Hack & Slash games

Hack-and-slash genre is a bit difficult to define as it often contains elements from RPGs, action and adventure genres. Hand-to-hand combat, third person perspective, hordes of enemies and lots of slicing and dicing are some of the key features found in these games.

Most games that belong in the genre have a solid story mode with a pre-created protagonist. While completing the story, main character slays hundreds if not thousands of enemies, most of which are one-hit wonders, but occasionally tougher bosses appear. Since bashing countless enemies can get boring at times, games often incorporate puzzles or various modes, such as player versus player combat.

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The term "hack and slash" was coined in an old-school "pen and paper" RPG game — Dungeons & Dragons. Back in those days hacking and slashing referred to an intense action-packed segment of the game, where players could relieve some stress by obliterating enemy legions.

Hack-and-slash games have three cornerstones that define the genre — weapon-based close combat, pre-set button system and intense pacing:

  • Weapon-based close combat — main character is wielding some sort of primary melee weapon, hence hack and slash. The weapon is often interchangeable and that means that most of the games have a long list of weapons ranging from whips to hammers. In cases where a weapon is unique to the character, it often can be upgradeable in some way.
  • Pre-set button system — simple game mechanic with usually 4 to 6 pre-set buttons or keys. A button or a key can only perform one action like quick attack or defense. Since a button is pre-set, no matter what weapon a player picks, it’ll only perform a function it’s supposed to do. Most common weapon strikes in HaS games are executed in three forms: quick strike, heavy attack and combo.
  • Intense pacing — a fast-paced game style, while not a requirement is usually the norm in these games. Run around, kill a bunch of bad guys, solve a puzzle and kill some more. This is the reason that hack-and-slash campaigns sometimes seem shorter compared to some other genres.