Sharks are always the bad guys in pop culture and media. I think it's a bit unjustified; while they appear to be deadly and fearsome, they're just another animal trying to make it in this cruel world. In Maneater, you'll definitely be eating other underwater creatures and humans, but it's all in good fun and, frankly, humans can be jerks. After you are maimed by a fearsome shark hunter named Scaly Pete, your shark is out for blood in this aquatic adventure. I watched a hands-off demo for Maneater at E3, and it looks as hilarious as it is a grand time to play.
Developers Blindside Interactive describe Maneater as a Grand Theft Auto game with sharks, and I can see that. No, you're not going to be shooting guns, but if you do end up causing chaos, shark hunters will track you down and attempt to put an end to your shenanigans. These shark hunters vary in strength like the Wanted Level in Grand Theft Auto, as far as I can tell. Some of these bounty hunters are uniquely-named and have individualized character models. When they send swarms of boats with men armed to the teeth (no pun intended), it's time to fight.
Combat seems relatively straightforward. You can ram into boats and try to destroy them. I saw the shark hop onto the deck of a boat and eat the inhabitants on-board. It doesn't seem complex and at times it even looked a little unintuitive, but the mayhem and destruction you cause makes up for it. You can even jump out of the water and toss humans like a projectile. Because Maneater is a self-described Shark RPG, there's a good amount of progression too that will aid you in your combat endeavors.
Progression includes growing bigger, for example. As you eat and progress through the game you'll go from a smaller teen shark to something beyond what is natural. Later on, you can get these crazy mutations like bone growths that protrude from your skin and allow you to ram boats more effectively. During the demo we see the shark flop onto the surface of a beach and chow down on people. Your lungs can only handle so much before you seek the refuge of the ocean once again, but with mutated lungs you can last longer out of the water.
Furthermore, we're promised encounters with apex predators, these giant boss-like enemies lurking in the depths below. We caught a glimpse of a terrifying sewer crocodile with glowing eyes as our shark explored the polluted waters of a seaside city. Later on, I'm told we can become big enough to fight a sperm whale.
It should be noted that Maneater features some beautiful underwater environments. I was a little concerned how repetitive environments might appear, but was seen in the demo left me impressed. Underwater is thoughtfully detailed with other fish swimming by, jellyfish illuminating the depths filled with vegetation. It's all very atmospheric, and there's various points-of-interest to explore and more zones in the full release.
The whole Maneater package is framed as a corny TV show, with a narrator chiming in every so often to spew out shark facts or some sort of funny quip. There's a lot of charm and heart put into this game, and I was left with anticipation for the final product. Most games where you take the role of these fearsome fish are either cheap mobile games or are simply too old, like Jaws for the NES. If you're looking for a shark game with a deeper gameplay experience including strong system of progression, Maneater is a game you might want to dive into when it releases on the Epic Games Store some time soon.
For more E3 2019 coverage, be sure to check out TechRaptor’s E3 Coverage Hub.