Hungry Shark Evolution follows in the template of previous releases in the Hungry Shark series. As before, the player controls a shark with a big appetite and has to eat to avoid starvation. The game is viewed from the side and is played primarily with tilt controls although by touching the screen the shark temporarily gets a boost in speed. By exploring the ocean the player will come across plenty of animals that it can eat: fish, crabs, and even other sharks. There are also humans to be found, some diving while others swim across the surface. There are dangers too and some fishes, like the jellyfish, can hurt the player. There are mines, toxic barrels and armed divers that can do damage to the shark.
As the shark eats it grows and will reach new size levels. Multiple shark are available and once one is fully grown the next one will be unlocked. The sharks can be upgraded in three different categories: bite, size and boost that makes it more powerful. Upgrades cost coins and coins are collected by playing the game. Some creatures give coins when eaten and it's also gained by completing missions. There are also gems that can be used to purchase new items.