Maneater on Switch isn't quite jawsome, but is worth a bite if it's your only option


Fin Baller

You all know me… know how I earn a living. I’ll review Maneater for you. But it ain’t gonna be easy. Switch port. Not like booting up the PC to go down to Resident Evil Village. This port report embargo… swallow your weekend… a little eyestrain, a little finger cramp, and down you go.

I’m gonna keep it quick, that’ll bring back the players, put all your eShop customers on a paying basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value free time more than your gaming Twitter clout, Chief. I’ll check out your Switch port. I’ll install it for 3,000 clicks, but I’ll play it — and review it — for 10. Carter got no volunteers, and I’ve got no mates. But you gotta make up your minds: 10,000 clicks… For me, by myself.

For that you get the screencaps… the summary… The Whole Damn Thing.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Tripwire Interactive has returned with a Nintendo Switch port of its open-sea adventure, Maneater, which troubled doomed beachgoers and out-of-their-league fishermen back in the spring of 2020. Lauded by many as “a game they didn’t know they wanted,” Maneater won over a cult of bloodthirsty fans who were able to push through numerous gameplay issues and technological shortcomings and simply bask in the gleeful nihilism and wanton violence found in the fathoms of Port Clovis.

Maneater sees the player oversee the life of a young bull shark, torn from her mother’s carcass and tossed back into the waters by ornery Cajun fisherman, (and reality TV star), Scaly Pete. Players guide the young shark as she evolves from a helpless orphan into a terrifying local legend. As the player explores Port Clovis (a thinly-veiled stand-in for the Louisiana Bayou), our dead-eyed protagonist will battle dangerous predators, ward off fame-seeking hunters, damage the local scenery, and slaughter holidaymakers, before ultimately coming jaws-to-face with her parent’s killer in an apocalyptic, operatic, clash of the titans. Eat your heart out, Hemingway.

Nintendo fans will be pleased to hear that the Switch port of Maneater is more than serviceable. While the original game was never a resource-hungry powerhouse, it’s worth remembering that it launched on PC and consoles with myriad technical problems — from quest-breaking bugs and a brutal save-wiping glitch, to a strange technical issue that would cause consoles to overheat! A year on, most of these more serious problems have thankfully long since been eliminated.

That isn’t to say Maneater for Switch is perfect. I’ve frequently come across an issue where prey — be it fish or human — will simply “freeze” into position, requiring a nudge or bite to get them moving again. I’ve also had on-screen prompts hang around a little longer than they were needed… minutes longer. While some players admit that the adventure’s imperfections are part of its charm and appeal, it should be clearly stated that while Maneater‘s most egregious problems are no longer a concern, the Switch port features its own finful of minor irritants.

Maneater runs smoothly in both docked and handheld mode. Frame rate is important in a title such as this, where atmosphere and immersion are dictated by the natural flow of the water. Save for a couple of extremely brief drops upon resurrection, or when entering a new area of the map, Maneater scores high in the all-important stability stakes, albeit with a little sacrifice of both resolution and draw distance.

It should also be noted that Maneater is a control-heavy title, with battles requiring frequent use of almost every button on the Joy-Con, often in quick succession. As such, I found handheld mode a little unsuitable for longer sessions, with a sense of hand cramp building during particularly long fights. Toss in Maneater‘s notoriously unruly camera, and this might be a job for the Pro Controller.

The Switch port of Maneater sports comparable visuals to its PS4/Xbox One brethren. While none of the scenery or character models were ever top-tier, Maneater‘s palette of comic-book colors and atmospheric lighting bring life and variety to its aquatic world, giving each area of Port Clovis — as well as its gorgeous “Grotto hubs” — unique identity. The Switch handles these effects admirably, though it should be reiterated that Maneater — even on the most powerful platforms — is typified by its “last-gen” aesthetic.

So, should you bite? It’s a tough call. Maneater as a whole is a fascinating example of raw gameplay built around the concept of fun, action, and chaos. Nobody can take that away from it. But it remains both the title’s blessing and its curse. While Maneater boasts an engaging story, uniquely told, and offers players a meat-and-potatoes thrill ride akin to the gaming of yesterday, Tripwire’s dramatic adventure is undeniably a repetitive one, offering much of the same objectives and action over and again, with only the slightest of variables.

This is not a fault of the game’s design, per se, but more of its conceptual limitations. After all, there isn’t really all that much for a shark to do other than jet through the surf, chewing up fish and hapless fools in dinghies. Quite honestly, I think Maneater‘s price weighs heavily on its value. The Switch port is launching at $40, while the PS4/Xbox and Epic Games Store editions — now 12 months old — often feature innumerable sales. The cheaper you can find Maneater, the more likely you are to overlook its negatives and enjoy its many positives.

A year into its reign of terror — and on the crest of its first major DLC expansionManeater‘s Switch debut is a solid one. The repetitious nature of its core gameplay remains an undeniable downer, but the unbridled catharsis of being mankind’s greatest predator, (now with electric teeth!), is as spirited as ever. Maneater for Switch is a suitable purchase for those wishing to go portable for the aquatic apocalypse. Those with access to other platforms might be better served picking up the original release.

[This port report is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]