Goat simulator has returned! But as a shark… and I can eat anything that graces the sea with its presence and as I play it, it reminds me a lot of Tony Hawk. Maneater the game where you play as a mighty evolving shark, which eats it’s way through the open seas, sewers and lakes, to eventually become a mighty megalodon has finally hit our stores. This game has managed to escape the radar of many gamers but seems to have already established itself with a reasonable fanbase and following. Read here to find out whether this game is a poor technical mess or a marvellous gaming masterpiece!
The premise of Maneater is simple, you play as a shark that seems to have taken swimming ques from a dolphin, which travels around open waters practically eating anything that resides in the water with you. Although, there is a little bit more in terms of mechanics. You can dive out of the water similar to that of a dolphin, diving at your unsuspecting prey and you can also “beach” yourself onto solid ground allowing you to flop around, hunting on land (or boat) for a limited amount of time. These mechanics seem simple at face value, but in actual gameplay they make for one of the most fun and interesting games this year.
Aquatic Life is scattered everywhere, your hunting grounds feel filled to the brim and pulsing with action. You have many variations of prey to choose from such as alligators, sharks, hunters, humans, fish, turtles and so much more. Some enemies that you face require you to do more than just chew them. Enemies such as alphas or apex predators require you to dodge and attack at specific times, using visual ques to help you determine the best time of attack. Another mechanic is one similar to that of the “Wanted Level” in Grand Theft Auto, as you eat more and more people, a team of ragtag hunters will begin to pursue you. After building up your “wanted level” you will be pursued by “leaders” who do higher damage and bring more hunters to the fight making for interesting control of your relentless blood lust.
The game takes an amazingly simple approach to instructing you of your next task. Maneater litters the world (or area) with markers, which you have to navigate through water and land to identify. These markers will represent tasks such as quests, which require you to hunt a certain type of enemy, or landmarks which you have to bite a sign to establish the “art” that it represents, along with many many other tasks. Finally, the game will highlight collectables which are hidden across the world. I usually am not a fan of collectables in games, but Maneater presents them in a puzzle format which I actually found myself enjoying. You might be required to jump out of the sea onto high up a platform, then need to dive jump onto another platform to find a single number plate. Oh, did I mention, sharks can’t breath out of water, so you’ll also be suffocating? This requires a level of finesse which to be applied to each situation, to avoid meeting your premature end.
Along the journey of your “wanna’ be Megalodon” you can evolve and age your shark. Starting as a “Child” you can eat and defeat aquatic life, to grow through ranks such as Teen, Adult or Elder etc. As an addition you can evolve your shark, which works in a loot type fashion. In which you complete a task and unlock a new "body" type. This might be new style fins, or new teeth. The variation in these evolution's is a really nice touch. It allows gamers to chose what their shark ultimately ends up looking like. You also can use different types of experience to grow each of these evolution's to make the perks that they come with better. The game is relatively short and can usually be done in approximately 10-12 hours, depending on how much time you spend exploring the environments. Although, the time you spend playing the game will flyby due to how fun it is to play. When playing the game, I couldn’t help but draw similarities to the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games. Although they play entirely different, the art style, the comedy, and the overall presentation presents a similarity those games. If you are a fan of those games, then it is likely that this is a game you will enjoy.
Maneater is a comical game which combines visual comedy with comedic narration. Its graphical presentation has been perfectly suited to exactly match that combination. Rather than going for realism, the game opts for an over the top, animated cartoon visual pallet. It has extremely vibrant colours and presents the world in child friendly way…until you start chowing down that is. Blood pours out of your prey as you chew through them, polluting the water and ground around you similar to that of a B-movie horror. From my perspective, I do wish that this game had an option to tone down some of its adult themes, as I feel it actually could be a pretty solid entry for younger audiences too. Its simple enough to engage them and doesn't present any majorly difficult situations. Maneater runs really smooth at 60fps on my PlayStation 4 Pro, although in instances where a lot is happening on screen, such as hunters surrounding you as you chow down on humans at the beach, the game can drop down to 30fps, although this is not frequent occurrence.
In ways, Maneater doesn’t actually have a typical soundtrack. Instead it opts to fill your journey with ambience such as the movement of the sea, the sounds of aquatic life and a crackpot narrator (performed by Chris Parnell: Rick and Mortys Jerry, Cyrell from Archer) drilling false facts and a barrage of dad jokes at you throughout your journey. Expect to be told all about sharks being able to clean the sea by eating plastic and other intelligent digs about how modern society has destroyed our marine world. In my opinion it’s the narrator that brings this game to life. His constant satire about the sea world is performed at its absolute finest. I found myself laughing out loud as I played the game and thoroughly enjoyed the information that he fed me during the events of this title. For example: “Did you know Bull Sharks get pregnant and give birth to fully grown young? Wait… What do you mean that’s not entirely correct? That is what the game taught me! The Narrator adds a much-needed extra layer of depth to the game and entices you into doing the next task awaiting his next witty remark.
The sound through-out the game is of a decent quality; it balances the difference between realistic marine ambience and over dramatised cartoon-ish fiction. The muted sounds as you sore through water remind us of what it is like to be under water, but the over compensated sound of crunching down on a turtles shell, reminds us of the cartoon/comedic nature of this game.
Maneater matches its story to the overall tone of the game. It’s a goofy revenge story in which you’re aim is to destroy a “top dog” shark hunter who has dis-embowled your mother. Along the way and as an added insult to your sworn enemy, you are given the opportunity to bring down his fellow shark hunters one by one.
The game throws some funny, yet predictable curve balls, such as learning about the upbringing of this ravaged hunter or even begining to empathise with his son, before predictably having to bring him down. The game never claims to be anything more than a comedic shark game and never takes itself too seriously. That is the key thing that makes Maneater a game that I have ample amounts of respect for.
Overall Maneater is a decent game that embraces its comical cartoon nature. With this being indie developers Blindside's first big entry into the game’s development world, I think it’s a fantastic start to their journey. I do wish that the game was a little longer and had a little more variation in the gameplay, but it never promises to be anything other than what it advertises itself as. I enjoyed my time playing the game, although at its £35 price tag, I do feel like it is a little too pricey for what it delivers. If this game ever comes down to £20 price mark, then I would massively suggest not missing the opportunity to experience this game.