I hope all of you have gotten accustomed to what is possibly one of my favorite series to write, the indie game spotlight. Well, today’s entry will be a tad different as it’s neither an indie game nor a AAA game, more like a AA game, but a very unique one at that. Buckle up for this adventure of a lifetime and get ready to witness one of the coolest and most unique games I have ever seen and played, which will make you laugh and go “holy crap” all at the same time. Today’s game is “Maneater.”
What Is ‘Maneater’?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “maneater”? A flesh-eating monster? A carnivorous beast? A succubus? There are so many possibilities, and all of them fit here (minus the Succubus; that’s a whole different level). “Maneater” is a game that gives you control of a shark—you heard that right—and lets you loose in an open world to unleash chaos. There is a plot to this game, and surprise, surprise! It’s not worthy of an academy award but more of a contrivance that pushes you forward on your murderous conquest. The whole story of the game plays like a documentary about a shark hunter who finds and guts a shark, which is how you start the game but guess what? That shark was pregnant, so this caricature of a pathetic shark hunter “marks” this baby shark and throws it back into the water to catch it later. In the process, the baby shark bites his hand off in exchange, and lo and behold, the game begins, and you take control of the shark cub. What follows is; naturally, you chomping on prey, getting bigger and bigger, and evolving all the way up to a megalodon (I thought they went extinct) and exacting revenge on the guy. That’s it. That’s “Maneater,” and it’s awesome (for the most part).
Initially, you can only take on prey your size or smaller, and the water you inhabit is a hostile place where you spend most of your time hiding and striking at opportune moments to gain XP and grow bigger and bigger. With time, the hunter becomes the hunted, as the saying goes, and nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, has the power to stand a chance in front of your massive jaw. There are tons of different varieties of fish here that serve as your meals, and the craziest part is that there are tons of boss fights that you’ll encounter along the way. You heard that right—as you progress through the game, you’ll have to fight one-on-one battles against other predators of the sea like barracudas, giant alligators, other different types of sharks like hammerheads, and more. The whole “swim, kill, and eat” part of the game is something that, despite getting repetitive rather quickly, is one of the best aspects of the game. Why? Well, aside from the countless number of fish and other aquatic life that you’ll encounter and turn into your meal, all of which are incredibly detailed, by the way, the environments you explore are truly what makes you keep pushing forward into the game.
Basically, you start the game in a bayou-type area with polluted waters and hostile environments and slowly progress to different areas by traveling through channels of water all the way up to the open ocean. Each area is rich with its own type of fish and brings with it a different visual makeup. These areas are not only rich in terms of their details, color palette, and variety but also chock full of easter eggs and collectibles to discover, all of which are fun thanks to the brilliant narration by Chris Parnel. Oh, I am sorry, I forgot to mention this entire ‘documentary’ is narrated by none other than comedian of SNL fame, Chris Parnel. His delivery is the highlight of this entire experience if you ask me. You’ll find Easter eggs littered across the areas, from pop culture references to social commentary about how we handle the seas, and all of it just works.
You may be wondering about the name “Maneater” since all that is being done is killing fish? The answer to that question is simple, sharks are the apex predators of the sea, and these waters are full of delicious humans you’ll be chomping on. As you progress through the world, you’ll encounter areas with an abundance of human beings, all of whom can be grabbed and dragged into the sea, where you devour them bit by bit and if you don’t feel like making the waters their final resting places then you can jump out of the water and flip-flop on the surface and grab them there. Seriously, you can do that, but your health will constantly drain you as you do so(naturally, since sharks can’t breathe outside of water for long the last time I checked), which can be compensated at the cost of grabbing human after human. Just like that, you can make your way across the city and into someone’s pool, turning their nightmare into a reality. Kill too many humans, and you’ll have bounty hunters on your tail (your fin, I guess?) who will hunt you relentlessly. This system is more akin to the wanted level system from the “Grand Theft Auto” game, where the more people you kill, the harder it gets for you to survive as they come in bigger numbers with weapons and even send scuba divers into the depths to hunt you down.
