Gameplay in Manta combines the thrill of a fast-action flight simulator, the suspense and cunning of a submarine simulation, and the tactics of an RTS. The overall objective is to destroy the enemy base which is defended not only by a fleet, but by installations of sentry cannons, shield generators and submarine torpedo bases. To do this, the player must deploy energy rigs to rifts on the ocean floor to power their Gateship and summon a Velnai’i fleet to aid them in battle. In addition, the player may use their engineers to build new forward bases for battlefield repairs, or to take control of destroyed enemy installations.
The Manta itself is a fighter craft capable of “flight” underwater. When in the air, it uses a targeting system similar to modern fighter jets – using radar lock to target its missiles, and straight aiming for its twin plasma cannons. Battle in the air involves not only dogfights with enemy interceptors, but assaults on massive enemy capital ships.
Underwater, however, combat is more of a cat-and-mouse game. The player must use a combination of active and passive sonar to target their enemies. Active sonar gives a better view of the surroundings, but will also reveal the player’s position to enemy submarines. Additionally, the player may use the cover of the oceans to sneak up on enemies above, but beware enemy torpedo bases, mines and attack subs!