Mindless Review: Shank
If my time playing Shank has taught me anything it’s you don’t mess with a guy who’s named after a prison knife. Shank is a downloadable title for PSN and XBLA that has you playing as the titular character on his quest for revenge, after your former boss betrays you and leaves you for dead.
The gameplay in Shank plays a lot like a 2D version of Devil May Cry, mixed with a few platforming sections in between. You move Shank with the control stick, which is an odd choice for a 2D game. It feels a bit odd at first but once you get used to it, it’s fine.
You have your standard set of light and heavy attacks as well as the ability to fire guns at any time. The combat is very fun and fluid, it’s great to take out a bunch of enemies with a chainsaw, launch one up in the air and keep them afloat with a barrage of bullets.
The bosses can be pretty entertaining from the usual fights you find yourself in, but really all beating them comes down to is dodging them until the right opportunity arrives for you to deal major damage.
At the beginning of the game you start of with some knives, a chainsaw and duel pistols but you get more weapons as you progress through the game. Each weapon actually has a different feel to them so you’ll benefit form using different weapons for different situations.
The look for Shank is very stylized, it looks like your playing a very violent HD Saturday morning cartoon in the vein of Samurai Jack. The characters are all clean and crisp with a lot of detail, and the animations are very fluid.
The sound for Shank takes on a bit of a Mexican-Western feel to it and goes well with the game setting style and tone. But the voice acting isn’t as good, as a lot of the time I found myself rolling my eyes at the delivery of some of the dialogue.
The story of Shank isn’t really all that good or creative either. It’s your typical revenge story with no real twists, but the gameplay is solid enough that you’ll want to see it through till the end. The main story for Shank is also very short, clocking in only at about 3 or 4 hours.
I personally don’t have a problem with the game’s length because it’s an enjoyable experience. But I know the length of a game can be a factor for some people.
Also included in Shank is a separate co-op story mode that serves as a prequel to the game’s main story. It’s local co-op only thought so if you want to play this you’ll have to get a friend to play it with.
While gameplay is more the same as the single player mode, you’ll really need to work together to take down the bosses. It’s a very satisfying feeling when you work together with a friend to take down a boss twice your size.
It’s weird that they didn’t make an option to play the full campaign with co-op though since a lot of the levels in co-op look like the levels found in the main campaign.
There are a few problems with Shank however the biggest one is how you go about picking up health. All you do is push the light attack button and Shank picks up nearby health. This is fine when there aren’t any enemies around but in the heat of battle I found my self picking up health when I didn’t want to. This can prove frustrating when your fighting a wave of enemies, than you accidently pick up health leaving you with no way of recovering when you really need it.
Also the load times at the start of the game and in between levels can be pretty long at times, which really hurts the pacing and flow of gameplay.
None of these complaints are really game breakers, they’re just some things that should have been tweaked or changed to make the game better. Considering the game was made by a very small team it’s easy to overlook a few small problems.
Overall Shank is a really fun experience although a short one. And though it does have some problems none of them really bring the game down at all. So if your looking for a good action game in the vain of Devil May Cry, but with a 2D twist give Shank a shot.