They say revenge is a dish best served cold. If that’s true, then Shank is an ice cold entrée. Ok, enough of the stupid comparisons. Just like the main protagonist of the game, let’s get right down to business.
You play as Shank, an ex-gang member beaten half to death while his girlfriend is murdered by his old gang leaders. Now, Shank is back, and hell-bent on revenge. The story plays out much like the revenge tale of Kill Bill. He slowly makes his way through waves of criminals to get to the four people responsible for his girlfriend’s death.
The game play is that of a 2D side-scrolling hack and slash/shooter. Shank has a quick light attack with, wouldn’t you guess it, a shank. He also has a strong attack using a chainsaw, and a ranged attack using guns. He can also lob grenades, grab enemies, and pounce on them to do an almost instant kill. During your play through, you will gain better weapons for heavy attacks and guns. Each has their own unique stats and style of play. I’m personally a fan of the chain fists you get later on in the game.
With all the weapons you obtain, you can string together attacks to create combos. Begin slashing with your shank, then move over to the heavy attacks with the chainsaw, the follow up with a juggle air combo with the Uzi. It flows flawlessly and looks awesome while you’re performing them.
There is platforming in the game. It feels rather fluid and moves rather quickly. You can scale walls with ease and jump from platform to platform no problem. There are times where you have to time your jumps perfectly. When this happens, the camera zooms into Shank a little and the game play goes into slow motion. It’s a really nice feature that makes the game fell epic.
The game features an absolutely beautiful art-style. It’s a comic looking, hand drawn style with a hint of cell shading. Everything animates wonderfully and the colors and presentation are amazing. The art-style and presentation are really what made this game for me.
The single player story progresses nicely and the boss fights really mix up the game play. Each boss has their own unique attacks and weaknesses. There’s always a trick to beating a boss. One of the nice things about the game is if you do die during a boss fight, the game will give you a hit as to how to beat the boss.
The checkpoint system is hit or miss for me. I feel like in some areas they were handled well, but there are some in the later levels that felt a little too spread out. The difficulty to the combat can become rather challenging at times. There are a ton of enemies coming at you at one time, and sometimes you can feel overwhelmed even after you’ve thrown a grenade into the fray. Even with the difficulty the way it is, you’ll still have a fun time stringing together combos on your enemies
The game does offer multiplayer with two players. The only problem is, is only local multiplayer, and when playing the PC version of the game, you don’t really have room for two players, but it is there if you want to play through it. It’s actually a separate story that takes place before the main single player story.
The game is controller enabled. In fact, the game even says “For the best Shank experience, we suggest using a gamepad.” It is nice, they even have it set up for the Xbox 360 controller so you don’t have to map any buttons.
There are lots to unlock in the game as well. They offer concept art, new costumes, and other visual modifications. You unlock them by completing certain milestones while you play through the game.
I really enjoyed Shank. It was a somewhat short experience of around four hours, but the entire time I was having fun. The combat and the platforming all flow so smoothly throughout the game. The story is very well done with some decent voice acting, and the art-style is something I would love to see in more games. I would totally watch a television show or animated movie featuring the Shank art-style and universe. The difficulty can become brutal at times, but it never really becomes frustrating. For $15, you will have a blast with the combo-based combat and stylized presentation.
Review copy provided by publisher.