Hack and slash or hack and slay, abbreviated H&S or HnS, 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 console- and arcade-style video games, the usage specifically implies a focus on combat with hand-to-hand weapons as opposed to guns. The term is often written in hyphenated form and with the conjunction contracted, e.g. hack-and-slash, hack 'n' slay.
Hack and slash Wikipedia
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 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." 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 [aggravate] other, more mature players as well."
Hack and slash made the transition from the tabletop to 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.
Distinct from hack and slash role-playing video games, the term "hack and slash" began being used to refer to early weapon-based beat 'em up action games, such as Golden Axe. 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, including titles such as Devil May Cry, God of War, Darksiders and Bayonetta.