Review | Maneater (Switch)
There are plenty of games that rely on realism to draw you in. Some developers use it to create games with beautiful graphics and complex stories. Then there’s Maneater, a game that lets you play as a mutated shark eating anything in sight in an endless mission to become more deadly. You then realize that sometimes you don’t need fancy graphics or deep stories for a game to be good. A weird combo of Jaws and Grand Theft Auto, Maneater hits all the right marks and creates a satisfyingly odd game. While Maneater was initially released a year ago, the game now finds a new home on Nintendo Switch. You can check out our original review here.
Maneater is an open-world action RPG where you play as a shark out for revenge against the shark hunter that killed your mother. You begin the game as a fully grown shark on a rampage in the fictional city of Port Clovis. Eventually you get caught by Scaly Pete, the host of his own show, which is also called Maneater. Once caught, you realize the shark is pregnant, and you begin the game as a small shark pup. It’s at this point you’re thrown into the open world and begin to consume everything in sight in order to evolve.
In the beginning, you’ll truly feel small among all the predators in the water. You can hunt anything around you if you have the skill, but expect to prey on smaller fish until you level up. Once you gain some levels and grow in size, you can begin to take on some of the surrounding predators. The underwater combat is simple, focusing on your shark’s bites with the occasional tail slap. You also have the ability to dodge, which you’ll have to use a lot. The predators thankfully have easy cues to show when they’re ready to lunge. After they miss, you’ll have a small window to grab them and thrash them around, usually resulting in most of their health gone.
Once you get tired of eating other fish, you can move on to the main course: man. While swimming, humans are an easy target. However, the real fight begins when the hunters show up in their boats. This is where the combat becomes truly interesting. There’s a certain rush as you dodge harpoons and bullets while circling the hunters. The combat becomes a graceful dance as you dive and leap out of the water, waiting for the perfect moment to grab a hunter and drag them underwater. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll find yourself grabbing hunter after hunter, as the water turns red from your massacre. One lapse in judgment can be your end as the more you kill, the more they begin to hunt you.
However, you aren’t eating everything for no reason. Each kill nets you more experience and more resources towards mutations. These mutations are where the RPG elements come into play, letting you customize your shark with various power-ups and abilities. These mutations not only look awesome, but are an absolute joy to use. You can be a savage looking monster with bone armor, or play around with bio-electric teeth. Have you ever wanted to play as a shark that turns into lightning? Well you can do that here. You can mix and match mutations to your heart’s content, creating whatever mutated monstrosity that you want.
As fun as it can be, combat isn’t the only thing to do in Maneater. There’s plenty of exploration and collectibles to find as well. You’ll be able to find chests full of nutrients to fuel your growth, cleverly hidden license plates, and best of all, landmarks. The landmarks are hilarious to find, with all of them being a reference to other pieces of media. With every collectible you find, you’ll get a brief blurb from the game’s narrator, played by Chris Parnell.
For those unaware, Parnell plays Jerry Smith from Rick and Morty, and he might as well be playing Jerry Smith as a narrator for this role. Parnell’s narration brings humor to everything that you do and the game truly wouldn’t feel the same without it. While you sometimes might not care, there is a story going on with all your carnage. This however is not the highlight of the game, and it seems like the developers know that. It’s a simple story but it gets the job done, giving you a reason (if you needed one) to eat everything you come across.
The concept and gameplay work great, however Maneater does suffer from some technical issues, especially on the Nintendo Switch. During combat, the frame rate has some heavy dips depending on what you’re fighting. Most of the underwater combat is fine, but once multiple hunters begin to spawn, you’ll find that the frame rate lowers to the point of brief freezes. Oddly enough, the best way to prevent this is to eat the hunters as fast as you can to prevent them from building up.
The graphics for the Switch version of Maneater are a little rough as well. Most of the underwater exploration is decent enough but some of the animations of the creatures are stiff. I often found myself fighting a predator only to realize halfway through that there were no animations, and the predator was moving through the water while remaining completely still. This was even worse in the human animations. Most of the humans that fall into the water jump back and forth between two poses. I found this usually only happens when I’m swimming through large groups of people. Despite this, the game still offers a fun time if you can get over the technical issues.
Maneater is one of the most interesting games I’ve played in a long time. Going into it, I wasn’t expecting much. Similar to something like Sharknado, it’s so odd and campy that it succeeds. There’s not many games out there that let you play as a shark and make it work. With excellent narration, interesting combat and the fact that you’re a mutant shark, Maneater is a fantastic addition to any gamers library. Even though Switch performance is a little rougher than other platforms, Maneater is still an excellent game that everyone should try at least once.
Final Score: 8 out of 10