As much as a lot of us would refuse to admit it, there’s nothing quite like unleashing some aggression. Video games let us easily live out this fantasy many times over, often offering up wave after wave of generic bad guy punchbags as we make our way through such detailed worlds, lining themselves up alongside each other like pigs to the slaughter. This is a cliché and experience most perfectly encapsulated within the hack & slash genre, providing us all with the ultimate power fantasy of being the most utterly badass and physically imposing in the room.
Before you know it, melee weapons start to become a natural extension of our main character’s own limbs, letting us twirl, uppercut – and of course – hack and slash our way through with many a combo and enemy juggle. In celebration of this momentous experience, here are IGCritic’s top 10 hack and slash games:
Putting you in the shoes of one of the four horsemen (War to be exact), Darksiders is an often overlooked treat of a video game released during the last generation of consoles, and is a great example of a hack and slash game that does it right. You’re not the hero of this story, so feel free to rip enemies apart, gut them with your sword, and even pull out their hearts, Darksiders boasts plenty of dungeons to explore and lots of smooth slicing action to experience within them.
- DMC (Devil May Cry)
Can we all just admit it? Ninja Theory’s more up-to-date take on Capcom’s silver-haired demon hunter though different, offered up one of the most memorable and stylish hack and slash experiences around when first released in 2013. Kitted out with your two trusty guns ebony and ivory along with a whole host of vicious melee weapons, balancing the light and dark side combos always felt good, if only for the additional layer of depth which saw us juggle enemies. DMC also features some of the best boss fights ever in a game, all of which still remain no match for the angsty Dante.
- God of War III
If you thought DMC’s Dante had an attitude problem, try putting him toe to toe with Kratos, the titular god of war who’s rage never fails to disappoint in this blockbusting third chapter. Still hellbent on gaining revenge against father Zeus, as shouty Kratos learning how to master his blades of chaos as well as other head-squelching weapons the Greek gods never realise what’s coming to them. Complete with a handy upgrade system powered by blood (of course), God of War III may be macabre but it’s a hack and slasher with many bombastic set-pieces.
When Marvel’s merc with a mouth got his very own video game, you’d be forgiven for worrying that said game would find it tricky to nail the character’s sense of humour. Thankfully as well as nailing this (not least thanks to the voice talents of Nolan North), developer High Moon Studios also made playing as the titular hero in Deadpool a breeze with tight sword and gun kill-em-up gameplay. This mix of melee and shooting lets you approach each scenario however you choose, letting everyone’s favourite mercenary easily channel his thirst for blood.
- Bayonetta 2
Considered to be one of the best sequels ever made, Platinum’s Bayonetta 2 not only let Wii U owners roleplay as the most badass femme fetale, but also let them indulge in one of the deepest and most addictive combo systems out there. Bayonetta 2 is notable for the level of challenge even your average enemies offer, tasking you to overcome that hurdle knowing that the tools for the job are already laid out, it’s just up to you to use them the right way. Whether you punch, kick, or shoot your way through to the game’s end, the game’s spectacle will always have players on the edge of their seat.
- Prototype 2
Successfully riffing off of the established systems from the first game, Prototype 2 this time places you in the role of a dishevelled cop tracking down the very person you were playing as the initial time round. From leaping black tendrils to gaping black hole attacks, wielding the tar-like blacklight virus gives you near-limitless methods and techniques to creatively dispatch any foes (or civilians) that stand in your way.
- No More Heroes
Definitely one of the most stylish and personality-driven hack and slash entries on our list, sometimes t’s hard to believe that the original No More Heroes originally started out as a Wii exclusive. As Travis Touchdown your goal is to climb to the top of Santa Destroy’s killer-led leader bored, engaging in some gory and over the top beam katana action. The uncensored PS3/X360 version is highly worth seeking out if you can grab it, but either way No More Heroes will never have trouble getting its cell-shaded claws in you.
Dropping you amongst the freaky and downright messed up backdrop of macabre gameshow “Deathwatch”, as chainsaw-wielding Jack you’ll make your way through Madworld’s various black and white levels – but don’t worry they won’t stay those colours for long. Evoking a super-stylised yet detailed world reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Sin City, Madworld lets you unleash the aggression and paint the walls red through many engaging slash attacks and environmental traps.
- Killer is Dead
Touting some of the tightest sword-based combat to be found in any good hack and slash game, Killer is Dead has since become a bit of a cult classic amongst fans, and quite rightly so when considering the game’s emphasis on story as well as combat and style. While undertaking 12 assassination contracts, it won’t be too long before you’re dodging, weaving, and striking in a bid to be successful. If you can handle the ultra-violent imagery, Killer is Dead doesn’t disappoint with its action or characters.
- Diablo 3
Diablo 3’s history may be marred with a rocky and slightly unfair beginning, but these days the dungeon-crawling hack and slash RPG is a game that still boasts a vibrant and active community thanks to Blizzard’s commitment to keep releasing new content. Seeing damage numbers continually pop off of enemy foes as you unleash each attack never fails to feel satisfying, and especially when playing with friends Diablo 3 is top-down slashing fun at its best.