While Shank may still be referred to in some circles as an indie darling, the game packs a whole lot of production value. What may have started as a homemade knife, has been proven to be one gracefully elegant weapon. The title’s story is penned by Marianne Krawczyk, author of God of War. The game itself is presented in 9 layers of HD parallax taking art direction cues from Jeff Agala, creative director on the project and creator of Cartoon Network Original Series Atomic Betty. The game is being published by EA Partners, who is responsible for EA’s dealings with People Can Fly (Bulletstorm), Valve (Orange Box), Harmonix (Rock Band Franchise), and more. To call all of that indie, just doesn’t cut it.
That isn’t to say Shank has lost its indie roots. Klei CEO Jamie Cheng and Jeff Agala set out to make an adrenaline filled action fest that would also push the boundaries on how digitally distributed games are made. The game mixes and blends genres, as it feels part spaghetti western, part grind house film. Jamie Cheng described the plot to us as a “pulp fiction revenge story through and through.” The main character feels like a total badass combination of Stallone from Rambo and Brock Sampson from Venture Brothers. All in all, it’s a thrilling concoction of just epic ingredients you can only expect to see with the complete freedom of an indie studio.
Konami has had a hard time catering to fans of the Castlevania series in the last few generations. It is a series deeply rooted in 2D gameplay, and adding a dimension some would say takes away the spirit of what made the earlier games great. Konami has decided to appease both 2D and 3D supporters by releasing two Castlevania games, one of which brings the style of Symphony of the Night and the recent DS games back to the home consoles. In reality, it looks like a widescreen SNES or Genesis game in the best way possible. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair not only retains the level structure and gameplay from those games, but also the characters.
Monday Night Combat is a true fusion of genres. The title is a third person shooter tower defense hybrid very much in line with DoTA. This should be no surprise considering the lineage of the Uber team: many of the developers worked on the DoTA game Demigod. The hybrid concept alone creates a very addicting blend, but the developers kept building on the idea. They created a humorous, quirky design that draws clear parallels with Team Fortress 2. They developed six highly varied character classes, each with their own unique style, moves and weaponry, as well as a create-a-class option. They then pushed the limits for an Xbox Live Arcade game with in-depth persistent career through single player, co-op and online multiplayer modes. In the end, it becomes increasingly hard to classify this game, as it breaks many typical molds; however the game is easy to describe: it is flat out awesome.