Maneater Review – A Direct Descendant of Jaws?

Maneater, also known as the SharkPG (well… an RPG, but with Sharks) is a revenge story. It is about a young shark whose mother is killed by a hunter named Scaly Pete, and its meteoric rise through the food chain to find its way back to Scaly Pete, and kill him. There isn’t much more to the story than this. After all, this game is focused wreaking havoc as a shark that is constantly evolving. However, the story is presented in a sort of documentary style, almost as if the player was observing shark week, but from the perspective of the shark. Chris Parnell also lends his voice to this game, as the narrator that gives insight to the different tasks that the player does as well as advising players of what is happening in the world around them. This is definitely one of the best parts of the game, as Chris Parnell often has hilarious commentary to add to various actions that the player takes.

The story mode will only take around 10 hrs to complete, with completing the game 100% only taking a few hours more. The map is divided into several regions, which all have their own unique aesthetic to them, but have similar side quests and collectibles. Completing these side quests, from defeating “hunted” enemies, which are creatures that have been a real danger to humans, and to you also, as well as finding all the collectibles, can actually be quite fun at first, however, like many other open world games, Maneater suffers from a rinse and repeat formula that can really make it feel like it has been padded out for the sake of more game time. There are only so many times that we would like to jump on to the beach and eat 10 humans and then avoid or fight the hunters and move on to the next place to do it all again. 

I enjoyed my time playing as the shark, with gliding through the water with its fin sticking out being a particular highlight, however, the combat leaves much to be desired. One of the first challenges in combat is that there is no defined lock-on system. There is a focus threat button that can be pressed, but due to the fact that there may be many threats in the area, and the lock on does stick to one target, this feature becomes quite useless. A proper lock on system is sorely needed because many of the creatures move around erratically, and because the shark’s movement is based on momentum rather than individual steps, it becomes very difficult to keep track of the enemy. Often times I would be battling one creature, and it would dart behind the shark, breaking the threat focus and meaning that I would have to build the sharks moment to turn it around, and by that time the enemy would have moved again would have attacked the shark from off screen. This frustrating issue occurred quite frequently also, leading to some unavoidable deaths. And this game will punish you for dying, meaning, you may have to reattempt a side quest even if death occurred a bit after the side quest was completed.

The RPG system in this game is also not that deep. It offers only three different sets of upgradable evolutions for the different parts of the shark, which help alter its stats, and that’s it. There are no skill trees or major customisation options. Just a few different choices for the shark’s head, body, fins, jaws, tail and 3 organ slots.

The overall presentation of this game is another of its highlights. From the murky waters in the Fawtick Bayou, to the rich city skyline in Sapphire Bay, each area has unique designs that really help with player immersion. Swimming underwater looks fantastic, with a large variety of sea life being present in the game. A favourite of mine is seeing a large group of seals darting around together, swimming back and forth, however this is mainly because it means that my shark, gets to eat! Jumping the shark up onto shore into a group of humans is also still one of the funniest parts of the game. Plus, the way the shark hops around once it’s out of water is also just a hilarious sight. 

Maneater does suffer from some technical issues, most notably, the inconsistent frame rate. There were many times that the game would slow right down to a crawl mid fight, on one occasion even leading to the game crashing. Any time there was a lot of wildlife around, the game began to slow down. Most times this would quickly be resolved, other times it would continue on for a while. One hilarious glitch that I came across in my time playing Maneater was whilst attacking a group of humans. One human in particular decided to just start running on air up in to the sky.

So, should you play Maneater? Well, it depends. It is definitely an entertaining game that will have you laughing several times over. However, don’t expect to ge  t the level of depth and intrigue that you may find in many of the more popular RPGs. However, the potential is definitely there, and every video game series has to start somewhere, right? Hopefully the devs go back to the drawing board and make a second game that is a lot more fleshed out, with more to do.

Review by Samuel Incze

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