RPG’s are sometimes at their best when they think outside the box. In this particular instance, Maneater is an RPG that’s looking to make waves. GotGame recently had a chance to go hands-on with Tripwire Interactive’s upcoming “ShaRkPG.” The game has gained a following ever since it was announced at E3 2017, and we were happy to try it for the first time. Oh, what a bloody good time it was.
Maneater’s premise is framed by a reality show of the same name. This show follows Scaly Pete, a shark hunter that makes sport of catching the dangerous predators. After Scaly Pete captures a large bull shark, he realizes the shark was pregnant, essentially delivering the baby shark himself. This bull shark pup ends up being our main protagonist, and the game soon becomes an opportunity to take revenge against Scaly Pete. Since the shark can’t speak, the game has Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live, Rick & Morty) narrate the game. His sensible approach to the dialogue has a comedic charm, even if he’s not delivering actual jokes.
Players will control their bull shark throughout various locations in the game. Using a bull shark was an important choice, as that particular species can survive in both saltwater and freshwater. Each location will have their own apex predator, from alligators to sperm whales. Think of them as the big boss of each area. Since you start as such a small pup, you’ll have to eat prey and gain nutrients to grow. As you grow, you’ll evolve and even gain new mutations to adapt your shark to different situations. In our demo, we didn’t experience any of the big evolutionary leaps, but we did gain the sonar ability. Over time, players will unlock things like bone armor and other useful changes for their shark. Players can equip these enhancements in the evolution menu, able to upgrade their body, and even their internal organs.
Gameplay is pretty much what you would expect, as the game has a heavy emphasis on swimming. Players can swim faster by knifing at the surface of the water, and they’ll even be able to jump out and attack unsuspecting prey. When hunting, there will be small creatures that will satiate your appetite, healing you or gaining resources to upgrade. Eventually, you’ll come across more hostile creatures, proposing a bigger threat. This is where combat comes in, and I have to say, it’s surprisingly addicting.
When fighting enemies, your most valuable weapon is your teeth. Players will be able to take various bites at their foes, dealing damage over time. The bigger you are compared to your enemy, the less they’ll pose a threat. When biting enemies, sometimes they’ll struggle in your jaw. This is where thrashing comes into play, allowing you to deal additional damage. Players can even use a whipshot attack, taking enemies and objects into their teeth and launching it as a projectile. This adds a more fantastical approach to the concept, and helps to give the combat variety.
Aside from the obvious teeth, players can also utilize the shark’s tail for attacks. The tailwhip can knock back and even stun enemies, which can be easier when facing multiple enemies. Targeting is automatic, so players will see a targeting reticle on their nearest foe. From what I could tell, there wasn’t a proper lock-on option, though it’s possible that may be an ability later on. That would be my only complaint for the combat, as it can be a little overwhelming to control the camera in more tense battles. Other than that, it’s pretty fun to become a terror of the deep.
Fish, turtles, and various predatory creatures won’t be your only targets of course. Humans will play a big part in the locations, often being the primary targets. Think Untitled Goose Game, but the goose is now a shark, and instead of terrorizing humans, you’re eating them. Eventually, you’ll come across hunters that will attempt to put a stop to your feeding frenzy. Of course, you don’t have to let a few spear guns and people on boats put an end to your good time. There’s actually a list of hunters that players can take out, and defeating them will help to make you even more notorious.
Outside of combat, the many locations are ripe for exploration. There are plenty of underwater tunnels and secret areas, and all types of local wildlife to find. There are even chests scattered around the world, each filled with important nutrients to help you evolve. We only experienced a couple locations during our demo, but it was pretty detailed, and the game looks great in motion.
The tone of Maneater is easily one of the driving points of the game, as the pure concept is already comedic in nature. Players are basically free to do what they want within the watery sandbox given to them. Want to eat random beachgoers? Go for it! Want to be bold and breach the waters to jump onto various boats to turn them into a blood bath? More power to you. You are the shark, and the world is your oyster.
We were happy to hear that Maneater is also coming to the Nintendo Switch. When talking to John Gibson, CEO of Tripwire Interactive, he was proud that they could bring the game to the portable Nintendo platform. He even said the Switch was a perfect home for it, comparing it to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in terms of having endless exploration at your fingertips. The release date for the Switch release is still to be determined, but the mere thought of a portable shark RPG was exciting.
Our time with Maneater was short, only giving us a bit of the early game scenarios. It was like a mere drop in the ocean, giving us only a taste of what we craved. Despite this, we can’t wait to get our hands on the game again. Luckily, it won’t be too long of a wait. Maneater will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Epic Games Store on May 22nd, 2020. The Nintendo Switch release will come sometime later. We’ll also have some gameplay to showcase from our demo shortly, so stay tuned for that. Are you excited to take on the role of an ever evolving shark? Let us know in the comments below!