Knife To A Gunfight: Shank

By Alec Meer on September 7th, 2009 at 11:32 am.

It was PAX last week. And no, we weren’t out there, because by an unfortunate coincidence the RPS personal helicopter was in the shop having its napalm missiles upgraded, hence we had no way to reach Seattle. What we could do, at least, is Observe From Afar, like sinister gaming perverts. We’re good at the watching-but-not-doing thing. For instance, here’s a fairly undocumented wee game that appeared there. It’s called Shank, it’s a side-scrolling third person action thinger, and it’s quite incredibly violent.

Its creators Klei Entertainment, who you may know of thanks to indie break-out hit Eets, are so taken with their own game that they’re even having an action figure of the titular hard-nut made. I don’t think I could honestly say he seems a memorable enough character to warrant an action figure, but I can sympathise with the pride of getting such a thing made.

More importantly, here’s in-game footage of Shank. It looks incredibly shallow and stupid, but clearly that’s the point. It’s the man-stabbing equivalent of Alien/Zombie Shooter in a way. It’s also very Alien Hominid, but hey, it’s been a while. What it’s really got going for it is the cinematic presentation – a crapton of distinct combos/attacks and some artful silhouetting.


More details at the official site/blog.

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47 Comments »

  1. Choca says:

    Ok I want this real bad.

  2. Kowalski says:

    Monkey Dust: The Game.

  3. CMaster says:

    @Kowalski – art style, maybe. I see a lack of paedophiles, cottaging and murder of complete innocents to be that close to Monkey Dust.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    The words “Brock Samson” appeared in my head half-way through. Possibly as the word Brock is on the screen half the time.

  5. Dominic White says:

    @Gap Gen

    Amen. We really need an official Brock Samson simulator. It could possibly be the best game ever. Knife to a gunfight indeed.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Also, I’d just like to point out that wanton 2D violence doesn’t mean it’s shallow. Anyone who has recently played The Dishwasher (a similar looking game, right down to the gunplay + chainsaws + stabbity goodness) on the 360 can attest to its difficulty. Just wantonly mashing buttons WILL get you flattened, especially at higher difficulties. There’s a whole lot to learn within a simple control system, if the game allows for it.

    Sometimes, the simplest-looking games can be frightfully complex. I mean, Street Fighter is just two guys punching and kicking each other, right?

  7. Alec Meer says:

    And shallow doesn’t necessarily mean uncomplicated.

  8. Dominic White says:

    Depth would imply that there’s more to the game than it initially appears. If it looks like a mindless button-masher, but ends up having a learning curve that requires weeks/months of solid play to master, that means it sure as hell isn’t shallow.

  9. Alec Meer says:

    It is shallow because it is solely about messily killing hundreds of men. It is complicated because it involves key combos to do this.

  10. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I miss Hateful Chris.

  11. Dominic White says:

    Your definition of depth seems a bie weird, Alec. If a game is simple enough for anyone to get in and immediately start mashing dudes, but allows for players to get much, much better over time, that would imply that the fighting system has significant depth to it.

    Now, if you NEED to learn lengthy combos and overly complex controls just to get into the game, that is pointless complexity.

    Anyone can jump in and play Street Fighter, but upper levels of play – despite having relatively few moves compared to others fighting games – are intensely complex. Likewise with The Dishwasher as an example. On the easiest difficulty setting, you just have to run up to the bad guys and mash the attack button, but on the hardest levels, you need to learn how each enemy works, which openings are safe, what moves can counter what, etc etc.

    Now, there are definitely a lot of shallow games out there. The Alien Shooter series for a start, which are little more than cathartic ‘hold fire to win’ games. I’m just saying that there may well be a lot more to this game than ‘guys stabs dudes, wins’ suggests.

  12. Alec Meer says:

    /Me slams my forehead repeatedly into desk, weeping softly about the futility of it all.

  13. neems says:

    It looks pretty cool, but would it maybe be better if the enemy fought back?

  14. neems says:

    I think that Alec is suggesting the game is shallow because the entire premise is paper thin – kill bad guys. Repeatedly. It is possible that the combat mechanic may have some depth to it, but I don’t think that changes the fact that the game as a whole couldn’t drown a two year old.

  15. Dan Lawrence says:

    But what if you could talk to the monsters?

  16. neems says:

    My kingdom for an edit button – is that Death’s Head the Bounty Hunter?

  17. Alec Meer says:

    Light! Light at last in the dread darkness!

  18. Ffrank says:

    I thought it was called Skank, through this entire page, the entire blog, and the entire 2 videos. Until it said SHANK big bad and bold in my face. Skank was a cool name, I’ll miss it.

  19. ChaosSmurf says:

    Ban this sick filth.

