Shank Review

key review info
application features
  • Violent graphic novel art style
  • (3 more, see all...)

Shank is 2D beat-em-up aimed at a mature audience. It was produced by Klei Entertainment and initially was only available on consoles, but eventually it made its way onto the PC, and now, with the help of Humble Indie Bundle, on Linux platforms.

There aren't many games like Shank available today. Once upon a time, titles like Final Fight and others before it used a simple recipe: fight your way through screen after screen, in 2D, defeating multiple enemies at once, and encountering a major boss from time to time.

This game is different because it benefits from almost 30 years of gaming experience. People who played old games somehow managed to rekindle the feeling and atmosphere of old tiles, but with a fresh perspective, in Shank.


Shank is provided in several formats: .deb for 32-bit and 64-bit, a single .rpm file for both architechtures, and a .bin file, so that anyone with a Linux distribution can install it.

Keep in mind that Shank is a large game, in has over 2 GB in size, so it will take some time to download and install the game.


The plot is similar to a Tarantino movie. Shank is essentially an evil man, but the organization in which he’s involved turns against him and kills his girlfriend. "They left him for dead" is also a good way to perfectly describe the plot.

One thing stands out and this is probably an area Klei Entertainment worked a lot on. The story should be ridiculous and with no shred of seriousness. Somehow, the story gets players involved in the game, and in the end, they start to care for the main protagonists and really hate the villains.

Shank also features a story cooperative mode where the main protagonist is joined by a vicious friend, named Falcone. It was difficult, if not impossible, for the developers to implement, with logic, two characters, in the main storyline, so they created another part of the story, just for the two of them. I actually considered it to be a more engaging adventure than the main quest.


The main character is called Shank for a good reason. He owns and wields knife with great accuracy. Most of the combos involve the use of the knife and it’s always fun.

As I said at the begging of the article, the game is oriented to the adult population and it’s reflected in the gameplay and mostly because it's really gruesome. Blood spurts everywhere and every new move is more deadly than the previous one.

Besides the magnificent knife, Shank and his partner Falcone can also wield pistols, shotguns, machetes, chains, and so on, but the fun part comes with the combos. If you're fast enough you can get amazing combinations using a knife, shotgun and chainsaw, all on the same enemy.

The levels are straightforward and don't require too much thought, but they do require some skill. The platforming in Shank is demanding and sometimes is harder than the actual fighting. The main character can grapple on various things, run on walls and do somersaults. If timed right, the moves look like a contemporary ballet, with great blending between animations.

Although it's an attractive game, the hardware requirements are decent and Shank should be able to run flawlessly on any middle-end machines.

The ending begs for other titles in the series and so it happens that Klei Entertainment is already hard at work at the second part, but there is no guarantee that it will reach the Linux platform at the same time with all the others.

The Bad

Shank is an amazing game and it's hard to find any kind of flaws in it. I can only think of three main problems I had and they are related to the gameplay.

Firstly, enemies managed to score hits when my character was involved in a rather long combo. I actually began to anticipate when I was going to get hit, even before I finished my moves, and there was nothing I could have done about it.

Secondly, I died a lot more from falling in various holes and chasms than from the actual combat, although I can't really hold it against them for making the platforming difficult.

Thirdly, there are no clear animations and directions to aim the weapons. It should be really simple, with eight directions: up, down, left, right, and combinations with diagonals. Shank can't shoot up and but can shoot diagonally.

Some enemies are positioned in such a way that it's almost impossible to hit them properly with the weapons, and players have to make use of the grenades. Luckily, there are only a couple of these situations in the entire game, so it's not all that important.

The Good

Everything about Shank screams of quality, from animations to the story itself. It's hard not to like the game, even if you're squeamish about the blood an the gore. Some people, like myself, might even enjoy it for these very reasons. Get a friend, play the co-op campaign, and Shank becomes a title to remember.


Shank is the type of game that makes people say "they don't make it like this anymore", and for the most part it's true. It really has no competitors and it reigns supreme in the 2D beat-up market. And don't forget to hold on to your pants, because Shank 2 is right around the corner.
user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 4

final rating 5
Editor's review
NEXT REVIEW: Gish for Linux

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