The combat system is alright, and the chomping mechanics get old rather quickly. There’s even a mechanic where, if you time it right, you can whip anything back with your tail and do sort of a juggle combo or parry, which is rather cool if I do say so myself. The boss fights, on the other hand, are fast and incredibly fun, but they can get relatively difficult if you are under-leveled or not careful, so be prepared for that. What never gets old is the blood that covers your screen and the water as you eat literally everything in your way. Another thing that never gets old is grabbing a big prey in your mouth and jumping in and out of the water as it struggles inside your mouth—very immersive indeed. I know I sound like a diabolical bastard who enjoys suffering, but trust me, that’s not the case. The game is just so damn unique and fun that way, and being true to the viciousness of a shark is all part of its charm.
You can also unlock and equip mutations that change the behavior of your shark and the gameplay a little here and there. These come as individual pieces that can be mixed and matched while equipping the full set gives you all of its bonuses and aesthetics. For instance, there is a set that makes your shark look like it has an exoskeleton made out of bone and has a very prehistoric look. What it does is allow you to take more damage while also allowing you to dish out more damage. On the other hand, you have another mutation that gives your shark a sleek look and lets it generate electricity as it attacks like a Tesla coil—I kid you not. These mutations are fun and add another layer to this game’s systems, but at the same time, when everything is so repetitive, this can hardly do much.
As you grow in size and level up, you progress further into the story and eventually face the shark hunter. That’s “Maneater” in a little more than a nutshell: an open-world shark pg with gruesome but repetitive combat and a decent-sized world to swim around in with tons to see. The environments for this game once again deserve special praise, as I think the devs did a fantastic job of bringing in diversity and making each area feel different and unique when compared to the others. There are even dynamic day and night cycles and tons of attacks and abilities that unlock as you progress, but the structure of the game remains the same throughout: chomp on everything, grow bigger, chomp even bigger prey, get even bigger than before, and just be a terror underwater. My only gripe, and the biggest one at that, is that the combat could have been a lot better, anyway what we got isn’t too bad; it’s just extremely repetitive. There’s some stuff I didn’t talk about on purpose, but everything basic and important about “Maneater” has been pretty much covered.
Should You Play ‘Maneater’?
Yes and no, and allow me to explain why. You should definitely play “Meaneater” because of how unique it is. The setting for this game and the fact that you play as a shark is something no other game offers other than “Hungry Shark World,” but that’s a 2D mobile game, and this is a 3D open-world RPG, nay, SharkPG. The reason I say you shouldn’t play this game on top of the yes is because of the nature of the game. It’s a 30-minute idea that stretched for 8 hours, and I am in no way blaming the developers for that. What more could they have done? Despite that, the first fifteen minutes of the game are what you’ll be doing over and over and over again for hours to come, and while it is gory and cathartic and fun for the first few minutes, it just turns into incessant violence, which becomes not very fun as time progresses. You are a shark in the water, so expecting to have a dance-off with the orcas and dolphins in and of itself is stupid (but seriously, someone work on that idea; it has the potential to make a bank). You are a shark doing shark things, and that’s fine, but I just wish there was a tad more to help differentiate the first hour from the tenth and maybe add some depth to the formula.
If you like doing the same thing on bigger scales for hours upon hours, then you’ll love this game. If not, then you’ll enjoy it for 30 minutes to an hour and quickly uninstall it. You are bound to enjoy the game for a short while, at the very least, unless you can’t stand to see blood. The game looks and sounds really good as well, especially on Xbox One X and PlayStation 5, thanks to raytracing.
The story will run for roughly 8–10 hours, including level grinding and some side content, and for my achievement hunters, this is an easy completion that will clock around roughly the 12-hour mark with no missable achievements, so feel free to get that 100% if you want it. There’s even a DLC called “Truth Quest” available for the game that can be bought separately, and I can’t comment on it as I haven’t played it personally, but from the looks of it, it offers a new area, a new story, and a new mutation.
“Maneater” is available for $39.99 for the Xbox and PlayStation consoles, as well as the PC, and is also part of the Xbox Game Pass. It’s a fun game that definitely should be checked out, but your mileage may vary thanks to its repetitive gameplay and tons of gore on display. The addition of something I can’t put my finger on could easily turn this game into a solid recommendation, but at the same time, what’s on offer here is made faithfully and is fun regardless.
See more: Indie Game Spotlight: ‘Observation’ – Should You Play The Game?