Hack and slash or hack and slay (H&S or HnS; also can be stylized in a hyphenated form as in hack-and-slash, or with a contracted conjunction as in hack 'n' slay) refers to a type of gameplay that emphasizes combat.
The term "hack and slash" was originally used to describe a play style in tabletop role-playing games, carrying over from there to MUDs, MMORPGs, and role-playing video games. In arcade- and console-style action video games, the term has a different usage, specifically implying a focus on real-time combat with hand-to-hand weapons as opposed to guns or fists.
The term "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 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."
Role-playing video games
Hack and slash made the transition from the tabletop to role-playing video games, usually starting in D&D-like worlds. This form of gameplay influenced a wide range of action role-playing games, including games such as Lineage, Xanadu and Diablo.
Action video games
Distinct from hack and slash role-playing games, the term "hack and slash" also began being used to refer to weapon-based beat 'em up action games, such as the Golden Axe series. Journalists covering the video game industry often use the term "hack and slash" to refer to a distinct genre of 3D third-person, weapon-based, melee action games, including titles such as Sengoku BASARA, Devil May Cry, Dynasty Warriors, Ninja Gaiden, God of War, Genji, No More Heroes, Bayonetta, Darksiders and Dante's Inferno.
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