you find the core gameplay loop engaging and like the idea of upgrading your shark into some absurd super predator then this is only a minor complaint.
Former SNL star Chris Parnell plays the role of the narrator, the host of a Shark Week style reality show and presents everything with a shark tooth sharp wit. The game has a real sense of humour about itself and outright refuses to be taken seriously, this level of awareness helps make every element of Maneater entertaining, even through the repetitive mission structure. It wants you to have fun and there is plenty to be found if you go with it.
Maneater is a straight forward game with a novel hook (what if GTA was about a shark?) and a refusal to over complicate that idea turned it into one of the most entertaining games of the year.