Hello everyone! LadyCroft3 here with another talented guest poster! Fysh is not only my ever so handsome boyfriend, he is also a very talented individual who loves video games. He’s going to school and majoring in computer science with the hopes of one day becoming a video game developer. His love for video games is strong, and you’ll soon see how much passion he has for them! His post is all about his favorite hack-n-slash games and why he thinks they are the best out there, enjoy!
Fysh’s Top 10 Hack-n-Slash Games
Written by Fysh
When I try to determine what my favorite genre in gaming is, I have a hard time narrowing it down. There are so many genres, sub genres, and hybrids out there these days that it seems impossible to settle on one. However, when I think of how satisfying it is to rack up a triple S combo, or get a massive multiplier of red orbs without taking a scratch from dozens of enemies, I know the answer has to be hack and slash action games. Still, there are so many different types of hack and slash games, and so many others genres that incorporate hack and slash gameplay that I feel the need to select a few games that have that distinct feeling that makes me feel like a total champ (or chump sometimes). So here it is, my list of all time best hack and slash action games, and my reasons why. Now, I haven’t played all of them, so there will undoubtedly be some missing that you may feel deserving of a crown, but remember, this is just a list of games I hold in high esteem. So here are my specifications for what can make it onto the list, just to be clear:
1. It has to be a game driven primarily by combat; there are many games that achieve greatness with simple combat and a focus on other things like exploration or platforming (The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania games to name a few). While these games are some of my favorites, they wont be on this list.
2. The game has to have a distinct feel; I won’t likely put games that are essentially borrowers of another game I have already listed. These games will be the cream of the crop as far as I am concerned.
With that in mind, let us proceed to the list, which spans over a decade in gaming history. Rather than listing in an order of superiority or favoritism, I will list the games in chronological order. I will also list series’ as one entry, with what I consider to be the best of each respective series indicated.
1. Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles
I am a HUGE Star Wars fan, and I was way into episode I when it came out, so this game was a must have for little 12-year-old me. This game debuted on the Playstation in North America on March 31st, 2000. This must have been the first hack and slash game I was introduced to, and boy did I love it. Five Jedi to play as? Tons of unlockable combos? Co-op with a buddy? And of course, the final battle with Darth Maul? This game was great fun in its day. The game played out almost as much a beat ’em up as a hack and slash, with power ups, straightforward level design, and stage bosses, but the fairly intricate combos that got better and longer as you unlocked them definitely set it as a hack and slash in my book. It might be making it on to this list based purely on nostalgia, but it was one of my favorite games growing up, and I think it is worth looking at if you missed it back in 2000.
2. Devil May Cry Series
This is pretty much the tops in terms of hack and slash gameplay. Super stylish and technical combos, over the top action, and a very distinct look and feel. Nobody tops Dante when it comes to stylish combat. The series debuted in North America on August 23rd, 2001. Sadly I didn’t experience this series until fairly recently, but it is one of the main reasons I am writing this article in the first place. The thrill of racking up style points by varying your combos, avoiding hits, and clearing entire crowds in one smooth flow is second to none. Mixing up swordplay with gunplay, and unleashing devil trigger at just the right moment will have you pumped, and the boss fights are some of the best in gaming. My choice for best in the series goes to Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening. That game is the one that brought it all together and solidified the series’ identity. With the introduction of fighting styles, multiple weapon switching, and numerous gameplay improvements along with perfection of the lock on system, and the over the top craziness of the action packed story progression, this one takes the cake. The reboot of the series that was released this year saw some fundamental changes, but I feel that it ultimately preserved the identity of the series, and is a very worthy entry. If you haven’t played these games, I recommend doing so ASAP.
3. Star Wars Jedi Knight II and III
It might be argued that this doesn’t fit my criteria as it partially a shooter, but where these games shine is in the lightsaber combat and that makes up most of the gameplay. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast debuted on PC in North America on March 26th, 2002, with console versions hitting shelves in November of that year. Once again, huge Star Wars fan, and nothing has come close to bringing lightsaber combat this satisfying. Sure it can be a bit clunky at times, but most of the time it is a beautiful flow of saber clashing action. Switching saber styles on the fly, flipping over your opponent and delivering a devastating slash, throwing bounty hunters and storm troopers to their doom with the force, and slicing off an arm to finish your foe is one of the best Star Wars gaming experiences to date. With the release of Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy, players could dual wield sabers, choose the elegant double-bladed saber, or stick with the trusty single blade and mix it up with new features and a new customizable character. I spent countless hours dueling other players online in both of these games. All Star Wars fans should treat themselves to these games at some point in their lives.
4 Mark of Kri
This lesser known title has one of the most unique combat systems in the genre, with heavy use of both analogue sticks on the PS2, brutal executions, and stealth takedowns. It also featured a unique art style, and an intriguing story. It released in North America on July 29th, 2002. It still remains one of my most memorable games, and was a whole lot of fun to play. I haven’t played anything else quite like it.
5 The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers
Another movie series I am a big fan of adapted quite well into the gaming world. This game released on October 21st, 2002 on multiple platforms, and is one of the few good movie to game adaptations out there. It featured a superb combat system with timing and skill being a major factor in combat rating. The player must parry and time attacks to string combos and special moves together to slaughter orcs, goblins, and Uruk Hai. The player has the option to play as Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli, each with a unique style. Throughout the game you will play through multiple scenarios from the films, as well as a few unique to the game segments. The game seamlessly blends gameplay and cut scenes with live action movie clips, which is a nice touch. I didn’t play the Return of The King game, so I didn’t include it, but I believe it is similar to this one. If you are a LOTR fan, this is a great game to get in to.
