Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

How Shank saved my E3

3:00 PM on 06.25.2010 // Conrad Zimmerman

It was the end of E3. My body ached and my mind had gone numb from three days of sensory overload. All I could think about was being home, sleeping in my own bed. All I had left was one final appointment and it would all be over. By this point, the last thing I wanted to see was another videogame. But that's the job.

I steeled myself and met with the fine folks at Klei Entertainment. I wasn't prepared. I'd heard the title, Shank, in passing and it was vaguely on my radar as being a downloadable beat-em-up. I had no idea that, in spite of my physical and mental state, I was about to have an experience that would completely change my perspective on the last week of my life.

I met with Klei CEO Jamie Cheng and Creative Director Jeff Agala and had a seat. I explained that I wasn't familiar with their game and a controller was thrust into my hand. "The easiest way to explain is to just play it," said Jamie. He went over the controls; Three attacks on the face buttons, two grapples on the right shoulder, block and grenades on the left. Easy.

A brief animated cutscene and I was suddenly playing. At least, that was my intent. First, I spent a good bit of time unable to do anything but make the character run and jump around the screen because I was so stunned by the animation quality. Shank looks good no matter what he's doing. Every action he takes flows seamlessly together and gives him a physicality that's very enticing.


The stage in which I had landed was a atop moving train and it wasn't long before I was beset by enemies intent on making sure I didn't make it to the lead car. I leapt into the air to close distance, firing pistols on the way down. As soon as Shank hit the ground I had him moving into a slash with his namesake weapons followed by a chainsaw thrust forward ending in a kick which sent my last victim flying.

Suddenly, there was nobody left. It had all transpired in seconds yet it was so perfectly clear what had happened that I could remember every frame of the action. I felt empowered, invincible even, and that's what's so compelling about Shank

It's all down to the simplicity of the game's controls, which allow for even inexperienced players to easily chain together combos. One button each for shank, chainsaw and gun attacks, each with high, medium and low profile actions determined by your position on the left thumbstick. By experimenting with the combinations, there's a huge range of possible ways to decimate all in Shank's path, and all are satisfying.

Grapples are especially joyous. There are two ways Shank can reach out and hold someone, either by getting in close for a grab or lunging across the screen at a more distant enemy and pinning them to the ground. While grappling with a foe, Shank can perform attacks on his victim with any of his weapons (or, in the case of his guns, anyone around him as well). Much to my delight, this includes grenades which finds Shank shoving one of the incendiary delights into the mouth of the enemy before booting him across the screen to detonate.

About halfway through the level lay a Shotgun, which I gleefully picked up. As one would hope, the gun is devastating at close range. While it might not kill everyone in a group, it will push back a crowd of enemies to give Shank a little breathing room. 

The level design in the demo was simple and straightforward, but it's also a little hard to imagine how creative you can really get when mapping out a moving train stage. There were a few very simple sections of swinging, which feels more automated than anything else as Shank pretty much just honed in on the next place he had to grab coming out of a jump.


I wouldn't mind seeing more complex levels but I'll be perfectly satisfied if the full game keeps to the same level of simplicity. Shank is very nimble and easy to move about, even going so far as to provide considerable control over him while airborne. Platforming sections won't be a problem with this game, but the combat gameplay is compelling enough that they don't seem necessary.

Eventually the demo jumped ahead in the level to a boss encounter. Now at the front of the train, Shank was faced with an enemy vehicle that seemed a combination tank and troop carrier. Foes began leaping off the vehicle and on to the train as a series of missiles fired into the air to rain death from the skies. And, to add insult to injury, there are still guys standing on the tank firing guns backwards.

Fueled by bloodlust, I sent Shank in to do what he does best: Make me feel good about myself. The fight with the tank was far from simple, as there was plenty to dodge all the time. And, since Shank can't get into close combat with the tank as it rides in front of the train, combat options for taking down the boss were reduced to pistols and grenades. It was a long battle but, at its conclusion, Shank stood victorious and I sat in awe.

It was over. I was literally struck dumb by what I had just played. After struggling to find words, Jamie and I spoke a bit about the game's development. He told me about how the first three months were spent on little except getting Shank's running animations to look just right. I also learned that the game is completed and has already been sent off for certification in anticipation of its late summer release, first on PS3 followed by Xbox 360 at a later date.

As we spoke, my eyes kept going back to the screen. I thought about how I had felt as I walked in the door, exhausted, fifteen minutes prior. It's easy to fall into the trap of becoming jaded towards an event like E3, where it can feel like a constant dick-measuring contest and everybody claims they have the next big thing you need. But part of the power of games is that it only takes one brilliant experience to wash all of that away and remind us of why we got into this in the first place.

For me, this year, that game was Shank. As I sat in that room, still processing what had just happened, I grasped in my mind for the perfect question to ask the developers. But there was only one question I had left to ask.

"Can I play it again?"

Conrad Zimmerman, Moustache
 Follow Blog + disclosure ConradZimmerman Tips
An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast () and str... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Flegma avatarFlegma
Memo to self: spend your time cleaning before wasting ten or so hours on a cblog you'll end up just scrapping because you're incompetent and incapable of writing on the subject.
Is there an occupation out there for people who want to give up and not worry about shit for a while until they can recompose themselves before going back into society?
Parismio avatarParismio
That test was pretty raw. Some decisions cut deep, some I didnt care for at all. But im satisified with the end result.
Lawman avatarLawman
Torchman avatarTorchman
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
People are having serious anthropological discussions about video games and here I am reminding people that they have one more day to get a dumb card I painted:
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
I just finished this thing here: I'm mostly happy with my results, altough it lacks some stuff like Skyward Sword or Sonic & Knuckles [img][/img]
techsupport avatartechsupport
While I am glad I only paid $15 for it, I bought J-STARS VS+ for one specific reason: to drink some beer and kick ass as Yusuke and Hiei. And in that regard, it delivers. Beer not included.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
We can be so weird sometimes. You can easily move on from some of the stuff you might want to remember forever, but then sometimes you just can't let go of trivial things. What's up with that?
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I'm in the mood for some feel-good music. Hit me with your best feel-good VGM, people! [youtube][/youtube]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
My "Thankful it's over" post is done. Editing it tonight, posting tomorrow. Will there be more last-minute entries? Will Pixie be merciful to Twilight Princess? Will Zetta add words to his entry? Why is bear driving? Who run Bartertown? Stay Tuned!
Parismio avatarParismio
Whelp since i got my ass kicked at snowboarding ive been issued a muscle relaxer today and slept the entire day. Time went by so fast. Is- is this what the phantom cigar is like?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
What the hell is a Shantae?
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Ok you Monday morning motherfuckers, 3 favourite fictional universes you'd like to exist in (The initial iteration of the universe had to be in videogame form) Go.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Just ran into my first 'suicide mole rat' in Fallout 4. I'm beginning to think this may not be a 100% accurate, meticulously researched recreation of life after the apocalypse.
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Well I just played Undertale. It's a really unique game, but the difficulty in the beginning is a tad intense. Got clobbered once they started throwing three monsters at me at a time and lost a lot of progress... where's Toriel when I need her?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
What should I do guys?
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
[img][/img] The Freedom Planet Indie Box, for those that were interested. And it looks like a "wild cat" is there too!
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Just 1200 words left to go on my essays. Do I deserve a day off to play Just Cause 3 once I'm done? Yes.
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Elite: Dangerous has some glaring issues, and can occasionally feel kinda bare bones, but I'll be damned if it isn't one of my favorite games in recent memory. Ships are fun to fly, trading is rewarding, and the sound design is absolutely brilliant.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -