"When we started work on Shank, we had never built a brawler or fighting game before," Cheng told me. "We tried to provide the best scenario possible, but when we looked at the game as a whole, we realized that a lot of the scenarios tended to repeat themselves."
As a result, Cheng said, the team decided to take a more holistic approach to the design of Shank 2. Enemies have been designed in such a way that they can't be defeated using the same tactics, and the mechanics have been tweaked. Blocking, meanwhile, has been removed entirely, which makes the combat flow even better and helps emphasize dodge rolls and the new counters.
It's the counters that I like best. Especially in the early going, the red exclamation marks that denote a counter opportunity are easy to spot, and the resulting execution is extremely satisfying. And there are quite a few more temporary weapons to pick up, further adding to Shank 2's emphasis on variety.
"When we were playing, we thought, 'Why just pick from skins?'" Cheng told me. "We wanted to encourage different gameplay styles. That way, if you're having trouble surviving, you can switch things up and try out a character with more power, or a character who can revive more quickly."
The emphasis on differing gameplay styles is taken another step in the actual combat. The ability to knock back a foe and stun them is obviously a great asset, but it's not a great way to make money. Combos are what bring out the gold, which can in turn be used to purchase items such as turrets, health, and wild boars. Boars take up an entire platform while knocking enemies to their doom, something that Corina and her scythe also excelled at.
It's obvious that Klei Entertainment has put a great deal of thought into how they can improve an already solid game, and the proof is in the large and varied multiplayer roster as well as the reimagined mechanics. All this for a downloadable game, which I guess proves how far downloadable games have come in the past few years. We're once again in an era where a tiny development team like Klei Entertainment can work magic, just by rethinking its approach.