Shank Preview: Blood, Guts, and Story

Editor's note: Check out Meghan's interesting look at Klei Entertainment's upcoming Shank. It features a rich, attractive art style — here's hoping that it's got the gameplay gravitas to match. It is my lifelong dream to see someone finally revitalize the beat-'em-up. -James

Shank is a brutal, side-scrolling beat-'em-up with a main character and storyline that move in powerful and violent ways. It's also a revenge saga. The PAX East demo was artsy and enjoyable — if a little over the top.

Jeff Agala, Klei Entertainment’s Creative Director of Shank, cites Final Fight, Double Dragon, and other classic brawlers as influences on gameplay. Its art design draws inspiration from Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and Frank Miller’s Sin City. With regard to the story, Agala had this to say about focusing on the creation of a strong narrative:


“We’re working on having stories intermixing with the gameplay like you saw in the cut scenes while the game was going [...] We’re doing a lot of hinting with split screens and picture in picture, kind of like [the television series] 24. We’re focusing a lot on the story and this guy’s motivation.”

The beginning and end of the demo feature elements that tie the cut scenes and story to the game’s action very well. Things happening in the cinematics usually affect the gameplay portions. For example, the demo uses a small picture in picture to show the earth-shaking footsteps of an approaching boss battle, and it definitely makes that particular "oh shit!" moment a little more intimidating. The cel-shaded graphics lend themselves to a lot of very cool stylistic opportunities, too.

Shank will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network ,and PC this summer — and I’d be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little bit excited about it.

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