Hungry for a slice of the console market, Ubisoft's Hungry Shark World has made the transition over from mobile devices, with all of its microtransactions gutted in the process. The title made an initial splash launching on Apple and Android devices back in 2016 and offered players hours of bloody carnage as they command some of the ocean's most feared creatures.
After you select your shark, you continue along a linear path, gobbling up everything before you and washing the ocean red with blood. Your goal simply is to survive and rack up the highest score possible as your life bar (or hunger) is drained with every second you are not feasting on prey. Also posing a threat are knife-wielding scuba divers, jellyfish, and environmental objects such as mines and toxic barrels leaking green smoke. Instead of microtransactions standing in the way of new sharks and items this time they are unlocked via XP.
XP is mainly earned by completing objectives that are specific to each unlockable shark and level. Some of these require you to survive for a certain amount of time and others (usually specific to a certain shark) require you to complete a task like eating 100 tropical fish with a particular accessory equipped. Earned XP is also used to level up your shark which bolsters attributes such as their bite, boost, speed, and health, allowing them to survive longer. In the ocean, there are also collectables like floating letters (not dissimilar to those in Donkey Kong Country) and treasure chests that provide you with additional coins. Collecting enough gold and collectables will trigger a Gold Rush mode where your earnings are multiplied and your prey can be gobbled up effortlessly.
Controlling your shark is done with the left analogue stick (on Switch) and we found it a little slippery to manoeuver through the waters. Using ZR allows you to boost temporarily and is indicated by a small red bar down beneath your shark's health. This makes for the perfect getaway tool when slipping through hazards or for desperately snatching that next piece of prey. Holding the X button allows you to shred larger foes with your jaws and the Switch makes great use of its vibrate function here as its almost like you can feel them trying to struggle and slip away. What we did find odd that there was no touchscreen functionality here on the Switch (like its mobile release), which would have offered fans of the prior titles a more familiar way to play.
Coins that you collect across your fending frenzy can be spent on accessories such as a hula skirt, a fake mustache, and a pair of breastplates. It's through these items that the title's sense of humour really shined and we loved mixing and matching these items to receive the best stat boosts. There are also 17 different sharks that you can unlock, ranging from the cute and chubby looking Porbeagle to some of the foulest beasts that the ocean has laid eyes on. There are even pets that you can unlock to accompany you on your journey, such as an octopus, a dolphin, and other smaller sharks. It feels like there's a lot here to toy around with and we often went back to experiment with our loadout.
Hungry Shark World is almost an exact port of its mobile counterpart - so don't be expecting a more polished look from the advanced hardware. Despite being two years old and developed for mobiles its visuals do still stand up pretty well. We loved all the subtle little details hidden in the background such as rusty tanks and sunken vessels covered in algae. The sharks and all other aquatic wildlife all benefit for animations that make them feel wacky and alive and we loved how bright and vibrant the plants and creatures on the ocean floor appeared. From a technical standpoint, Hungry Shark World does have a few hiccups though as it suffers from lengthy loading screens and we experience glitches like not having any sharks available to select.
The main issue that we found with Hungry Shark World is that its repetitive gameplay starts to feel old pretty fast. Even though you're given new objectives within each level - everything essentially boils down to eating everything you see and trying to survive as long as possible. The accessories, sharks, and novelty of being able to slaughter divers and airborne birds doesn't last for long and we feel that's especially apparent on consoles as on mobile it's more likely to be played in short bursts. We wish that a few more mechanics were introduced later on to keep things fresh but we understand that it was crafted this way to be as simple and accessible as possible for casual players.
Ubisoft's Hungry Shark World doesn't deliver enough for players to sink their teeth into after the initial novelty starts wearing thin. Its mini-objectives and score-based gameplay may be perfect for short bursts on the go but there's just far too much repetition here to keep players hooked for the long-term. Devouring helpless swimmers and kitting your sharks out with novelty mustaches is undeniably fun and if you go in with the expectation of playing a more fleshed out mobile game on console then you may not be disappointed, but if you're seeking added depth then may want to steer clear of this one.
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