Best Hack and Slash Games
Note: This article was updated in August of 2019.
This week sees another entry into the popular and well populated genre of character action titles, or as they are also called, hack and slashers. The gameplay is relatively simple, there is one protagonist, a bunch of close combat weapons that tend to do a lot of damage, a few ranged attacks that do little damage, and usually a colorful array of thousands and thousands of enemy mooks to hack and slash through until you get to the oversized bossfight. Simple enough.
The genre has been around since the early days of video games and shows no sign of going away, and with good reason—it’s fun as hell and brings to video gaming the visceral feel that gamers often look for when they place their hands on the controller.
Recent years saw an increase in boss sizes and mook numbers, thanks to beefier hardware. It’s an all time favorite genre, and home to some of the most video game video games. It’s worth noting that these games are not ranked in a particular order as we have at times featured entire franchises.
#19 Castle Crashers
Castle Crashers is a rather older title on our list. This 2D arcade adventure can give friends countless hours of hack-and-slash gaming fun as players defend their kingdom and save the princess. Originally released back in 2008 for the Xbox 360, the game can also be found on the PC platform. Gather your friends for an incredible medieval co-op video game that has so far continued to impress gamers a whole console generation after it was first released. To make some comparisons, the gameplay plays a bit similarly to the latest indie hit, Cuphead as players will be facing against a series of bosses with a slight emphasis on timing out attacks and remembering enemy movements.
#18 DMC – Devil May Cry
This much hated reboot by Ninja Theory took the venerated Japanese Devil May Cry games and applied a sheen of western grittiness to it. Protagonist Dante received a complete overhaul together with the entire rest of the cast. Everyone is there. The fans were very negative about this game before release, some could be swayed by the tight gameplay and gorgeous visuals, others remained negative, crying foul about a lot of things. It is still a great game, though it remains up to the individual if this is actually the best entry in the saga, or even a worthy one, or a horrible failure.
#17 Bayonetta Series
Platinum Games have a knack for designing challenging yet delightfully silly titles like this one. The story about a time traveling super witch is largely forgettable, what matters is the super tight gameplay and the splendid presentation. Bayonetta is a ridiculously pretty game that bursts with style. But most importantly, the game mechanics fit as tightly as the eponymous witches leotard. Taking apart angels and demons and deities and other creatures takes a lot of skill, but once that’s mastered you’re going to have endless fun.
#16 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Another much maligned title. Lords of Shadow was slated to be an independent release by Spanish developer Mercury Steam. It eventually was shoehorned into the Castlevania saga when it was picked up by Konami and put under the wing of none other than Hideo Kojima. The production quality is superb, the art style reminiscent of a Guillermo del Toro. On the gameplay side, things could be a bit tighter, especially the camera, but after a few hours things fall into place, all crucial powers are unlocked, and things just flow nicely in this worthy addition to the Castlevania series.
#15 Warhammer 40.000: Space Marine
Relic, the people who do everything Warhammer 40.000 these days, went and created this little, brutal gem for their own distraction, or so it seems. Space Marine is all about smashing, tearing and blowing up enemies of the Emperor. So not that different from the strategy titles, though this time it’s just you as a Space Marine, armed with a trusty chainsaw bayonet and a bolt gun. Strategy isn’t as important, this is all about keeping the flow of carnage up. The game’s mechanics are a bit sluggish in comparison, but beefy enough to stay interesting. It’s a great slasher and a must play for fans of the fictional universe in which there is Only War™.
#14 Brütal Legend
After a really bumpy production history, being dropped by the publisher and taken up by another, and years in development hell, this title already had a rough patch behind it before it even got out the door. This fun brawler SLASH real time strategy SLASH adventure-ish game featuring Jack Black in the lead had a hard time living up to expectations. It’s not a bad game by any means, yet it did fall short in some aspects. Still, it is a very entertaining package with a ton of nods to classic heavy metal music, a great sense of humor and an art style that really comes into its own.
#13 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Revengeance was initially slated as an Xbox 360 exclusive release. Then the entire game concept was scrapped and development went over to Platinum, who crafted a high octane slasher in the vein of Bayonetta and Devil May Cry out of the material. Just as those games, MGR:R is fast paced, furious fun with an epic story told through too many too long cutscenes, as is the series mainstay. It’s great package that comes with even more awesome in the DLC that adds more playable characters.
#12 Devil May Cry V
Devil May Cry 5 is one of the few titles currently out right now for the spring releases. This title puts players into the shoes of a few different characters such as Nero who was present in Devil May Cry 4 and we have to say the game is very fluid with its combat, much like the previous installments. In terms of the narrative, the game picks up after the events of Devil May Cry 4 which follows Nero, Dante and a new character named V as the have to deal with a new powerful demonic invasion. We won’t spoil too much here and we suggest checking out our Before You Buy episode upload on the game posted above.
#11 Darksiders Series
First there was War, now it’s Death’s turn. Darksiders, that Todd McFarlane inspired post biblical apocalypse universe, keeps featuring horsemen of the apocalypse in the lead. The series takes some hints from the Zelda games, while delivering a very distinct own sense of style. Death is a remarkably unique protagonist, the world is really well realized in both visuals and writing and the game itself is just a blast to play.