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Review: Shank

Posted by on August 30th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Tags: , , ,

Developer: Klei
Publisher: EA
Release Date: August 24th 2010
Availability:
Price: $14.99 | £9.99 | €12.99 | HK$ 117.00
Players: 1-2 (Local only)
Demo: Yes (2012 MB)
Rating: Mature

What I Liked:

  • Deep combat system staves off repetition

  • Animation and sound are fantastic
  • Co-op mode is a fun addition, and runs parallel to main story

What I Disliked:

  • It’s over far too soon

  • Story is there, but mainly in the background.
  • Art style sometimes gets in the way of gameplay

Shank is brutal, dark, and entirely humorless in its execution. This tale of a lone man out for revenge is certainly not for the faint of heart, but Shank stands on its own 2 feet from a gameplay standing.

At its heart, Shank is a brawler, but with a combo system far deeper than you’d expect. The core gameplay feels surprisingly like a two dimensional version of popular games like Bayonetta and Ninja Gaiden, with button mashing abandoned in favor of rhythmic patterns and a graceful system of dodging and blocking. These systems combine to make shank an altogether more fluid game than you’d expect it to be, with the fantastic visuals only serving to highlight the unique animations that accompany each weapon’s many combos.

On the subject of visuals, Shank is one of the most visually arresting games I’ve seen in quite some time. The animations are beautifully fluid, and the sounds that accompany each shot and slice are brilliantly realized. Screenshots of Shank are unable to do justice to its fantastic Tarantino-esque style, as the game looks absolutely stunning in motion, with visual effects adding to a superb overall package, especially the vignetting at the edges of the screen, which adds a film-like quality to the animation, along with the dramatic slowing down of the action whenever Shank pounces on an enemy. If I have one complaint about the art style, it’s that it sometimes gets in the way of the actual game, with the player unable to break out of some animations, leading to situations where I lost over half my health due to enemies being able to juggle me into oblivion.

Shank is a short game, with the main campaign taking me only 3 hours and 24 minutes to complete (the game keeps score). There is a full co-op campaign however, with a story that acts as a prequel to the main quest. However, I wasn’t able to complete the co-op campaign, as there is no online play, with local only being a particular sticking point, as nobody in my household was able to get the hang of my game, though the cat came particularly close to completing a combo. As it stands, the co-op is a fun distraction from the main quest, though the heightened difficulty sometimes frustrates.

Though it may be short, Shank is nonetheless sweet, with fantastic combat, a great art style, and only minor frustrations harming the experience. It’s a fantastically paced game, with each area bringing with it new ways to destroy your foes, and bringing you closer to exacting revenge. Shank is one of the best downloadable titles I’ve played this year.

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  • Siggy

    Great review, Ben. I’m disappointed that there’s no online multiplayer mode but the rest of the game sounds awesome. Will give the demo a try before I decide on a purchase.

  • Rockgamer

    I really loved the demo (I played it at least three times), but I still think I’ll wait for a price drop before I pick it up. The game is mad fun, but it’s hard to justify at $15 when I still have so many other PSN games I can play while waiting for said price drop.