PlatinumGames has always been known for its hack-and-slash prowess, so it came as no surprise that their excellence in the art form would once again shine through the critically acclaimed Bayonetta 3following the works of equally ground-breaking games as NieR: Automata and Astral chain. The influence they and hack-and-slash titles have as a whole has cemented itself into new combat experiences in titles like God of War: Ragnarok, Genshin effectand Fire Emblem: Three Hopesall while exciting upcoming titles such as Black Myth: Wukong and Samurai Maiden continue the trend of flashy battles that will undoubtedly impress players through adrenaline-filled scenarios.
Coming off Greed, Steel rising was a very different departure for developer SPIDERS which took a more sophisticated, high-speed action RPG approach and put players in the shoes of an automaton fighting a king’s army to protect late 18th century France from further bloodshed and madness.
Steel rising at a glance is clearly influenced by Souls-like titles, but the elegance and speed of combat balances well with its challenging nature to provide a flashy and grandiose presentation where historic French architecture complements the sword dance on screen.
Devil May Cry 5
As the creator of both devil may cry and BayonettaHideki Kamiya paved the way for a genre so that today’s games could run. devil may cry has long been out of Hideki Kamiya’s hands, but Devil May Cry 5 showed that his influence and teachings are still very important to the core through all the best games in the series.
CAPCOM’s Devil May Cry 5 was not only a graphical powerhouse, but its multi-team combat featured across multiple playable protagonists made the game feel like an absolute rollercoaster for players, and eventually everyone would walk away from Devil May Cry 5 with an unforgettable experience tailored by masterful combat, fantastic storytelling and the need for more.
Dusk Diver 2
As the phantoms begin to invade, players jump into the shoes of Yumo, a girl who works with her guardians to protect the world from destruction. What Dusk Diver does to stand out from others in the genre is that the arena-based combat takes place mainly in the wonderful city of Taipei, Taiwan, and it’s one of the most refreshing worlds to be a part of when most games in the hack-and-slash genre are usually in a dark fantasy setting, post-apocalyptic areas or important locations such as New York or Japan.
Dusk Diver 2 has a stunning aesthetic to boot, with vibrant illustrations that really pop on modern screens, and combat can be intense, really shining against the detailed, anime-like backgrounds of the cities being fought in.
Known for his crazy, over-the-top works such as Killer7, No More Heroesand Shadows of the DamnedSuda51 has long been a pioneer of the hack-and-slash genre, creating some of the most visually striking backdrops and unlikely scenarios players find themselves in. Lollipop chainsaw is no exception to this rule, and as a collaboration with venerable director James Gunn, the game once again took the hack-and-slash genre to unseen lands.
Playing as cheerleader Juliet Starling, a zombie outbreak occurs that she must fight against all while being accompanied by her boyfriend’s talking disembodied head. Since all this happens on her birthday too, she fights the zombie apocalypse using her trusty chainsaw in one of the strangest yet bloodiest scenarios players will find themselves in any game. However, because of this, the game has many shocking kill sequences and combat animations that are shocking throughout.
As a member of a special police force with sentient weapon powers called the Legions, Astral chain has players investigating and traveling to a variety of locations as they get to the bottom of what’s causing an outbreak of interdimensional monsters, all while dealing with puzzles and assembling key pieces throughout the game.
Developed by PlatinumGames, the hack-and-slash masterclass transitions seamlessly between player and Legion as they battle against lavishly decorated arenas and backdrops that create an irresistibly captivating atmosphere. After winning several awards, Astral chain is one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives that remains a unique hack-and-slash experience.
Since 2010, Darksiders has long been one of the preeminent hack-and-slash franchises due to its retelling and perspective on the Four Horsemen. With Darksiders IIIFury takes the stage with the series’ most challenging yet satisfying fight yet, using every possible power she’s known for and more throughout Scripture.
It has a scale that hack-and-slash games don’t often come with, allowing players to not only have spectacular battles within gigantic and diverse biomes, but obtain collectibles, secrets and more throughout. Having influence from Souls-like games in the latest entries and Metroidvania properties, Darksiders III provides much to enjoy, explore and uncover.
Neptunia x SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars
Although both franchises have been relatively niche, a devoted fanbase has kept each property relatively successful for over a decade each, even spawning anime based on the games. Just the two of them Senran Kagura has historically been a hack-and-slash title, whereas Hyperdimension Neptunia series have been more involved in traditional turn-based RPGs, but each complements the other with an eclectic cast when they meet in Neptunia x SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Warsand brings a flashy, anime hack-and-slash combat experience with visual novel storytelling.
The linearity of the game as well as each individual franchise – may put some off, but it’s a respectful and exciting enough collaboration that will certainly please fans of both. The combat is especially worth sticking with, with consistent upgrades and increased skill sets that showcase each power in colorful ways.
With clear inspiration from the likes of Berserk and Claymore, Soul acquisition is a newer hack-and-slash experience that takes players through a dark fantasy where two sisters are reborn as chimeras, granting superhuman strength. The story of the two sees them scrambling through an unknown world as they battle hordes of enemies that keep them at bay.
The hack-and-slash venture from a gaming perspective clearly draws inspiration from the likes of devil may crybut implements it in a more gothic way, with tenebrous landscapes and cities everywhere that give the place a sense of dread.
NieRthe introduction in 2010 was a quiet introduction that certainly classified the series as niche, but once its sequel, NieR: Automatawas released, it took the world by storm and defined a new way of playing and presenting the hack-and-slash genre, even bringing in players who had not previously been exposed to them.
Following a group of cyborgs, NieR: Automata is one of the best games to play as multiple protagonists as they walk through spectacular landscapes eloquently crafted by PlatinumGames. The combat within was some of the most fluid ever seen within the genre and games as a whole, and it provided a whole new way to explore and bring life to a series that hadn’t known much before.
Most hack-and-slash titles since the early 2000s have been presented in three-dimensional settings to showcase large set pieces and hordes of on-screen enemies to satisfy the player as they dispose of the on-screen threats, but ICEY takes the concept into a 2D space and does so in a miraculous feat of extravagant animations and vibrant tech-filled cyberpunk backdrops.
ICEY is not only a feast for the eyes, but it has a smart approach to its story, as well as a narrator guiding the player throughout, but going against the narrative can lead to many surprises as the story goes deeper into a conversation about ” why do we do what we do?” and what it means to be programmed and do things instinctively. As a game constantly full of surprises, ICEY is engaging throughout and hard to put down as it breaks down the walls of what it means to be the player in control, and it’s also one of the best 2D games on Switch.
NEXT: Bayonetta 3: 10 powerful witches in games like Bayonetta