Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shanked at PAX, and I liked it

I was able to play the gorgeous upcoming Shank, by Klei Entertainment. The animation of the game was very fluid, and the gameplay matched that fluidity. The game's controls felt comfortably mapped as shown in the above photo and responded well. I could begin a combo with the shank and go into shooting or the chainsaw. I could also start a combo with the other buttons. I climbed walls with ease and swung across rooftops with well placed pendulums in the background. The demo's climax was a boss battle that involved (spoiler-free) strategy to defeat him and not random button mashing. The grapple button (semi-spoiler) initiated a gory death sequence to the boss.

I spoke briefly with the art director Jeff Agala on the PAX floor. He said the inspiration for the game came from among Final Fight and Double Dragon. The graphics were partially an ode to Sin City, and the game also has a Tarantino film feeling. Agala wanted the game to have a feel of "cartoon playing" and considered the game's genre to be a cinematic brawler with platforming.

Shank was one of the hottest looking and playing games at PAX. In a world of multimillion dollar gaming budgets, I am so thankful for digitally distributed games that respectfully move away from realism and explore the more colorful side of imagination.

EA Partners is working on releasing the game for XBLA, PSN, and the PC. The release date and price point have not been set.

Some of Agala's artwork are here: http://jeffagala.blogspot.com/

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