Interview – Jamie Cheng of Klei Entertainment (Shank)

August 25th is the battle of the brawlers on XBLA with both Shank and Scott Pilgrim out on the same day. We talk with Jamie Cheng, founder of Klei Entertainment, about Shank which will be available on the PlayStation Network later today!

Betrayed by the only family he ever knew and left for dead, it’s up to Shank to seek revenge for the death of his beloved at the hands of the underworld’s deadliest assassins. Utilizing his knowledge of gang warfare and weaponry Shank must battle his way through the criminal underground in order to seek revenge against the people for bringing his world crashing down around him.

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Bryan:  How much time will the average gamer spend completing Shank?
Jamie: I’ve seen players spend easily 6 or 7 hours getting through the single player and co-op campaigns on the first playthrough. Honestly though, we weren’t thinking about play-time as much as play-quality when creating Shank.

Bryan: Will Shank be a one-time experience or is this an IP you wish to continue working with?
Jamie: If the chance permits, I’d love to keep working with the Shank IP! We created it as a single experience, and we certainly didn’t hold back to deal it out later, but I have a lot of love for Shank and his poor enemies.

Bryan: In terms of replay value, what will the game have to offer?
Jamie: The replay value comes in the form of Hard Mode as well as costume unlocks — it may not keep the average player occupied for hundreds of hours, but we see people come back to it for the same reason replay Uncharted — it’s just a great experience.

Bryan: Are there plans in motion for DLC? Can you tell us what might be coming?
Jamie: We currently don’t have any plans for DLC.

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Bryan: What past games have been an inspiration in creating Shank?
Jamie: Obviously, Double Dragon was a big influence. Others are Prince of Persia for the smooth animation and movement, Metal Slug for its brutal violence, and Soul Caliber for the ease of combat. I like to say that the original Aladdin on the SNES was an influence, but only in as much as a I remembered it to be. I replayed it recently, and it was… less than satisfying.

Bryan:  Based on video clips thus far, the game looks relatively easy. Does it hold much of a challenge?
Jamie: We created two difficulties in the game — Normal and Hard Mode — specifically because there’s definitely a joy in beating a game that presents significant challenge.

I personally love Hard Mode because it actually gets players to play the game in a different manner — simply running and gunning doesn’t cut it. You’ve got to understand the enemies, understand your own weapons and moveset, and react quickly to keep enemies from overwhelming you.

Bryan: What’s your favorite thing about Shank?
Jamie: I love that the game makes people smile and laugh. It’s just so fun and ridiculous to shank, chainsaw, shoot, grab, and shove a grenade down peoples’ mouths that they laugh out loud, then want to do it again. That in turn makes me smile.

Bryan:  Is the local co-op campaign a completely different experience from the the single player campaign?
Jamie: Although it uses the same mechanics, each level is built to be played cooperatively. Splitting the coop into a separate campaign made it so we could build bosses, for example, that force the players to work together. It also allowed us to tell a different story, and we used that opportunity to give a bit more insight into each of the characters in the main storyline. So in a nutshell, yes, it’s a significant difference.

Thanks to Jamie for answering our questions. You can read more about Klei Entertainment on their homepage at and more about Shank at

Shank is released on August 24th on PSN and August 25th on XBLA.


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