Developer – Tripwire Interactive
Publisher – Tripwire Interactive
Platform(s) – PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (Later in 2020)
MSRP – $39.99
Release Date – May 22, 2020
Note – Review Copy Was Kindly Provided for this Review.
I would be lying if I told you I was interested in Maneater before it was released in late May. It wasn’t that I had a problem with the game or anything, I just hadn’t heard much about it before and as a result, didn’t play it at its release. Then a couple of days after its release on May 22nd, all I’m hearing on social media from critics and fans alike is how much fun the game is. At that point, my disinterest turned into curiosity and 2 weeks after the release of Maneater, I was kindly provided a review code for the game and got to work.
The first thing that hit me as I was playing Maneater was how fresh it felt. I can’t say I’ve played any type of Shark game in all my years of playing video games. In the current climate of gaming, it’s hard for many people to find something that’s new and feels fresh to play. I can say for me personally, Maneater was something different so it immediately piqued my interest when I started my playthrough. Maneater is played from a third-person perspective as a Shark and is made by Tripwire Interactive. The only thing I’ve played from Tripwire Interactive is Killing Floor 2 and admittedly I didn’t dive too deep into that game, so this game was really my first big delve with this developer.
We start the game off with a camera crew filming a television show called Maneater (obviously), The crew is following around Scaly Pete, a skilled shark hunter who is hunting down a pregnant adult bull shark after a disturbance on a beach. This results in Scaly Pete capturing the bull shark and cutting its belly open which in turn kills the adult bull shark and releases its baby from the bull sharks’ stomach. After those turn of events, this leads Scaly Pete to spend the rest of the game hunting you down to capture and kill you.
Pretty straightforward plot but I don’t feel this game is meant to be fun more than anything and isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. It has a satisfying ending, although it has a few unexplained elements. The story isn’t anything groundbreaking or original, but you can compare the story in a way to Untitled Goose Game. The story is supposed to be fun and stupid, it’s supposed to make you smile at some of the more outlandish cutscenes and feel a certain type of emotion.
Gameplay-wise, Maneater is about 90% positive and 10% negative for me. I enjoy the various types of prey that are included, you have Catfish, Alligators, Barracudas, Whales, Humans, Hunters, various types of rival sharks such as Makos and Hammerheads, and so much more. The variety is so vast and I enjoy the many different enemy types that Tripwire put in.
There are many different areas that you enter after the completion of another area from Fawtick Bayou to Caviar Key. What I like about each area is that they each have their own story, as you enter a new region the narrator will say a brief synopsis on the history of said region. It’s a minor thing of course, but I appreciate little things like that.
The actual gameplay itself is very satisfying, I enjoyed trying to take on certain enemies at higher levels and taking on certain ones in a different way than I did another enemy. You have the abilities you start with such as your bite and the tail whip and as you devour more adversaries you get more XP to level up and nutrients that are colored in 4 different ways (yellow, green, blue, red) to correlate with certain upgrades. You can also get XP and nutrients from doing other miscellaneous activities such as acquiring license plates, finding significant locations such as a sunken sailboat with a multitude of skeletons, and discovering crates. You use these nutrients to get more abilities such as sonar, more damage dealt to certain hostile, and faster speed.
Now, this is where that 10% negative on gameplay comes in, I enjoy the gameplay a ton and don’t think it should’ve been changed at all but it really could’ve been expanded on a lot more. It’s really evident about halfway through the game that gameplay can get extremely repetitive, the upgrades you get throughout the game don’t really change the gameplay a lot. It’s still a lot of spamming L2 to bite, dodging, and an occasional tail whip. This aspect didn’t ruin my overall gameplay experience in the slightest, but I still wish they did more towards the end of the game to spice up the gameplay just a tad bit.
The biggest problem and remarkable criticism of this game are its various performance issues. The framerate can turn to horrible levels at times, especially in heavily populated areas with humans or hunters. At times like these, the game can be downright unplayable because the screen stutters every single second. The game literally destabilizes in front of your very eyes in certain areas and it feels like the game is going to crash at any minute at these certain areas. There are games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that has framerate issues of their own but is scarce enough to ignore. In Maneater, the framerate issues are too frequent for me not to ignore and it’s the biggest blemish on this fun game.
I experienced one big hard crash throughout my playthrough and as a result, lost some of my progress. It really sucks that a game as fun as this one is plagued with so many performance issues. They’re simply too noticeable to ignore and happens frequently enough to where it becomes a hindrance to the game as a whole. I’m almost sure all these performance issues will be fixed with a couple of patches in the near future, so I hope these issues won’t be prominent in Maneater in the future.
Is Maneater a fun game? Absolutely. Is Maneater a perfect game? No, it’s definitely not. Regardless of the games many performance issues I still had fun going around and terrorizing the fish, humans, and hunters under and around the sea. The gameplay was greatly satisfying even if it did get a little too repetitive towards the end.
On a side note, Tripwire Interactive is publishing the sequel to what I feel is one of the most underrated multiplayer games of the last decade in Chivalry. Chivalry 2 is set for release in 2020 under the same developer in Torn Banner Studios and as I mentioned under a new publisher in Tripwire. I had so much fun with the original Chivalry years ago and I can’t wait for the sequel to that underrated gem of a multiplayer game.
Despite its issues, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have fun playing Maneater. At a time where I feel like you’ve played or seen every type of video game, Tripwire Interactive delivered something new for me, at least in the narrative. I know that there’s some DLC coming in the near future and whenever that inevitably comes out I’ll be waiting to play. Should you get Maneater right now? I would look back in a couple of months to see if the terrible performance issues are still present because I know these issues could be a deal-breaker for most. Maneater is a fun little game, but it definitely leaves room for improvement.
Rating - 7/10