Maneater (XB1) Review


When Maneater was first announced I got strong Jaws Unleashed vibes from the trailer, but to be fair that is the only other killer shark adventure game I can think of. In fact, it is one of the few action adventure games where the main character is an aquatic animal, and most of the other games were created by Appaloosa Interactive (Ecco the Dolphin, Jaws Unleashed). Now that I have my hands on it, I can definitely say it is better than most other games that take place fully underwater, but is also not perfect in any way.

Presented as a reality television show called Maneater, the game starts with a short tutorial played by a bull shark who is killed by the main character of the reality show, the Cajun white trash fisherman known as Scaly Pete. Scaly Pete then cuts open the bull shark to find a pup who he scars and then loses his hand to. This is the nameless bull shark that is the main character of the game Maneater. For the most part the game just feels like an open world adventure game with some voice over from Chris Parnell (Rick & Morty, Archer) to cut through the monotony of just eating fish and fighting other fish. Occasionally the game will check in on Scaly Pete, but just know that this game isn’t that plot heavy.

MSRP: $39.99
PRICE I’D PAY: $39.99

That’s because bull sharks don’t need plot. They just need to kill, which is what 90% of this game amounts to. Most missions are killing either people or aquatic wildlife. Cause too much mayhem with the humans and hunters will come out. Cause too much chaos with the hunters, and a big hunter will come out. Most of the combat is sort of like dogfighting planes mixed with hack and slash combat. Not trying to use water puns, but the combat is very shallow, and since this game is clearly not interesting in shark accuracy, I wish there was a bit more there.

The other 10% is searching for collectibles, some of which require some large jumps and land based maneuvering. In this way, the game sort of feels like a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game. The open world has smaller areas, each with a certain amount of tasks that sort of feel like the skate parks from the Tony Hawk series. At the beginning of the game when combat was difficult these alternative ways to level up were necessary for me, and towards the end these portions were just more fun as combat really wasn’t an issue.

Which brings me to my first issue with the game: pacing. I realize it sounds like I was about to dive into a difficulty complaint but I actually don’t mind the difficulty in the early game. What I have a problem with is that once I left the first area and was about half way through the second I found myself being relatively unchallenged. Now I realize that I did everything that I could to level up and overpower but the fact that after doing that in the second area I was overpowered in the third was an issue. This continued until right near the end of the game when the level cap of 30 put me at a slight disadvantage against the whales that were level 35 and above.

I say slight disadvantage because at this point I had upgraded my shark with adaptations like electric powers, shadow (poison) powers or the bone powers. However getting those also felt poorly paced. The hardest powers to get are the electric ones, because it requires fighting hunters who are by far the hardest enemy in the game at any point because they swarm with projectile attacks and just keep coming. They only became easier once I equipped the bone powers, and by that point I had the shadow powers and the shadow powers and electric powers are only really helpful for fighting aquatic life. Upgrading all the powers also feels lame. It requires grinding for materials that makes the already monotonous combat even more monotonous.

Springboarding off the monotonous combat is my second issue: no lock on. The combat in this game is similar to a plane dogfight in the sense that the combat is taking place in a fully 3D environment. The player and the AI can move on the x, y and z axis. So early on when I’m trying to avoid attacks from gators the lack of a lock on is supremely irritating. The fight is difficult enough as it is, and the solution of clicking the right stick to see the enemy isn’t helpful when it doesn’t follow the enemy as well because we are dashing past each other attempting to attack one another. Even when I was a monstrous evolved mega shark, I still wished I could lock my camera to a target.

The third issue is this game has some technical issues. Graphical problems occurred now and then. I occasionally got stuck on in the world, and while I was never fully trapped, getting stuck between two sticks on land while my breath meter is running out isn’t really fun. Sometimes I could see the world load in. Towards the end of my playtime with this game, I had the game crash to the Xbox dashboard when trying to warp to one of the safe caves. I’m in no way upset at any of these issues, but it’s necessary to bring up.

So why do I still say I would spend $40 on this game? Because it’s dumb fun. It’s junk food. It’s a B-tier game that has decent writing and is doing something different. I had fun for the just under 30 hours it took to complete everything the game had to offer. It’s not perfect, but neither has been any other title to try and tackle this sort of experience; this game is by far the best though. If just swimming around and proving who’s the real apex predator sounds appealing then this is the game to play. There’s not much out there like Maneater.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Playing as a shark feels great
  • Lots to do
  • Writing is fantastic
  • World is fun to explore
  • Evolutions are cool
  • Some technical issues
  • Gameplay can get monotonous
  • Pacing of upgrades and difficulty is poorly handled
  • Some repetition of spoken lines
Written by
Anthony is the resident Canadian. He enjoys his chicken wings hot and drinks way too much Coca-Cola. His first game experience was on his father's Master System and he is a loyal SEGA fanboy at heart.