Shank, the first game in the series of its name, is defined by its comic-book visual style and graphic violence in the vein of Tarantino and Rodriguez movies. In the single-player mode, the game follows a story of a revenge. The player assumes the control of Shank, who used to be a mafia hitman before they killed his only love, Eva. He goes on a vendetta after her murderers, hunting them down and killing in brutal ways. There's also a cooperative mode that features a different plot, something of a prequel to the main storyline. In co-op, Shank and the other playable character, Falcone, have to save a strip model from a gang of bikers and fix a rigged wrestling match.
The game is played as a fast-paced 2D side-scroller. Shank uses three types of weapons: a firearm, a melee weapon, such as a chainsaw, and two daggers. All three should be used interchangeably to create a variety of combo movements, which are essential to master before you reach the late stages of the game. Enemy attacks can be dodged or blocked. Shank can also perform a number of acrobatic tricks and other movements, such as throwing enemies or jumping on them, which makes for a varied gameplay.