Simple in premise, Maneater serves as no more than a sandbox of fun, but there’s story here as well, for sure. You were harshly torn from your hunted mother’s womb. Thankfully, as a little shark pup, you manage to escape. Though with this brave new world you now get the honour of exploring, comes a grudge. You’re desperate to get revenge on large, loud and hick hunter Scaly Pete. “Soon,” you’ll tell yourself. “Soon”. First, we have some work to do.
Maneater is largely two main things. A sandbox, as already mentioned, but also a gamified checklist. Missions and gameplay are quite simple in design. Killing a certain number of people in a human hotspot to raise some hell, eliminating a target such as an enemy hammerhead shark that’s causing a nuisance, or population control that sees you taking out a school of different types of fish. Yes, there’s plenty of collectibles to be had too. With not a whole lot of mission variety, I can absolutely see how this will be repetitive to some people, but the completionist and trophy hunter in me was thriving in this loop.
Maneater is some of the most fun you’ll have in a game all year
Chomping and attacking humans, fish and other foes can at times be a bit hit or miss for the game. On the one hand, when you’re well over-levelled compared to a foe you’re coming up against, it’s satisfying to watch your shark quickly lodge food in between their teeth and only take them out in a few bites. Be a bigger or more challenging foe, and it can often become this game of cat and mouse where both of you are awkwardly dodging each other, bumping tails to noses and so on. Besides the tail whip you have to stun enemies, your only other means of attack is chomping with R2/RT. Mashing this can be a pain, as can the demanded swinging left and right of the analogue stick when you’ve lodged a foe and are thrashing them about. It resulted in plenty bumping on to the ocean’s floor, rocks and the sort, which is a frustrating juggle of trying to control your direction and assure that food is still lodged in your teeth.
The collectathon nature of the game is charming in its own right. Uncovering caches filled with mutagens, nutrients and the likes help you gather enough points to upgrade. License plates linger in nooks and crannies, and even in the air for you to leap out of the water perform sometimes challenging, Tony Hawk Pro Skater-esque leaps, as if the sea is your own half pipe. Landmarks can also be uncovered too. This sees you arriving in underwater (and above) locations that the narrator will quip on. These locations can look like a clown in sewers resembling It‘s Pennywise, or the banana stand from sitcom Arrested Development. Oh, and the voice behind the narrator is the ever talented and hilarious Chris Parnell, from roles such as Archer‘s Cyril and Rick and Morty‘s Jerry. Need I say more?