Klei Entertainment’s Shank is an ultra-violent beat ‘em up about a man driven to vengeance after being betrayed by his own gang. It’s a tale that often feels one-part spaghetti Western and two-parts Tarantino/Rodriguez flick, and that is no coincidence considering they were core inspirations for the game’s style. The similarities don’t end there though, as the soundtrack sounds like it was written and performed by Robert Rodriguez himself. Like his work, it is constantly building by way of guitars of Spanish influence, and it sets a rhythm that is always motivating you to gut just one more bad(der) guy.
Each track of the album speaks for a segment of Shank’s story. Acoustic guitars lay the groundwork for the return of the titular character after his misfortune and suspense is somewhat erratically heightened by the sparse wails of an electric guitar. The pace of the drums subsequently quickens as new songs follow and emotional impact elevates dramatically with each confrontation. Whether playing the game or enjoying the music by itself, one can’t help but conceive notions of combating your own foes by any means necessary, and while this may not be the healthiest mentality it certainly is an invigorating one.
The pacing of the whole is seamless and if you sit alone listening to just this soundtrack, it seems to defy the necessity of an accompanying game or graphics. There is a rich tapestry of instruments and minute flourishes here that brings you alongside the protagonist even without a controller in your hands, and perhaps that’s what makes this soundtrack stand so well on its own. Even without the elements for which it was created, the music of Shank can tell a terribly intriguing story.
The best part comes last though; all 13 tracks are available entirely free at ShankGame.com thanks to a deal offered by the developers and the 3,000 Facebook fans who fulfilled their end of it. Each song can be downloaded individually or as part of a compilation file for ease, or even streamed straight off the site itself if you just want a sample. While you’re there I highly suggest you check out some of the fantastic artwork and game trailers as they do a great job of setting the mood even when you are not playing.
Literally my only complaint is that on their own, some of the songs can seem fairly similar, however in the context of the game it is not noticeable in the slightest. This is not only one of the best looking, most fun, and ludicrously violent games available today, it’s also accompanied by an excellent soundtrack that any fan of ambient, Western, or rock music should enjoy.
The Shank soundtrack is available now on the Playstation Network ($14.99) and Xbox Live Arcade (1200 points), and will allegedly be available “very soon” for the PC via Steam. – Score: 4/5