Shank Hands-On

It's not often that we get to shank, chainsaw, and shoot people so gracefully and stylishly.

The fact that Shank doesn't have an announced platform or a release date didn't stop Klei Entertainment from showing it off at the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo. Shank is a 2D side-scrolling action game that stands out with its graphic novel art style, bloody animations and it's incredibly fun to play. We met with CEO Jamie Cheng, who told us a bit about the game, and we got a chance to sit down and slash through this short demo.

Who's Making This Game: Klei Entertainment is developing and self-publishing this game. The key members of the team include creative director Jeffrey Agala, who has also directed the cartoon series Atomic Betty, and CEO Jamie Cheng, previously an AI programmer for Relic Entertainment.

What The Game Looks Like: The level we were shown was set in a dusty slum, where criminals and gangsters run amok on rooftops, accompanied by the forlorn sound of a lone guitar in the background. Jamie told us that they were inspired by older games like Double Dragon and wanted a nice blend of cinematography and solid gameplay. The art style is very much like a graphic novel, with earthy tones and sharp lines. As we came to a wooden platform, with the golden sun setting in the background, the lighting changed so that all the characters became dark silhouettes. It was easy to distinguish our hero Shank, however, with his red bandana and arsenal of deadly weapons.

What There Is To Do: Shank is a stylish 2D button masher, and our goal was to disembowel anyone who got in our way. We were armed with shanks, pistols, grenades, and, of course, a chainsaw.

How The Game Is Played: On the Xbox 360 controller, the A button is for jumping, the X button is for shanking, the Y button is for the chainsaw, and the B button brings out your dual pistols so you can gun down enemies John Woo-style. There is some light platforming, but it's designed to be easy, so if you happen to miss the jump, you can run up walls to get to where you need to go. A decorated post with a skull on top indicates that you can use it to swing to another platform. You can also grapple people with the right trigger and toss grenades in their mouths by pressing the right bumper. The fun part was being able to seamlessly string any of our moves together and watch how our hero Shank took down foes with cinematic grace.

The action was quick, but it wasn't overwhelming. Enemies of all shapes and sizes came at us, and all acted a bit differently from one another, so you're not just mindlessly hacking through drones. Some of the larger opponents are a bit tough, so if you try to grapple them, they'll pick you up and toss you around. But you can toss and slam people around too, before knifing them in the back.

What They Say: Shank offers a fresh spin on classic 2D side-scrolling action and cranks it up a few notches.

What We Say: We were very impressed with the short demo of Shank because of how smooth the controls felt and how stylish everything looked. It's really easy to chain cool-looking combos together, such as shanking your opponent and then bringing a chainsaw down on his face. The boss at the end was named Toro. He was a large brute whom we dodged as though he were a bull until he ran into a wall and we were able to jump onto his back and chainsaw his neck. The grenade in the mouth must be Shank's signature move, because when we finally took Toro down, a cutscene showed our hero as he stuffed a grenade into the giant's mouth and deftly jumped away, but not before firing two bullets to set off the explosive.

No release date or platform has been announced, but we can kind of guess where this title will be heading. We'll be sure to keep a close eye on this one and update you with more information as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

31 comments
jer_1
jer_1

Very awesome looking, hope to add this to my collection...

kraychik
kraychik

i'm sold.... i've been missing 2D beat 'em ups since the 90s. it'll be all nostalgic to play this kinda game. i'm buying it. still, games like double dragon had more surface area.. you could move up and down. this game doesn't look like it's support two player. ah well, still looks tight.

sartnd
sartnd

Why you must show his face? Just show the game...

haohmaru11
haohmaru11

this game looks awesome , good job

lowkey254
lowkey254

2d devil may cry action. awesome.

rpgnutt
rpgnutt

ill try the demo first

Binzen
Binzen

Looks pretty impressive. I didn't know how much I actually missed side-scrolling beat-em-ups 'til I saw this.

chrissypoop
chrissypoop

I'm kinda of sick of the flash looking 2d games (castle crashers, shank, flash based games on the internet) this looks okay I probably won't get it but it looks fun.

sideshow999
sideshow999

not a single close-up on that tv.... disappointing.

usmannaseer
usmannaseer

the gameplay looks amazing.....this game looks like alot of fun...so what if its in 2D...i'll still buy this title when it comes out....i hope its soon though :)

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

very very cool looking game. im happy that so many new XBLA/PSN games are having such great art styles, graphics, etc, combined with an array of new intertwined with old gameplay. i.e. braid, shadow complex, now this. this looks very promising as well. I really hope this trend continues. Shadow complex was 15 bucks and lasted a pretty long time, and has good replay value, and to me it was a much better deal than half the full retail games i have for 360. This looks like it might be like that too lol.

prehuang
prehuang

It would recall lots of memories if could run by 2Players

tat2pap
tat2pap

vnt played this type of game for years, looking forward to it.

phoenix1122
phoenix1122

Shank Huh, Does This Game Take Place In A Jail?

franci17
franci17

looks great, stylish 2d action game

arkasen
arkasen

Well who wants to play a 2D after games like GTA 4 and Mafia II,Assasins Creed II to release.

RetroGamer742
RetroGamer742

Sucksss!!!! Who wants to play a crapy 2D gmae (not me)!!

Hakud0ushi
Hakud0ushi

Looks really good. I'm looking forward to it.

gomagomes
gomagomes

the boss reminds me of Ben, from full throttle

NightAngeI
NightAngeI

Blood and cartoons, a disgustingly entertaining combination...

mindgamers
mindgamers

Yay!... its been long time i not play 2D Beat'em'up, since 2D change to 3D era, now i want to play this one...

happyfatman021
happyfatman021

This looks really good. The graphics look awesome, and I haven't played any of the 2D games that have been released in the past several years, so I really want to play this (at least try it out).