FBT reports Maneater’s DLC for Community Standards violations.
Maneater was one of my fave games from 2020. Hilarious, violent, nonsensical, and really pretty, I spent a lot of time just taking in the sights and the seals. I couldn’t wait for a DLC, a sequel, a something – it was a travesty there was no New Game Plus. But finally we have Truth Quest, which sees the Mega shark discovering a secret base offshore that might explain the evolutionary changes she went through during the main game. Let’s dive in.
One of the elements I loved about the original wasn’t the story, the environment, the RPG style or even the shark. They were all great, but what sold it was the voice over. Maneater was set within a Discovery Channel style reality show that followed big shark hunters and bigger sharks. Narrated by Trip Westhaven (Chris Parnell), who happily pointed out all the inconsistencies, gave our antics a plot and made cutting observations about pollution and human behaviour, he made the whole thing sort-of believable as a hysterical Shark docu that was more concerned with ratings than accuracy.
But it turns out the show has been cancelled due to the violent footage of, well, me eating everything in sight. Believing the show was cancelled because he exposed something with the shark's evolution, Trip creates a “TubeYou” channel and begins following the Mega again, convinced it’ll reveal a global conspiracy.
Problem is, this new direction sounds like Trip scrolling through Truther Twitter, claiming people in power are really ‘Insectoids’ and yelling the CIA turn frogs gay. You can’t satirise Conspiracy Theorists, they’re already ridiculous, so just spouting nutso ideas isn't funny - it's like playing a game narrated by David Icke or Alex Jones. Or both. It's tiresome and eventually annoying listening to theories about the ruling classes and chemtrails with no punchline. It’s not parody, it’s repetition.
And so is the game. There’s no real changes to the gameplay or the shark, we gain a new level cap and evolution options, but they’re not game changing; about the only one I found useful was a gene that stopped anything weaker attacking the shark, which was always annoying when you’re a lvl30 Mega and a lvl1 snapper decided to have a go. Get off.
Since it’s an Area 51-style military base, we get soldiers instead of holidaymakers which makes it more dangerous, and the fishies are more threatening - some have also taken advantage of the gene-altering chemicals in the water, but there’s nothing really new here. A new annoyance is a challenge where the shark follows the scent of something, which is basically a race through rings before the timer runs out gag. Meh. We do get helicopters though which was the only thing missing from the main game. Leaping is still hit and mostly miss, but I’m not complaining about a shark attacking a helicopter.
Area 51 isn’t attached to the main game, you need to fast-travel there and it’s not any bigger than the regions, so feels underwhelming considering this was a 12 quid DLC – even Bethesda release bigger DLC than that. It’s all the same environment too, so you can’t have the fun of the main game’s cruising from the open ocean to the canals of Port Clovis for lunch. The final third does return to the main coast, where we chase about looking for evidence before a boss battle so annoying and over-balanced, I rage quit.
It is still a huge amount of fun being a shark again, but this doesn’t add anything – certainly not for its price tag. I mean I wasn’t expecting a serious experience, we went from being a baby shark to an atomically-powered sea monster starring on a reality show, and it makes some sense explaining how the shark evolved so strangely, but it feels lazy and without Trip's happy-go-lucky commentary and peppy snides it feels flat.
If the shark had debunked Trip’s claims as it went, slyly undermining the Flat Earthers, joking about the false-flag morons and dismissing the micro-chip controlling Bill Gates truthers it could have been awesome. Instead, the combination of Trip’s annoying theories, the confined area, lack of new objectives or options, and lack of parody, the whole thing grinds to a halt. Plus, in the original, the shark was minding its own business give or take; here, it seems to have a motive – this is closer to Jaws Unleashed…
The biggest disappointment is developers Tripwire decided we’d want the DLC whether we asked for it or not. On launch day, the main game suddenly needed a 15gb ‘update’ – that’s almost as bad as finding a U2 album in your playlist. Gumming up my harddrive with content I might not purchase is a piss-take. I know some publishers add them into the main game from the outset, but an Update is pushy. But that aside, Truth Quest feels beneath Maneater, which managed to make a Shark RPG set within a reality show seem normal – and fun. Maneater was my top recommendation for 2020, this is 2021’s best avoided.