So I want to be fully honest from the get-go with this Impression, I have not completed the game, and I tend to avoid doing Impressions of games until I have. My reasoning for not having finished it yet will become evident as the piece unfold so bear with me. Maneater is a recent “action RPG,” as many are calling it. In it, you take control of a shark going after a shark hunter, she is caught, her pup cut out and marked, so the shark hunter can find the pup later. You then take control of the pup to grow up, take down shark hunters, and just you know… do sharky things.
I am a bit of an ocean nerd, so this game appealed to me a great deal. The fact that the game also embraces it’s silliness a bit doesn’t hurt. The upgrades for your shark take it less from you know, a shark simulator, and more into, I have a shark with electric teeth.
Gameplay is done in sections, and you have main quests, side quests, and a wide range of collectibles in each area. The areas are all a little different in the other creatures you encounter, how they look, while the quests themselves all remain in the same vein. As you grow and upgrade your shark, you get access to new areas and can even go back to previously unlocked sections and get at new things you were denied before.
The narrative also unfolds interestingly. To help “the story” along, as again you play a shark, the shark is actually being filmed for a reality show, and there is a narrator to guide you through things. Chris Parnell voices the narrators and is delightful and amusing, although he can get get a little excessive on the shit talking if you are dying a lot lol.
This brings me to gameplay and why I haven’t finished this game despite how short it is meant to be. There is kind of a glaring problem for me with gameplay. The gameplay itself is fun if a little button mashy. You only have so many moves you can use, you’re a shark, but with upgrades, you will unlock more. A lot of gameplay has you killing a certain number of fish or people in an area, hunting down large predators (alligators or Mako sharks, for instance), and things of that nature. I will say that I wish there had been more emphasis on going after humans than fellow creatures, still, it can actually be rather enjoyable when you get a flow going.
So what’s the problem? There simply is not enough to do in this game vs. the rate at which you level. There is a lot of flowing through a series of quests and side quests, having fun, leveling, and upgrading, inevitably followed by a complete and total stall. More than once while playing, I would find myself with my quest log cleared, no more open side quests (other than ones way over-leveled for me), and nothing to do. So then you grind. You swim around and just keep killing the same types of fish and people that you were doing in quests, only this time without as much excitement or sense of fulfillment until you can level again and unlock the next part.
Grinding in RPGs has always been a bit tedious, I am aware, but nothing about Maneater supports it being the type of RPG to do this. It is a fast-paced, wild game that just hits the brakes on itself every couple of hours. And simply put, it’s not a good thing. It is not fun enough to just swim around eating a bunch of low-level fish over and over to finally get those last few points to level up and move on, only to know you are going to face the same thing again.
And in truth, it is the only thing I have to complain about this game, but it’s kind of a big problem. In fairness, I am only about halfway through the game, so the brake pumping might happen with less frequency, but it has happened so many times that even getting to this stage is discouraging, especially given what a damn fun game it is otherwise.
The combat is again fast-paced and fun. Swimming controls are shockingly good once you adjust. I mean, I was super worried as swimming in games is notoriously hard, but this game pulled it off. It looks great, the different powers and such you can add are cool. There are lots of fun little jokes buried in the game, and Chris Parnell is a treat.
Even the premise itself is amazing. You are a shark taking revenge on shark hunters. Fantastic.
So it’s just a little upsetting that the big flaw sits over it. Enough that I would tell people not the buy the game? No, of course not. I am still enjoying it for the most part and still think it’s worth it. It is enough that I feel I should caution people, though, and they may even want to wait for a price drop or to see if an update releases for the game.
If there is a massive change in pacing beyond the parts of the game I have reached, then my advice would be to put your head down and get through that, knowing something better is on the other side, but that that is still kind of a problem. If it doesn’t, then I would recommend this game with a huge warning flag that be prepared for the game to kind of get in its own way at times for enjoyment. But man, it is such a fun experience aside from that.
Since writing this, I did some more grinding, and it seems that once you hit adulthood, the game allows for more flow with leveling. There are still moments where the game, as I described it, pumps its own brakes, but that does happen less. I am more inclined to recommend the game now, but I do find the slowness, in the beginning, to be a bit of a problem still.