Hack and slash

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Hack and slash or hack and slay (H&S or HnS; also written hyphenated as hack-and-slash, or with a contracted conjunction as in hack 'n' slay) refers to a type of gameplay that emphasizes combat with melee based weapons (such as swords or blades) and a few projectile based weapons as well (such as guns). It is a subgenre of the Beat 'em up genre which focuses on melee combat usually with fists.

The term "hack and slash" was originally used to describe a play style in tabletop role-playing games, carrying over from there to MUDs, MMORPGs, and role-playing video games. In arcade- and console-style action video games, the term has a different usage, specifically implying a focus on real-time combat with hand-to-hand weapons as opposed to guns or fists.

Types of games that employ hack and slash[edit]

Role-playing games[edit]

The term "hack and slash" has its roots in "pen and paper" RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, denoting campaigns of violence with no other plot elements or significant goal. The term itself dates at least as far back as 1980, as shown in a Dragon article by Jean Wells and Kim Mohan which includes the following statement: "There is great potential for more than hacking and slashing in D&D or AD&D; there is the possibility of intrigue, mystery and romance involving both sexes, to the benefit of all characters in a campaign."[1]

Role-playing video games[edit]

Hack and slash made the transition from the tabletop to role-playing video games, usually starting in D&D-like worlds.[2] This form of gameplay influenced a wide range of action role-playing games, including games such as Lineage,[3] Xanadu[4] and Diablo.[5][6]

Action video games[edit]

Distinct from hack and slash role-playing games, the term "hack and slash" also began being used to refer to weapon-based action games and a subgenre of beat 'em ups, such as the Golden Axe series.[7][8] Journalists covering the video game industry often use the term "hack and slash" to refer to a distinct genre of 3D third-person, weapon-based, melee action games, including titles such as Sengoku BASARA,[9] Devil May Cry, Dynasty Warriors, Ninja Gaiden, God of War, Genji, No More Heroes, Bayonetta, Darksiders and Dante's Inferno.[10][11] Action games that utilize hack-and-slash combat may be controlled mostly by frequently pressing a button or two, or with gestures from motion controllers, like the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, or the PlayStation Move controllers, which can simulate the swing of a sword or other melee weapon.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wells, Jean; Mohan, Kim (July 1980). "Women want equality - and why not?". Dragon #39. TSR Hobbies, Inc. V (1): 16.
  2. ^ David Myers. "The attack of the backstories (and why they won't win)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-01.
  3. ^ Huhh, Jun Sok; Park, Sang Woo. "Game Design, Trading Markets, and Playing Practices" (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2008-07-23.
  4. ^ "Hack and Slash: What Makes a Good Action RPG?". 1UP.com. May 18, 2010. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  5. ^ "Games Like Diablo". Games Finder. 2013-01-06. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  6. ^ Cord Kruse (2008-09-05). "Diablo III: Timeline, Expanded RPG Elements, iTunes D3 Music". Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  7. ^ Greg Kasavin (2006-11-30). "Golden Axe Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  8. ^ Patrick Shaw (2008-05-16). "Golden Axe: Beast Rider". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  9. ^ "The Story behind Development of "Sengoku BASARA"". Capcom. December 24, 2015.
  10. ^ Is Dante's Inferno Divine or a Comedy of Errors?, UGO Networks, February 9, 2010
  11. ^ Heavenly Sword Review, VideoGamer.com, 04/09/2007