When I got to roll down a hill and across a highway as a shark in What Remains of Edith Finch, I was laughing at the absurdity and loving the moment. Little did I know, there was an entire game dedicated to the experience of being a shark and I have finally discovered it. Maneater is on Xbox Game Pass and it is an absolute treat to play.
How do I best describe this game? It feels like a mash-up of Grand Theft Auto and Goat Simulator. You start the game as a massive shark and the introductory tutorial has you terrorizing the world around you right from the start. This comes to a halt quickly though when the game’s antagonist, Scaly Pete, captures you and well, ends your life. The game then resumes with you as her discarded pup and you start your journey again as a baby shark (do do do do do).
The game is actually really pretty and the controls are easy to pick up. You eat critters, discover locations and caches, and prey on people, slowly building your resources to unlock mutations and become bigger. Mutations can be leveled up to grant you with special powers and abilities. Your overall goal is to get as big and bad as possible to finally have your revenge on Scaly Pete.
The game is funny with Chris Parnell (Dr. Spaceman!) narrating your adventure and there are several nods to pop culture littered throughout. Here are a couple of locations that I have uncovered so far:
You’re welcome to explore the world and do whatever you’d like as you work your way towards facing off with Scaly Pete. Just keep in mind that if you eat too many people, you’ll attract the attention of hunters. Hunters will not stop spawning so you have to evade them to get them to leave you alone. It is worth it though, as engaging with hunters increases your threat level, encourages named hunters to spawn, which grants you mutations upon completion. The introductions for named hunters and apex predators are similar to Borderlands in their execution, but the fights are never seriously challenging.
My favorite thing is to terrorize as I move through zones and try to uncover hidden locations and treasures. Leaping out of the water and snatching people from their boats while you swim by never gets old. This gave me some serious “I’m king of the world” vibes before I abruptly ended his life.
The game is over-the-top fun and a nice mindless escape. I really enjoy exploring the world, listening to the quips of Dr. Spaceman, and finding ways to become the biggest bad in the water. I mean, with a cutscene like this, how can you not enjoy this world?
It’s a fun game worth trying out and it’s the kind of game you wouldn’t expect to be as good as it is. If you’re looking for a unique experience and an escape from the usual tropes found in many games, I suggest giving Maneater a try.