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Stab, run, shoot. I just described Shank in three words. Shank revolves solely around these three things and these three things alone. How does a game that is four hours long and only features three main core components deserve your fifteen dollars you may ask. Read on to find out, dear reader.
In Shank, you play as a man, named Shank (quite clever if I must say so myself) on a mission to get revenge on a bunch of people for doing God knows what to your beloved wifey. It’s a simple, forgettable story that throughout the game only takes a backseat to the ridiculous and hyper-violent action. The only positive thing I can say about the story is it allows them to show off their creative juices with the cutscenes as they all looked fairly great and extremely similar to anime’s such as Afro Samurai.
The stabbing. Your light attack in Shank is used by pressing X, which directs your character to then start viciously stabbing every little person in his way. I mention this as it opens up one of the two worst flaws in Shank. The items you pick up throughout the game (health, grenades, weapons, etc.) are picked up by also pressing X. This can lead to unnecessarily picking up health bottles when you were clearly saving them for later and dying because of it. I ran into this situation multiple times, and mainly during the boss fights.
Most of which are perfectly fine. I found the first four or five bosses to be enjoyable yet still had a slight toughness to them. But once I hit the final three bosses, Shank took the route many games take and instead of making the game skillfully hard, where you can actually use skill to beat it, they just made the enemy constantly attack you, leaving no time to block, no navigational area, and the slight amount of health bottles I would have would be ruined by the fact I’d accidentally drink them when I had full health. This would result in me having to retry the same boss fight around twenty times (on three separate occasions).
My three words may be a slight lie, there’s a bit of jumping here and there. Shank features a very accessible and easy to use platforming system that not only feels great, but looks really beautiful. Obviously platforming was in no way a main focus in the development of Shank, it was the stabbing, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty and finesse hidden within the underrated platforming system.
Shank’s focal point, the combat, is really good. Apart from boss battles, being in combat with other characters is a blast and the smooth, slick feeling you get when you combine using your shotgun, Uzi, and chainsaw, never gets old. On top of that, there’s a huge variety in weapons that progressively unlock throughout the game and only get better and better. While I personally think switching weapons with the D-Pad is slightly awkward, it’s still a blast to do.
Speaking of awkward, the dodge move in Shank is outright horrible and I never felt like I was correctly using it throughout the entire game. You have to hold LT while using the left stick dodge. It sounds quite simple but in actuality, it doesn’t work well at all and can be just another thing that causes you to die multiple times during those unnecessarily bad boss battles.
Shank delivers exactly what you’d want from it, a mindless, violence-heavy, slightly fun-heavy, beat ‘em up with a poor story and a few other poor mechanics spread throughout the game. Sprinkle on the four hour playtime (and the fact that there isn’t much replay value) and you’ve got yourself Shank. If this piece of content is worth fifteen dollars is for you to decide.