  20. PHeMoX says:

    Sick and wicked game. This is what 2D side scrolling games should be all about. (Why didn’t that Garry’s Mod guy finish their Facewound game???? It’s a guaranteed hit.)

  21. PHeMoX says:

    @ChaosSmurf: Good thing you’re not serious about that. :)

    I totally agree on your Dragon Age opinion.

  22. DrGonzo says:

    This game is clearly deep Alec! I looked at it and at first thought it was the follow up to Planescape!

  23. Waste_Manager says:

    that looks very slick and very cool.

  24. Wacky says:

    So awesome.The cutscene art reminds me of Penny Arcade for some reason.And the gameplay looks like a mix of high flying Price of Persia with some DMC 4 crazy-gun-sword carnage.
    Awesome

  25. Dominic White says:

    My defintion of depth (of gameplay – plot is something else entirely) is a game which allows the player to learn great amounts over time, even if the essentials are easy to pick up. The best games still let players come up with new tricks and techniques years after release, even if the initial concept is simplistic.

    Sure as hell, this game has a simple, dumb concept – ‘Cartoon man stabs dudes’ is about as simple as you can get. Just saying that as a game, it may have a lot more depth to it than it appears. Or it may just be utterly mindless. We just don’t know yet.

    Let’s just say that Tribes is shallow because it’s ‘Jetpack mans shoot each other with lasers’.

  26. Alec Meer says:

    That is also true. Now do move on.

  27. Bananaphone says:

    The words “Brock Samson” appeared in my head half-way through. Possibly as the word Brock is on the screen half the time.

    There’s a definite Venture Bros and Adult Swim influence to this.

    (a Venture Bros game could be awesome)

  28. ChaosSmurf says:

    That mention of Penny Arcade makes me want to pick up that series. GOD DAMMIT DON’T YOU PEOPLE REALISE HOW POOR I AM.

    Seriously though, this does look like fun. The combos have a Devil May Cry feeling to them, but this kind of art style (I guess it kinda started with TF2?) is something I really wanna see more of. Is it easier to develop in cartoonish 2.5D/3D than in photo-realistic CryEngine/UnrealEngine/Tech 28?

  29. Tei says:

    It looks like “Prince of Persia 1″

  30. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Seems very shallow, but potentially complicated to master. This is a good thing.

  31. Jacques says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that was reminded of Brock fuckin’ Samson.

    This game needs more mullet.

  32. DarkNoghri says:

    Mmm, pretty. I could definitely see myself getting this.

    Did I really just watch a mature video without entering my age? More please.

  33. DarkNoghri says:

    Oh, and while we’re at it, who’s Brock Sampson?

  34. Dominic White says:

    @DarkNoghri: Blonde mulleted murder-machine from Venture Bros, probably the best cartoon series in years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzmoImm0kio

    You owe it to yourself to watch all three seasons as soon as possible. Fantastic stuff.

  35. Jacques says:

    I think this video demonstatres Brock at his best, also, the cartoon’s music is done by Jim Thirlwell aka Foetus/Manorexia/Wiseblood/Dj Otefsu/and more who has some great stuff.

  36. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    I can see myself buying this.

    @DarkNoghri: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl-JlDfz_dQ&feature=related

    that vid pretty much sums it up.

  37. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Did we really just post 3 brock videos? Oh well, can never get enough of that guy anyway.

  38. Jacques says:

    If only most of the vid’s on youtube didn’t have some crap song thrown on top.

  39. Grey_Ghost says:

    Were any of the enemies in that video actually fighting back?

  40. Owen says:

    Didn’t seem THAT violent really.

    I jest. It’s a fucking bloodbath with fitted jacuzzi, shower, sauna and of course, bidet.

  41. Professor says:

    Looks more like a flash game on newgrounds than an actual game, to be honest. Maybe my standards are too high.

  42. Wooly says:

    ChaosSmurf says:
    “Ban this sick filth.”

    Are you by any chance… the entire Australian government!?

  43. PC Monster says:

    The perfect way to relieve stress after a hard day at work – FAB.

  44. cowthief skank says:

    Looks really shallow… I kid. I have not even watched the video, I prefer to let others make my mind up for me.

  45. G-Prime says:

    Looks kinda like Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, only prettier and less repetitive.

    And for everyone who’s saying that this is like playing as Brock: Brock doesn’t use guns. Guns are for little girls.

  46. Thiefsie says:

    Did any of the enemies even hit the guy? at all? They all do the Assassins Creed thing and just line up waiting to be killed idle.

    Hmmmph, otherwise it looks fantastic, maybe for 5 minutes til it gets old? – A good improvement on the Metal Slug kind of Genre though?

  47. Muzman says:

    I imagine this what Robert Rodriguez sees every time he closes his eyes.