Review – Maneater (Switch)
Maneater, the world’s very first “ShaRkPG”, was originally released exactly a year ago for every single platform not called the Switch. Our own Leo Faria reviewed it and absolutely adored its insane premise, to the point of even interviewing the team behind it afterwards. It took the team an extra year to port it to the Switch, and with it, my very first chance to try it out. How does this game live up when ported to a handheld platform?
For the uninitiated, Maneater is a revenge-driven tale about the bitter rivalry between a killer shark and the hunter that had previously killed its mom right before having his arm bitten off. It’s an absolute idiotic premise that fully embraces how silly it, and is all the better for it. All you really need to know is that you play as a shark, and you can terrorize the city of Port Clovis as you try to draw Scaly Pete, the hunter, out for another round.
Controlling the shark is actually really easy, with a simple control scheme. You can bite, dodge and tail whip to stun your enemy. It’s never boring playing as a killer shark, and jumping out of the water to grab onto your latest victim only to drag them back into the water to feast on is oddly satisfying. The lock-on system, however can feel a bit awkward at times, having to press down the right stick to reconnect it on a regular basis whenever the enemy swims past you. It can take some getting used to. You can dive out of the water to grab a person out of a boat or jump onto land and begin slaughtering. Whilst it’s very enjoyable and unique for a time there are very few interesting encounters and the strategies largely remain the same throughout. Still, I’d recommend checking it out just for the concept.
Where Maneater does excel is in its upgrade system. Eating other fish, humans and others will gain you experience points which are then used to level your big fish up. This gives you a basic stat boost at first, but later on you will be able to age up your shark, allowing you to take on more difficult enemies and access parts of the map that otherwise would be inaccessible. The named hunters you will take on throughout the game will also provide upgrades, encouraging you to cause as much chaos as possible. Each hunter provides a mutation which you can unlock and equip back at the grotto. Upgrading is what Maneater does best: seeing your shark evolve from a tiny pup to a giant monster that will tear through everything and everyone, throwing any semblance of scientific accuracy off the window.
Unfortunately, Maneater rarely does anything inventive outside of the traditional “Go here and kill X amount of something” premise. This can be really fun and cathartic for some people, but after a while, it does get a bit repetitive. Swimming around and ticking off a checklist of objectives gets old very fast and you will find yourself just wanting to rush through the story mode which will take 7-10 hours depending on how much side content you do. The amount of fun you will have with its premise will depend on how much you like games all about wreaking havoc.
Visually, Maneater is actually a decent enough looking game. However, its opening areas can be a bit of an eyesore due to the murkiness of the waters you will be traversing. Thankfully, it does get a lot better in later stages, where the water becomes a lot more clear, a lot less dirty. That being said, the quality of said water isn’t exactly that good for a game where you spend almost the entirety of your time under it. Playing on Switch has been a mostly positive experience. Of course, you shouldn’t be expecting the same higher graphics settings you will see on PC but it’s very serviceable with most of the visual effects there and a passable resolution on portable mode. I really wouldn’t recommend playing this on a big TV, especially with the aggressive aliasing and lack of finer details as a result. Sometimes it can look a bit rough. The framerate is also quite solid, despite the occasional hiccups.
As for the sound design, all you need to know is you’ve got Chris Parnell going full David Attenborough, narrating almost every aspect of this game, from just simply roaming the world to eating the citizens around you. It’s hilarious and the casting of Parnell is absolutely perfect, bringing that extra layer that Maneater needs to really standout. Elsewhere the sound design does a great job of making you feel like a terrifying shark.
The Switch port of Maneater is a perfectly fine way to play a surprisingly good game with a very unique premise. While it might sound like just another open world game in an underwater setting, it does have some elements that make it a game worth experiencing. The unique shark-based gameplay, with its feeding mechanics and progression system, is a lot of fun, and very enjoyable on-the-go, despite the limitations imposed by the Switch’s hardware.
Despite some poor looking locations and limitations imposed by the limited hardware, Maneater on Switch looks decent enough.
Controlling a killer shark is interesting but Maneater rarely does anything interesting with the idea.
Chris Parnell narrating a game about a killer shark isn’t something I thought I needed, but it’s absolute perfection.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Despite its incredibly inventive concept, Maneater often falls into open world shortcomings.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Maneater is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Maneater was provided by the publisher.