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Shank is a side-scrolling fighting game starring the titular character, an ex-mob hitman. Shank wants to avenge the death of his girlfriend, who was murdered right before his eyes by a gang. He has to run and jump through levels while killing hordes of enemies and bosses in the end of each. The mechanics are based on three weapon types; a pair of knives, melee weapons such as machetes and chainsaws, and ranged weapons such as shotguns and double pistol. Each weapon type is bound to a different input button. He often has to fight off many enemy at once as the different attacks can be linked into combos. Defeated enemies also drop weapons that can be picked up. Items in the environment can be used for acrobatic maneuvers.

For multiplayer there is a separate campaign that is played locally with another human player who takes the role of Shank's partner Falcone. The multiplayer campaign levels are built around cooperative gameplay to defeat the enemies and bosses. The story of the multiplayer campaign acts as a prequel to the main game storyline.

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Credits (Windows version)

161 People (105 developers, 56 thanks) · View all

Additional Design
Original Music
Sound Engineer
Production Manager
Production Coordinator
Public Relations
  • Flash Fire Communications LLC
  • High Road Communications
Special Thanks
[ full credits ]



Average score: 76% (based on 18 ratings)


Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 28 ratings with 1 reviews)

An ultra-violent, grindhouse style cartoon!

The Good
Shank is a game that I recently discovered while scrolling through the PS3 demos in the Playstation Store. I found the game immediately interesting due to its art style and side scrolling, Final Fight like gameplay. After playing the demo, I quickly bought the full game for a small fee and overall, I had a very good time brawling through the game.

First and foremost, Shank's gameplay formula is very similar to arcade classics like Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Double Dragon. For those who aren't familiar with these titles (shame on you), they were 2D side scrolling arcade style beat 'em ups wherein you simply fought your way through various enemies using punches, kicks and whatever weapons you could find. Eventually you would face a boss who all required different strategies to defeat. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the game.

In Shank's particular case, you go through each level killing every enemy in sight using a variety of weapons and eventually going face-to-face with the level's boss. There is a nice variety of locations, enemies and weapons in Shank. You will go through city streets, night clubs, villas, a moving train and even a bloody abattoir. Enemies will attempt to shoot, grapple, punch or cut you. Some are big and slow, others are fast and agile, so prepare to change your game plan depending on what you're up against. Regarding weapons, you have a pair of knives as your basic attacks, and later on you get stuff like a katana, a chainsaw, brass knuckles and a shotgun. Every weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses. The shotgun, for example, does great damage up close but none at all from a distance while the Uzi is fast and has great range but deals little damage.

In Shank you play as the titular character on a quest for revenge against the people who murdered his wife. And that is pretty much it. Yeah, no big plot twists, overly long character exposition or a deep, well fleshed out storyline. The entire game consists of Shank working his way up the food chain killing everyone who was involved with the murder all the way to the big boss himself. Guns, guts, blood, credits.

Now it's time to talk about the game's greatest charm, and that is in its art style and overall presentation. Shank has a colorful, comic book style that fits perfectly with the violent, yet lighthearted atmosphere of the game. The game feels pretty much like a low budget action movie similar to films like Desperado and Machete. So expect little story and lots of over the top, adrenaline pumping action. Style over substance. Exploitation and spectacle over story and realism.

Shank himself is a buff, stoic looking beefcake who you do not want to fuck with. All the other characters are pretty much as clichéd as Shank himself. You have the wealthy crime lord who controls all the strings and of course he has an army of henchmen who are nothing but cannon fodder for Shank. You also have a few senior enforces of said villain. There is the big, strong guy who solves everything by force (pretty much like Shank himself), the female sexy assassin and the sleazy hypocrite who covers up his crimes using the Word of the Lord.

Music and audio are pretty good. The game's music has a very Spaghetti Western style to it. Acoustic guitars, drums and whistles are the main ingredients of Shank's soundtrack. Personally, I find the music to be very fitting and enjoyable to listen to even without playing the game itself. The weapons sound good and the voice actors do a nice job at bringing their characters to live. It is nothing too memorable, but the game's audio department does its job and does it well.

And as is mandatory in such brawlers like this, there is a local two player mode. So feel free to invite a friend over to your house and have fun together. The co op mode has its own proper storyline taking place before the single player campaign.

The Bad
The game is very short, on medium difficulty the game takes as little as 5 hours to complete with an additional forty minutes worth of cutscenes. While the game is fun enough to play through a couple more times, I would have liked a few more levels and maybe a couple more bosses because they are very fun.

Shank also has its fair share of cheap deaths. This certainly becomes irritating on the hardest difficulty because in that case death means starting the entire level all over again. I certainly had a few moments when I dominated the level only to fall to my death because a bullet hit me while jumping over a bottomless pit.

While Shank is a fun character, he is not very memorable. He is just a run of the mill action hero and he does not have the personality of action heroes like Duke Nukem or John Rambo. He does say a few cool lines, such as telling the priest Angelo to "forgive him because he will sin." And by sinning, he means cutting Angelo up!

The boss battles, while fun and epic, were also too easy for my taste. In fact, the game already tells you what strategy to use against the boss right after you died the first time fighting him. I really wished that the developers gave the gamers a chance to find out for themselves how to effectively fight the boss rather than getting all the tips right away.

The Bottom Line
Despite its short length and occasional cheap deaths, I had a lot of fun playing Shank. It is a nice throwback to the old, forgotten genre of the one against everyone else beat 'em up gameplay that was so popular in the late 80s and early 90s. I would suggest trying the demo first to see if you like this kind of game and if you do, do not hesitate to buy this. Shank you very much for reading this review!

PlayStation 3 · by Stijn Daneels (79) · 2014

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Klaster_1.

Linux added by Sciere. Macintosh added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Titan10.

Game added November 21st, 2010. Last modified July 14th, 2023.