Hack and slash or hack and slay, abbreviated H&S or HnS, refers to a type of gameplay that emphasizes combat. "Hack and slash" was originally used to describe a play style in tabletop role-playing games, carrying over from there to MUDs, MMORPGs, and video games in general. In console- and arcade-style video games, the usage specifically implies a focus on combat with hand-to-hand weapons. In other contexts it is more general, and an archer or unarmed martial artist may participate as fully in a hack and slash game, or be as hack-and-slash oriented as an individual, as an armed melee fighter. Both variations of the term are often written in hyphenated form and with the conjunction contracted, e.g. hack-and-slash, hack 'n' slay.

Origins[edit | edit source]

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 magazine 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] The article goes on to report the experience of one D&D player who claimed that "when she plays in tournaments, she does run into the "hack and slash" type of player, but most of them are adolescent males. These types of players not only aggravate her, but other, more mature players as well."[1]

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Hack and slash made the transition from the tabletop to video games, usually starting in D&D-like worlds.[2] This form of gameplay can now be found in a wide range of action role-playing games, including games such as Lineage,[3] and Diablo.[4] Distinct from hack and slash role-playing video games, the term "hack and slash" also began being used to refer to early weapon-based beat 'em up action games, such as Golden Axe.[5][6] The term "hack and slash" is today used to refer to a distinct genre of 3D third-person, weapon-based, beat 'em up action games in the style of Devil May Cry,[7][8] including games such as Onimusha,[8] Ninja Gaiden, Knights Contract, God of War, Heavenly Sword, and Bayonetta.[7]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wells, Jean; Mohan, Kim (July 1980). "Link". Dragon #39 (TSR Hobbies, Inc.) V (1): 16. 
  2. David Myers. "The attack of the backstories (and why they won't win)".
  3. Huhh, Jun Sok; Park, Sang Woo. "Game Design, Trading Markets, and Playing Practices" (pdf).
  4. Cord Kruse (2008-09-05). "Diablo III: Timeline, Expanded RPG Elements, iTunes D3 Music". Retrieved on 2008-10-07.
  5. Greg Kasavin (2006-11-30). "Golden Axe Review". GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-10-07.
  6. Patrick Shaw (2008-05-16). "Golden Axe: Beast Rider". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2008-10-17. Retrieved on 2008-10-07.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Is Dante's Inferno Divine or a Comedy of Errors?, UGO Networks, February 9, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 Heavenly Sword Review, VideoGamer.com, 04/09/2007
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