Hands on with Maneater – The Open-World Shark RPG

We were recently invited for a press event in San Francisco to get some hands-on time with Tripwire Interactive’s upcoming shark RPG Maneater, and the game did not disappoint. Maneater plays as if you are a shark in the middle of a reality TV show, with Chris Parnell (SNL, Rick & Morty) doing voice-overs as a shark expert.

Be as Bad as You Want to Be

You start out as a full-grown bull shark and are introduced to the basics of gameplay like attacking, jumping, and fighting off humans and larger animals, but eventually, you are caught and killed by Scaly Pete, revealing that you were a mother-to-be. The baby, upon being removed, becomes the playable shark and you’ll have to eat and evolve if you want to grow up to be big and strong. Starting out as a full-grown shark was a great way to introduce the core gameplay, but being shrunk down to a baby shark (doo-doo da doo-doo) was a maddening experience. Size matters.

As you play through the game, you can choose to be a good shark or a bad shark, either ignoring humans or eating every one you come across. As for me and my fish, humans are food, not friends, and I ate them all. Of course, this means I ended up with a bounty on my head and eventually bounty hunters came after me. Much like a Grand Theft Auto game, how you are treated by law enforcement is dependent upon how you treat folks in general. Ignore them and just go about your shark business and they’ll leave you alone, start eating them and they’ll be coming after you. The more humans you eat, the higher your bounty. the higher the bounty, the tougher the hunters become.

You Are an Evolving Shark

Once you take over the baby shark, you’ll have to start eating your way back up to being a full-grown shark. The first mission I had was to eradicate an area of catfish by eating them. Turns out that muskies also love eating these catfish and they weren’t too happy with a shark coming in and eating all their food. Being a baby shark means these muskies were larger, and in the water, size matters. There are also apex predators that are considerably larger and these are best dealt with once your shark has grown up a bit. Baby shark will end up dead if it takes on more than it can chew.

As you eat and complete missions, you’ll rank up and be able to evolve in one of your grottos. These are safe havens that are also save and fast travel points and are the only place you can improve your shark. There are two main areas of shark evolution in the game, internal and external. Internal evolutions include things like your built-in sonar which comes in handy when looking for something to eat. External evolutions can give you body armor or even make you electric. I didn’t get to dive into that area so I can only speak from watching videos, but it looks pretty damn cool.

Maneater is set to release May 22 and is shaping up to be a fun-filled game. I played on a PS4 Pro on a 32″ 4K monitor and the game looked incredible. The graphics were sharp and smooth and the animations were downright deadly. If this game isn’t on your sonar, it should be.

Those bounty hunters are gonna need a bigger boat!