6 Ninja Gaiden Series
Another series I only really got into recently. While the series originated on the NES in 1988 as an action platformer, it took a turn to full hack and slash with an updated reboot on March 2nd, 2004. That game was remade twice, and the series developed with sequels and handheld entries over the years. The game utilizes stylish combos, and multiple weapons, but is distinctly different from the Devil May Cry games in many ways. Combat is more visceral and tactical, and endless combo strings aren’t as important as in DMC. Instead the focus is on surviving each fight and building up as much essence (money/health) orbs as possible. The tactical use of essence to instantly charge Ultimate Techniques is one of the most distinctive features of the games. These games are known for being unforgivingly difficult, and I have been brutalized for hours playing them. The only one I have played extensively is Ninja Gaiden Sigma, so I can’t pick a best of the series. If you are up for a challenge, give these games a look.
7 God of War Series
These games have a style and identity all their own. They might not be as flashy or technical as DMC, or Ninja Gaiden, but the visceral frantic chain flailing combat, and the brutal dismembering finishers, mixed with the epic mythological setting set this series apart, and give it a place of prestige among hack and slash games. With the first game coming out on March 22nd, 2005, this series introduced a dark, brooding protagonist with a blood spattered past. The quest to seek revenge on the gods began and players took out mythological creatures by the hundreds with the Blades of Chaos. These games have a somewhat frantic feel in combat, with Kratos flinging his chain mounted blades at dozens of enemies and dodging flurries of incoming attacks. The epic scale of the set piece boss battles also really sets these games apart from the rest. This was one of the first game series’ to heavily rely on quick-time events, and like them or hate them, they certainly contribute to the distinctiveness of the series. With three main entries, two hand-held side stories, and an offshoot prequel, this is a lengthy saga but I feel that God of War 3 is really the peak of this series. The visuals that the PS3 pushed were some of the best at the time, and seeing Kratos become more progressively drenched in the blood of his enemies for the first time is really something else. The combat is most fluid in this entry, and the addition of subweapons added a but more depth to combat. The showdowns with the gods are truly some of the most memorable moments in gaming, with the extremely brutal executions of each standing out boldly. Give this series a go, if you haven’t already.
8 Heavenly Sword
This game came out within the first year of the PS3 launch, and it was a showcase of the visual power the system was capable of. Released on September 12th, 2007 in the US, this game features a headstrong female protagonist named Nariko looking to save her clan from the conquering King Bohan. To do so, she takes up the Heavenly Sword, a powerful weapon prophesied to be inherited by the heir to a holy warrior who would bring peace to the land. The look of the game is extremely crisp and stylized, and the combat compliments this perfectly. Nariko can use the sword in three different configurations, one focused on speed, one on ranged attacks, and one on power. The player can freely switch styles in combat by holding the corresponding buttons, and certain enemies are susceptible from attacks from only one of the styles. The boss fights are well done, and the big moments in the game feel very big. The game also features some amazing voice talent with Anna Torv in the lead role, and Andy Serkis voicing the antagonist. Though short-lived, the experience is well worth going for, so check it out.
9 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
With the older games in the series not fitting the criteria, Lords of Shadow rounds out the list with the Castlevania name. This game released in North America on October 5th, 2010. The combat centers on the Combat Cross, a chain whip standing in for the series traditional Vampire Killer whip from earlier entries. The combat also involves careful use of light and dark magic, with light healing the player and dark adding more damage. This mechanic is expanded later in the game with some enemies only being vulnerable to one magic type or the other, and a few puzzles and even boss fights requiring light or dark magic at certain times. There are also a number of sub weapons in classic Castlevania fashion to utilize, like holy water and throwing knives. There are many combos and special attacks to be unlocked, and by the end of the game you will feel like a master of the Combat Cross. With the dark horror setting, and a deep story, mixed with the intense gameplay, this game is a worthy entry to the list.
10 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
The Metal Gear series is probably my favorite game series of all time so when this game was announce, mixing my favorite series with stylish action combat, I was more than excited. This game came out February 19th of this year. The combat is incredibly fluid, with combos not being as technical as some of the other games on the list, but still having a certain level of depth. The main feature that truly sets the combat apart is the blade mode. When the meter is above a certain level, you can freely cut enemies to ribbons in any way you see fit. Armored enemies require you to cut off their armor first, which ramps up the challenge. Boss fights are intense and worthy of the Metal Gear name, with crazy action sequences, and QTE’s. The story grounds itself well in the Metal Gear universe, and Raiden is at his best with all the cyborg enhancements at his disposal. Each boss defeated grants a new weapon to Raiden’s arsenal, and you can have one of these weapons equipped alongside Raiden’s High Frequency blade at any given time. There are also sub weapons such as grenades and rocket launchers to round out your offensive abilities. The game ranks your performance at the end of each encounter, based on flow, damage taken, time, and blade mode use. The game is short, but replayability is high with higher difficulties unlocking after successful completions. This is one of my favorites and it is a must play for fans of high action hack and slash gameplay.
I wanted to pay homage to one of the most beloved genre’s in gaming, and showcase the games that make the genre so great. These games are shining examples of action combat, and each deserves to be played and enjoyed. If you are a fan of games like this, or you are interested in getting into this genre, I hope this list helps guide you to finding some of the most enjoyable gaming experiences out there. Happy slashing, and keep it stylish.