Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Genre: RPG, Action, “shARkPG”
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 25/05/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Chomping At The Bit!
Maneater was released just over a year ago on all other major platforms and now Nintendo Switch owners are getting a slice of the action; courtesy of indie developers Tripwire Interactive. It’s a game I’d not read too much about nor had I watched gameplay of so I had a completely spoiler free play through. There’s certainly not many other shark RPG’s (“shARkPG”) out there that do it quite like Maneater does and this is one of the major selling points for the game!
Set around various different seas and lakes, you play as one of the most feared predators that stalk our oceans; a shark. However, you do have to work your way up the ranks, starting off as a small fry who’s just been cast from the net (the literal belly of the beast in this case!). Unfortunately there is one hunter in particular who is after your hide; Scaly Pete.
He’s also dragged his son Kyle along for the ride. The more you progress with the story, the more you understand their relationship. At the root of the story, you’ll always be going back to “check on” Scaly Pete and what he’s up to; presented in a spoof documentary style TV show, you’ll be taking a bite out of a little more than just parrot fish and seals.
Maneater is narrated throughout by Chris Parnell of Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and Rick & Morty fame. He really adds to the feeling you’re in a shark documentary with his witty quips and one liners, guiding you through the fresh and sometimes murky waters. There are seven different areas to explore, each providing landmarks, hidden chests and other collectibles which are optional to the main story objectives. So if you’re someone who just wants to stick to the quest at hand, you can do just that. It’s worth bearing in mind however, the more morsels you come across, the more minerals and nutrients you gain. Therefore affording the ability to upgrade and level up your sharks abilities.
There’s Some-fin In The Water…
Yes, that’s right this is no ordinary shark. You can gain new abilities through various upgrades for completing side quests and hunting down dangerous predators. So it’s in your best interest to scan each area and find as much as possible. Swimming around the different areas you have a sonar ability; by tapping the A button the shark will send out a signal that picks up any other fish in the area as well as undiscovered secrets. This is one of the most useful features in the game and I’d highly recommend upgrading this when you can! As well as your sonar, you’ve got different body parts such as electrified teeth and shadow fins that let out a deadly poison which you can switch out in any of the designated safe zones.
There is one safe zone in each area and you can easily fast travel between them; as long as you’re not in combat. These are the areas in which you can upgrade or switch out any of your current abilities and it’s always good to know there’s not one too far away when you’re up against a hammerhead shark or an eight foot crocodile!
Combat is fairly simple, sometimes to the games detriment. The more you grow, the more your shark will evolve. Starting off as a pup, you can progress in size which gives you access to other types of poor, unfortunate live bait. You’ve also got the RPG element of the game in that you level up the more you eat; this can be a slow process in the beginning, but as I got further and further in I found myself levelling up at a steady pace.
Come To The Shark Side
You have a small target reticule which will automatically flick to the nearest fish or other amphibian. You can tap ZR to take a bite out of your prey; if it’s a fairly large morsel then you’ll be battling it out until one of your health bars is empty. There are certain points at which your shark can “thrash” meaning you can deplete the oppositions health bar a little quicker; this works great until you realise that once you’ve done so the opposition remains a floating corpse without the ability to move. This happened almost every time I would thrash a larger enemy, meaning the challenge of defeating them is next to nothing as you can just spam the ZR trigger until they turn into shark bait.
As a deadly hunter of the seas you have your own notoriety bar; much like in the Grand Theft Auto series. You may come across other hunters or other apex predators. The more unsuspecting humans you snack on, the more this fills up, reaching different levels as you progress. When it hits a certain point, a named hunter will come after you that once defeated will add a unique ability to your repertoire. You can equip these from any safe zone.
Will You Sink Or Swim?
On paper, I’d say Maneater certainly won’t appeal to all. However, with it’s ‘mockumentary’ style dressings, lashings of charm and fantastic narration from Chris Parnell I found it incredibly relaxing and easy to dive into. The presentation whilst isn’t up there with its Xbox or PlayStation counterparts runs well in both handheld and docked mode. Tripwire Interactive have done a great job of creating varied locations from the murky waters of Dead Horse Lake to the crystal blue waters of Sapphire Bay.
There is plenty of replayability to be found, with some areas being locked off until your shark reaches a certain age and other enemies may be too strong upon first encounter. Once you’ve completed the main story you can jump back in to achieve that 100% ranking in each area. The RPG style gameplay works incredibly well and for a game that revolves around a shark; there’s always something new to find along the horizon.
Whilst it runs smoothly for the most part, with some combat elements the game does struggle to keep up and the sharks movements become a bit frantic. I feel the inclusion of a mini-map would have really helped with navigation side of things. Overall, a fin-tastic package which I had a jaw-some time exploring with the game only being let down by a few small inconsistencies that held it back from perfection.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Maneater from the Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.