Maneater (Switch) Review
I miss games like Flow and E.V.O, being a creature evolving by working its way up the food chain. Maneater has devoured its share of sea life and people, and it has finally come to the Switch. Does this cautionary tale of electric, bone armoured mega sharks still have some bite? And will I ever write the word Maneater without getting the Hall and Oates classic stuck in my head?
You begin as a big ol Shark, tasked with killing and eating people until Shark Hunter and “Scaly Pete catch you”. As part of a reality show that follows Pete he kills and guts the shark, only to find that she had a baby shark on the way. You are now that baby shark, starting back at the bottom of the shark ladder. Pete cuts the baby shark to identify you, and in return, you take his hand before being tossed overboard. You must build up your strength out in the swamps to become a truly legendary Shark. You’re going to have to eat everything in your path.
Maneater is not a game that takes itself seriously. Between the goofy intro and reality tv angle, along with comedian/actor Chris Parnell’s occasional narration and Shark facts, it always reminds you it’s meant to be fun. Along the way, you’ll encounter a bunch of different named Shark Hunters (although they never stick around long), and now and then, check in on how Scaley Pete is faring. Most of the time, the game drops the whole reality show version of Maneater, although it would be poorer without it. The game could have done with more Chris Parnell as the Shark doesn’t have any interactions other than biting and eating. Chris is your companion through this journey of violent destruction.
Maneater is an open world Shark RPG, eating everything that moves for EXP and currency for upgrading. Killing and eating increases your EXP, but you need to build up a few different currencies to level up the individual abilities and equipable upgrades. At first, you need to work towards getting access to the tail whip. Eventually, you’ll be unlocking electric teeth, shadow fins and bone tails. Early on, you need to be more careful, given you only have a bite and tail whip. Once the upgrades come into play, you’re a mutant Shark with elemental damage as you rip and tear.
While the game’s title may be Maneater, you won’t be doing much chomping on people initially outside of the intro. Having to start from nothing means you’re not strong enough to take on more than the small fry and non-aggressive sea life. There are many turtles, groupers and catfish waiting for you; you’re going to need to build up your levels. When the game does open up more, you’ll be getting stuck into humans and hunters. With the hunters, you’ll be able to do some real damage; you’ll be trying to leap up and pick them off of their boats. For the first hour or so I was having some trouble with the Alligators messing me up. They can really pack a wallop. But two hours later, every animal learnt to fear me.
The actual chomping is where the game comes undone a little. Swimming around works just fine, considering how hard it can be to make moving around in water anything less than annoying in games. As soon as it comes to biting anything, it feels frenzied in a way I don’t think is intended. An icon highlights the item you’re targeting when you bite, but when they’re an aggressive target, all bets are off! They’re darting and trying to attack you, you’re doing the same to them, and it quickly turns into a disorientating mess until you pull away to eat some health-restoring small fry.
Want to get anywhere? You’re going to need to take on the Hunted and Apex animals, as well as the Shark Hunters. In the early stages, it feels like a lot of level grinding to take on anything as you fight the combat. Once you start getting the more fantastical upgrades you can do some real damage and a lot of the challenge quickly falls away.
I found Maneater works best being played in short sessions. When trying to sink an hour or more in, it draws attention to the repetitive nature as you work through each area. The objectives mostly revolve around eating a certain amount of things or killing the hunted/apex of the area. As the game progresses, there are more obstacles, more attackers in the area or new vicious beasts. Although, as I mentioned earlier, the upgrades can quickly make you the apex predator well before you hit Mega.
So how does Maneater run on the Switch? It plays well, and while there isn’t as much detail as other versions, it holds up just fine if you want it to run decently. Some strange bugs pop up over time. The one I hit most often was my Shark or my victim getting frozen on the spot for a few seconds. If it was my shark, they didn’t attack me while I was vulnerable, but I got a lot of damage in whenever they got stuck.
If you’ve seen anything of Maneater, chances are you’ve seen it can get violent. You maul everything that moves and leave nothing but large pools of blood in the water. If you hate gore or animal attacks, especially shark attacks, I wouldn’t recommend this game. It can also be a touchy area given people do die in Shark attacks. Even if they aren’t common, they do make the news. Maneater never comes off as anything other than a goofy open-world Shark game with an equally goofy reality show wrapping.
Maneater is a decent open-world Shark game. It’s fun slicing through the water as a shark. The Switch version holds up, although it doesn’t fix the repetitiveness of the game. If you want a game where you can just swim around an open world without thinking too much, Maneater will give you something to sink your teeth into and thrash the life out of it for ten hours or so. Also still got the song stuck in my head in case you were wondering, I hope it’s in yours too.
+ Swimming around is fun
+ Runs well on the Switch
- The objectives get repetitive fast
- Combat is a mess