BLOOD AND TEETH
Maneater is an open-world RPG where, as you may have guessed, you play as a shark whose main goal is to rip and tear their way through most of humanity. While open-world games have already put you in the shoes of a cowboy, a greek goddess called Kassandra, and an Inquisitor with a fancy, schmancy hand, none have really offered you the role of a literal man-eating shark before.
Hmm, needs more teeth
From the get-go, Maneater introduces you to the main villain, a shark-hunter named Scaly Pete and his brutalistic approach to gutting absolutely every shark he meets. He even does so to your poor Mom, ripping you out of her stomach and giving you scars that would make Heath Ledger’s Joker wince in sympathy. With that traumatizing life event being the first thing you’ve ever witnessed, it’s time to explore the world like the strong, independent shark you are! You don’t really ever get the chance to name your shark, but just for clarity’s sake, I’m gonna say my shark was called Babs and she has HUGE Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body vibes. That’s to say; she’s very down to kill boys. And sometimes, girls. Make em into a blood and teeth stew.
Controlling Babs is simple enough, but simple doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to strategize. While eating catfish and turtles are expected from a shark, taking a bite out of humans and their boats isn’t considered ‘very nice’ by Maneater’s redneck, shark-hunting society and thus will raise your infamy. This is particularly frustrating when some side quests ask you to eat humans, but doing so often leads to hunters and their bosses coming after you. It’s during these tense moments you’ll need to evade left, right, up, below, etc. Evading at the right time can save your life against these gun-wielding bullies, giving you the advantage to turn the tides and sink your teeth into their jet skis with ease. Depending on whether you’re completely submerged or not, your evasive actions will need to be more precise as, just like in real life, water is much denser than air. Bullets and pikes will move faster above water, whereas getting to you under the big blue takes a few seconds longer. It’s a nice touch, somewhat meaningless, but an attention to detail that makes learning in Maneater feel exciting.
Ah yes, more blood
The novelty of being a shark and getting vengeance Kill Bill style, however, quickly falls to the side of the road after about 3 to 4 hours in. While the game sets up a tale of working your way to power in order to chow down on some Scaly Pete burgers, it fails to keep up with the narrative threads laid out in the beginning. Sure the appeal of getting to do sick backflips as a shark is incredible, there’s no real campaign outside of being told to ‘do this quest’ and ‘this quest’, and some ‘more quests’ sprinkled on top. It’s fine at first, but after a while, you start to wonder what’s the point of doing all of this, anyway? The only real reward you get is obvious EXP, and thankfully, a cutscene that gives you some background info on what Pete is up to. It’s fine for the most part, but if you’re looking for an engaging story, Maneater isn’t it.
Does that mean you shouldn’t give it a go? I wouldn’t say that. Maneater may not be as enthralling as the Nelly Furtado song, but it’ll certainly make you work hard and make you want all her love because the game’s snarky personality does make you want to continue playing all the same. I’d personally wait until it goes on sale, but whenever you do purchase Maneater, I’m certain you’ll have a whale of a time.
[Reviewed on PC]