The indie gaming scene has been rapidly picking up pace over the past few years as smaller titles can find success with smaller price points. Great White Destroyer is a $6 budget title for the PC that has a unique art style and atmosphere to it, and is original if anything. Players assume the role of a shark that has been tasked by the god of all sharks to destroy things for the sake of entertainment. Gods get bored from time to time, after all. The end result is a fast-paced, quirky action game where players rip through people, boats, and a number of aquatic lifeforms.Basic control involves pointing the mouse in the direction you want your shark to travel in and holding left click for slow speed, right click for medium speed, and both for max speed. I recommend switching to a control pad if you can, as my experience was much more fluid this way – though that may just be my familiarity with console games talking. In either case, you don’t necessarily want to be jamming it at max speed at all times, since that can result in inaccuracy, and since your shark generally can only chew through things so fast, you can get in more hits in one swoop going at a slower speed.
The purpose of your chomping is to fill a joy meter for Cartoothus the Shark God – hitting the end of the meter will complete the stage, though there are a few special stages where your goal is to destroy certain foes and the like. Eating multiple objects in quick succession nets combos, and as a level goes on, special timed achievements will be tasked (eat five squid). Special bonuses are awarded for various tasks like popping into the air (to eat birds, if you please) or chasing animals into jellyfish tentacles and eating their stunned bodies. Build up a rage meter and you can go on a rampage of rapid destruction, swimming and eating faster than usual – very useful for destroying manmade objects like submarines and boats. A couple of levels later on require a bit more thinking to get the job done, but as a whole this game is appropriately single-minded: eat and destroy. It does get a bit thin after a while but you don’t have to play through the whole game in one go – you can pick up on whatever level you left off, but your score will be reset, so if you want to place in the online leaderboards you’ll want to play through the whole game in one go.
The graphics and cutscenes (which feature some oddball humor) seem to be evoking a lot of cartoony PC games from the 90’s – it generally achieves this but something about the visuals feels a bit off at moments. At least it’s consistent, but not always for the best, with super jaggy edges – the blood and the way enemies that shred to pieces is satisfying, however. The sound design is a bit disappointing, with sound effects that quickly grate due to low quality and repetition. Given how long it takes for the game to load, largely due to sounds, this is kind of strange. The jibber-jabbering style of dialogue (think Banjo-Kazooie) combined with the bizarre writing is admittedly amusing overall, and helps establish the comical tone of the game despite the violence.
There’s enough creature variety to keep things different from one level to the next, and new types get thrown into practically every level. Many creatures require more than one bite to break apart, which can sometimes be tricky if they also move fast or if you keep swimming past them, meaning you’ll want to adjust your swimming speed as your approach creatures to better suit the situation. The concept as a game is original and enjoyable enough but can get bland by the end when you’ve been doing pretty much the same basic motion for the whole game. It would’ve been nice to see more levels use the concept but spice things up – maybe one level be a race where you have to try to eat monsters and make your way through obstacles but doing so as quickly as possible so as to still win, or perhaps levels with a bit more exploration to them a la Ecco the Dolphin. For only $6 the game takes a single idea and goes enough places with it to be worth its admission, I suppose. It’s not amazing or specifically intriguing as a whole, but Great White Destroyer is quirky and original and could be worth the price of admission for a run little romp in the ocean full of destruction and blood. I suggest giving the demo a try and see how you feel about it.