I was sold on Shank after trying out the demo earlier this summer. Along with the favorable demo and low price promotional price of $4.89 I decided to pick it up. After investing three hours in a span of six weeks, I’m glad I didn’t pay the $15 asking price.
The demo didn’t lie. It was actually indicative of the final product. The fault was mine for assuming I was going to get more than what the demo offered.
Shank could have been retooled as Kill Bill the game. The protagonist, Shank, witnessed the death of his beloved by the hands of his former clan of killers and he wants his revenge. I had no problems with the premise, but I did feel that they stretched it out for far too long for the first hour.
Even though Shank was a flat 2D beat ’em up, I also liken it to Final Fight where the fights were simple and repetitive. Unlike with Final Fight, there was no nostalgic motivation to keep me playing for long periods of time.
But how can I describe a game where the combat involves combos, air juggles, guns and chainsaws as swords as “simple and repetitive”? I can because the same dudes come rushing in and never require me to deviate from my trusty shotgun and chains setup. I tried spicing up the combat with different weapon configurations, but all of them felt crippling to me.
Most fights involved pattern recognition and executing timed button presses. The very last boss being the most troublesome out of the lot. I thought I was going to be provided a bigger challenge through swarms of enemies akin to character action games like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, but that wasn’t the case at all. Copious amounts of grenades and the trust shotgun dealt with the numbers with ease.
The trickiest parts of Shank, as it turns out, was the platforming. I fell to my death plenty of times thanks to some very iffy controls. I had no problems with them in combat, but while jumping across rooftops and from steel pipe to steel pipe, I found myself having to slow down and wait for the animations to finish before moving onto the next action. Very similar to another game I just wrapped up.
What caught my eye and probably every body else’s is the look of game. The stylized backgrounds and striking red blood splatter from every stab and swing of bladed weapons makes me wonder why there isn’t more of a demand for this high definition 2D games.
In the end, I felt Shank was a shallow experience. Pretty to look at and flashy at times, but it doesn’t take long to grow bored of its offerings. I realize I can do a lot worse than Shank for $5, but I could also go and replay Final Fight. At least I could get a nostalgic kick out of that.
For more information on Shank, visit the official site.