Klei Entertainment, managing to secure the spot right by the expo Hall doors at PAX East, were able to display their intriguing new game, Shank, to one and all. They are a relatively new developer with a small team led by Jamie Cheng. They may be small but they have a great deal of potential based on the Shank demo. Set in a very Wild West/Spanish themed environment (think Zorro) the first thing I noticed about the game is the incredible style of art.
Cheng was standing with me while I played and he could tell I was admiring the look of the game and characters. He somewhat modestly told me that he is responsible for the principle art and I had to compliment him on the look and feel of the visuals. He was very proud and gracious and I asked how long it took to generate a level art wise. The answer was about a week per level, give or take, depending on the level's length. The demo we played lasted about 10 minutes, to put that in perspective it took a week to generate the art for those 10 minutes.
The game focuses on a very angry character named Toro, I wasn’t able to glean much story from the game as I was focused on playing instead of reading. However, there will be a story and it will be shown through comic book-style cutscenes. As I said, Toro is an angry guy, but that was more my guess based off of the fact that he comes armed with two knives, two guns, a chainsaw, and grenades. He is a literal walking slaughterhouse.
Shank is an action platformer and I was astounded by how easy a game it is to pick up and play. Each weapon is mapped to a button and you can switch between attacks on the fly, start by stabbing an opponent and then rip them with a chainsaw, finally, as they bounce in the air, grenade them or fire with guns. The combat is quick and very satisfying. There is also a shank move that lets you pounce on a bad guy and then once he is down finish him off with your weapon of choice. The action is as brutal as it is bloody. Toro cuts his way through enemies brutally killing the bosses in a 2D God of War style.
As impressive as his moves repertoire is Cheng assured me that there will be even more moves and actions as you play through the game. On top of that, the platforming elements are also very well handled. Toro can jump, wall climb (using his knives), slide, leap from swing points, and quick kill surprised enemies.
Sound is handled very well with effects, grunts, slices, and the roar of the chainsaw represented in a very effective manner. The music too is a standout element. It is a Spanish guitar inspired score that fits so perfectly with the setting and action you will be drawn right into the world.
Shank has recently been picked up by EA for distribution on XBLA, PSN, and PC and will be released in the next couple of months. Cheng did not have a firm date yet but he did say that it is soon and it will be a full game experience that will not disappoint. Based on what I saw and played I don’t doubt him at all.