Back in 2010, Klei software released a 2D hack and slash adventure game known as Shank. Despite having a few issues, Shank proved to be one of the best downloadable titles of that year. Now Klei is back with the awaited sequel, Shank 2. Does Shank 2 improve where Shank one needed?
As a child I had fond memories of titles like Super Mario. These games never had any real story to them other then find and rescue the princess from the evil doer. Though one thing about those games is that they always had me coming back. No matter how simple the stories were, the gameplay always felt addicting and fun. That’s exactly where Shank 2 stands.
The story starts with Shank returning to his village when he is suddenly attacked by a group of militia who are being commanded by a man named Magnus. Magnus wants to capture one of Shank’s loved ones, because she just happens to be the perfect donor for his heart transplant. There’s not much of a story here and it follows the classic and somewhat generic and cliche “save the princess” model that gamers have become so accustomed to; however Shank 2 is not about providing a compelling story, but rather fun and intuitive gameplay.
Shank 2 mimics its predecessor almost entirely from a gameplay standpoint. The biggest notable change is how much more fluid the movements and combat feels in general. It’s apparent that Klei wanted to make slight adjustments to make Shank 2 what it could have been originally. Virtually everything is just so much more fluid then it previously was and Klei this time around has created what could most accurately be described as a rhythm to the combat system.
Each character has their own unique weapon sets that can be customized to fit your needs. Where one character uses the Shank another may be using the Scythe. All these weapons are unlocked as you progress and enemies will also constantly drop them for you to use. Although a Baseball bat and a Tire Iron may seem like they would do the same thing, Shank 2 gives each weapon its own unique animation and set of attacks. So with a Baseball bat you’ll be able to charge up an attack, where as with the Tire Iron you’ll be able to deal massive damage with strong strikes. One of the biggest features that I liked about the gameplay is the counter system. It’s absolutely gruesome with the amount of things that can be done. Right before an enemy can attack you, they’ll display a explanation mark over their head. This indicates that a counter attack may be done. Counter attacks vary depending on the enemy, but always end in some sort of painful and bloody death. I found myself using counters a lot just to see these gruesome deaths.
The gameplay is truly the strongest point of Shank 2, and although it has its issues when there are swarms of enemies on the screen, Shank 2 does an excellent job when it comes to keeping players engaged and entertained. If there was a game out there that could prove that story isn’t everything, then Shank 2 is your game.
The art direction is just as interesting as the gameplay. It closely resembles a cartoon, but has the violence of an R rated movie. The animations all move fluidly and quickly without any delays. As for the environment the game will take you through various locations showing it’s gritty look, yet still manage to have enough color in the game. It’s the perfect balance between light and dark.
As for replay value, the game comes packed with lots of unlocks, such as character skins, loads of in-game collectibles , and a Survival Mode. In Survival Mode you’ll be able to team up with another player (or play alone) and take on hordes of enemies, while defending the teams supply crates. As you progress you are rewarded with currency that can be used to buy new weapons and set up new traps. It’s a great mode if your playing co-op with friends, but the fun only lasts for a bit.
With its over the top violence and satisfying gameplay, Shank 2 is definitely a title worth checking out even if it does so little new over the original title. Just the gameplay alone should keep you wanting more.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.