What we’re playing: Build the mega death shark of your dreams in Maneater on macOS

9to5Mac’s Game of the Week is brought to you by GeForce NOW. GeForce NOW Instantly transforms nearly any laptop, desktop, Mac, SHIELD TV, Android device, iPhone, or iPad into the PC gaming rig you’ve always dreamed of. And, every GFN Thursday, new games are added to the GeForce NOW Library.

Welcome to our Maneater review. Have you ever wanted to be the shark? Mutating your way into some nuclear grotesque killing machine that preys on innocent beach goers and boating enthusiasts — all through the unfolding of a nearly forgettable story setup that didn’t matter in the first place because you’re a death shark now? Well, Maneater is about as good as it gets and exactly what you’re looking for — a not-quite AAA experience with a campy narrative, interesting mutant shark RPG mechanics, and the freedom to terrorize fisherman and sea life equally. The only thing that could have made it better would be an epically hilarious cover of the 1982 Hall & Oates hit Maneater to kick the whole thing off.  

Story setup

You’re looking at a funny, satirical story of revenge that takes between 12 and 20 hours or so to get through. I played it on Mac via GeForce NOW. The setup follows a spicy Cajun shark hunter’s reality TV series that isn’t quite sure if it’s supposed to be entirely a joke or not. It has its moments — pushing the narrative forward in a somewhat effective manner and offering up a nice change of pace here and there. It is an overall forgettable part of the experience that actually fits in nicely, doesn’t get in the way of your underwater murder sprees, and has about as much of a payoff in the end as a title like this is expected to have for me: very little. 

Rick & Morty’s Chris Parnell, however, is featured as a sort of comically dry narrator to your deadly antics throughout the experience. The tone of his performance here, in combination with the mostly ridiculous shark facts and historical data he spews out with impunity, gel perfectly with the campy vibe of the game and makes for a wonderful touch of levity among the blood-stained waters. 

Perfect killing machine

To put it at its most basic, the actual missions aren’t much more than a checklist of fetch-like quests and go-here-and-kill-this tasks — don’t worry, there doesn’t appear to be any adorable dolphins for sadistic gamers-turned-mega-death-shark to eviscerate here. The real interest is the freedom to wander the mostly open world — it’s spread across eight zones filled with interconnected caves, shipwrecks, and even some fun easter eggs — upgrading your death beast until you can take on the hordes of shark hunters and larger underwater creatures. 

One thing that isn’t overly interconnected here is the actual underwater ecosystem. While I for one wasn’t at all expecting this to be anything near a real-life underwater habitat, but rather an arcade-like, indie-made playground for apex predator lunches, the physics and interactions between the sea life and other creatures is pretty basic. There are times when it feels like your shark is the only really alive creature across the game’s underwater maps, with a series of cannon fodder just waiting for you to chomp them down. You won’t really feel like you’re able to completely ruin the day of a family of killer whales that were already going about their business like you will with the innocent folks having a nice family BBQ on the beach — but let’s face it, they probably deserved it more than the orcas anyway.  

This less-than-realistic approach to the underwater and creature systems certainly didn’t hamper my experience, but I could see how some gamers might feel like the game world is a little bit under-baked and lifeless here. 

Maneater visuals

The same perspective follows through to the game’s overall visual appeal. Again, some folks seemed to think this thing was going to look like a AAA title, or at least want to compare it to those in terms of graphical prowess. Don’t. It can’t keep up with the water physics and underwater lighting you’ll find on titles made by giant development teams, nor will it impress visually overall. It’s a fun playground for shark shenanigans, and in that regard, it’s perfect. 

Soaring through the air to chop an unsuspecting fisherman in half on the shoreline or flailing around on the beach front to wreck a good bonfire gathering is absolutely hilarious — and will send the shark hunters out after you. You have to then take out a countless number of these pursuers to bring on the named, almost boss battle-like hunters — this is the main way we can gather new body parts for major mutating upgrades. 

Upgrade system

The upgrades and mutation RPG-like systems are simple. But with the ability to transform your head, jaw, torso, tail, and dorsal fin with various upgrades and spec’d out body parts, you can turn your shark into a terrifying beast from the deep if you put the time in. It’s not the deepest RPG system out there by any stretch of the imagination, but the upgrades, especially aesthetically speaking, do look kind of amazing. The upgrades come in the form of three categories: Bone, Bio-electric, and Shadow that are essentially best for taking down boats, other sea creatures, and groups of “enemies.” All can be mixed and matched to create your very own death shark, and you can just head back to a grotto to re-spec your build to suit your next challenge anyway. 

GeForce NOW Maneater experience

If this isn’t your first look at one of our GeForce NOW gaming reviews, than you’ll know the drill by now: Download the GeForce NOW client, connect your Steam or Epic Games account, and play your personal library of titles on systems they had no business being available on in the first place. 

I played the Steam version of Maneater on macOS via GeForce NOW with relatively no hiccups. If you’re a total frame rate head, you might have some issues here, but then again, you’re also probably someone who already has a system that plays all your favorite games to your liking sans-NVIDIA steaming. For the rest of us, just looking to access titles that were never released on the only computing platforms we already have, GeForce NOW’s ability to get PC games running on Mac has been a wonderful experience thus far, even with the expected minor FPS and network lag average non-PC gamers might very well experience here. Having said all that, as someone who isn’t overly sensitive but quite conscious of these kinds of things, playing Maneater on a Mac with GeForce NOW was actually quite smooth, and maybe even more so than expected. 

Wrap-up on Maneater

There’s no denying how fun it can be to create your own mutant death Jaws in Maneater, flaws included. Like many of these kinds of indie experiences, the rough edges can often add to the experience. And while there are some elements of this one that feel a little bit too raw, as a whole, Maneater achieves its goal of being a campy Shark murder sim that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and offers up plenty of gory cartoon fun in the process.  

9to5Mac’s Game of the Week is brought to you by GeForce NOW. GeForce NOW Instantly transforms nearly any laptop, desktop, Mac, SHIELD TV, Android device, iPhone, or iPad  into the PC gaming rig you’ve always dreamed of. And, every GFN Thursday, new games are added to the GeForce NOW Library. Check out this week’s games, featuring Phantom Abyss.

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