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Stylish Action
aka: Spectacle Fighter

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You, too, can do this, any time you want — so long as you know what you're doing.
"This is simply the benefit of training!"
Rosa from Bayonetta 2, spoken only when the player achieves a Pure Platinum combat grade

For some action heroes, it's not enough to just save the world; they've gotta look good doin' it.

Stylish Action is a Sub-Genre of action video games that involves unrealistic combat and the fun that comes from learning how to create it. Its main point is to use a deep set of mechanics to be stylish, rather than the style coming from the animations themselves. In short, the style is because you, the player, are earning stylish combat through developing your skills, not just the character through what they're programmed to do.

Unlike most action games, stylish action is just a particular way of engaging players in combat, so it's crossed over with a few established genres including Beat 'em Up, Hack and Slash, and Third-Person Shooter. Since its mechanics give players a relatively large amount of freedom over how their battles go, the genre is basically the Wide-Open Sandbox of action games.

Three elements are the backbone of this genre:

  • Combat depth. The selling point of stylish action's combat is its variety. Most action games emphasize defeating your enemies, but stylish action emphasizes how you do it, so combat tools tend to be meant for different playstyles instead of being clearly better or worse than each other. Attacks and weapons can vary in range, speed, damage, knockback, launch angle, stun, area of effect, the amount of hits and how much they move the player, and status changes like Super Mode, taunts, and Bullet Time add to this further.

  • Teaching through difficulty. Stylish action enemies are meant to challenge the player unless they adapt; just like the player's combat tools, enemies will vary in how susceptible they are to particular fighting styles. Unlike most Hack and Slash games, there are no harmless one-hit mooks, so memorizing the behavior patterns of every type of enemy is key to surviving fights. Mistakes tend to be punished harshly to help the player recognize what needs to be improved. On TV Tropes, we call this Nintendo Hard — a term from the old days of console gaming where many titles were ported over from arcade cabinets designed to snarf up your quarters.

  • Scoring as motivation to improve. Multiple difficulty settings, combo scores, battle reports, and chapter rankings give the player a tangible sense of progress, and more recent games may carry online leaderboards that let players compare their high scores against everyone else. The "Just Frame" Bonus is a popular way of applying this to individual moves; gradually mastering the tricky timing of a particular attack or defend lets players test their skill whenever they want.

If this sounds like stylish action games try to replicate the feel of arcade games, you're absolutely rightHideki Kamiya (who directed the Trope Codifier Devil May Cry and its Spiritual Successor Bayonetta) stated that his inspiration for the game's combat came from his days of playing at arcades and finding the ability to make a cool move because he knew people were watching.

Some of the genre's alternate names are character action, technical action, cuhrayzee games, spectacle fighters, deep action, arcade action, combo action and extreme action. There are some, however, that don't like this label, and prefer to simply call them action games.

Compare and contrast with two other subgenres: musou, which pit the player against entire armies of individually-harmless enemies, and the Souls-like RPG, which refers to games (notably those of FromSoftware's output like Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne) that greatly prefer "teaching through difficulty" over combat depth or scoring systems.

The genre-defining titles

These are the games are universally pointed towards as being part of the "stylish action" genre, and are the ones that established the many conventions that the rest of the genre follows. This is not an indictment on the quality of these games or the games not mentioned, just a list of the ones most universally-agreed upon to be "stylish action" games:

  • Astral Chain (Nintendo Switch): This PlatinumGames title combines the gameplay of fellow Platinum works Bayonetta and NieR: Automata with a touch of The Wonderful 101 to create a game where the player takes control of not just their player character, but also a weapon called the Legion at the same time. Mastering the ability to control both the player character and Legion at the same time allows for creative and dazzling combos in what Platinum dubs a Synergetic Action game.
  • Bayonetta (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch) / Bayonetta 2 (Wii U, Nintendo Switch) / Bayonetta 3 (Nintendo Switch): The Spiritual Successor to Devil May Cry, the most famous modern example, and exhibits every characteristic listed above. All three games are known for their wide selection of open-ended weapons, combos, and techniques. Defensive play revolves around well-timed dodging to trigger brief Bullet Time, and the "dodge offset" advanced mechanic that allows Bayonetta to pause an attack string, dodge, and then finish the string. The first Bayonetta is considerably less forgiving than its sequels, although combat in all three games is famous for its complexity. An explanation of some mechanics can be found here and here, while examples of high-level play can be found here and here.
  • Devil May Crynote : The Trope Maker for the subgenre, and the first game of which was directed by eventual Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya. The third entry, which significantly sped up the gameplay and opened up a massive amount of creative combo opportunities compared to the original two, is often seen as the "refinement" of the genre, the fourth entry's version of Dante has such an absurd amount of difficult high level tech that he is likely the most complex action game character of all time, and the fifth game is widely considered a near-perfect masterpiece of stylish action.
    • DmC: Devil May Cry (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): A franchise reboot of the Devil May Cry series from Ninja Theory.
    • Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat (iOS, Android): An Action RPG spin-off with a Gacha monetization model. Ironically, its simplified gameplay and reliance on character switching, character variations, RPG elements, and ability cooldowns make it play just like other stylish action mobile gachas such as Honkai Impact 3rd and Punishing: Gray Raven, two older games that were following the footsteps of Devil May Cry before it.
  • God Hand (PS2): An over-the-top hand-to-hand brawler that lets players assign techniques to three attacking buttons in lieu of weapons. This was the last game made by Clover Studio before shutting down, though many of the design team migrated over to PlatinumGames afterward.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Xbox 360, PS3, PC): A challenging PlatinumGames title. The game's combat is based in bladed weapons and realistic cutting physics, along with Metal Gear stealth. Defensive play is mostly reliant on parrying attacks and potentially counterattacking with frame-perfect timing, while players can also "stab-and-grab" repair units from foes to recharge their health and energy. An example of advanced tech being used on the final boss can be found here.note 
  • Ninja Gaiden (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS Vita, PS4, Nintendo DS, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, PC): The 3D games (and the God of War-like Yaiba (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC) to a lesser extent), which rely on lightning-quick reflexes, mixing grounded approaches with risky air combos, and skilled manipulation of unforgiving, aggressive enemies. The Black rerelease of Ninja Gaiden (2004) is widely considered the series' strongest entry.
  • Vanquish (Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC): A fast-paced third-person shooter from PlatinumGames. Guns, grenades, powerful melee attacks, and cover are standard fare for the genre, but Vanquish adds stylish action with two mechanics: the first is a high-speed powerslide that gives players unrivaled mobility, and the second is "AR Mode", an at-will Bullet Time that players can only trigger with some form of movement or low health, forcing the player to be active/risking themselves in combat, and combine with the game's basic mechanics to create combos. A video of high-level play in the game's first level can be found here.
  • Viewtiful Joe (PS2, Gamecube): A sidescrolling, 2.5D beat-em-up game developed by Ōkami developer Clover Studio and published by Capcom as one of the "Capcom Five"note . The game utilizes a time manipulation gimmick which allows the player to either speed up or slow down time for dodging enemy attacks and solving puzzles, with the player's performance being graded after every encounter. This naturally leads to some impressive combat scenarios in the hands of a skilled player.
  • The Wonderful 101 (Wii U, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC): A Pikmin and Ōkami hybrid with an over-the-top sense of superhero scale, published by Nintendo, made by PlatinumGames and directed by Hideki Kamiya. Players fight by combining their team members to form "Unite Morphs," gigantic weapons and objects that can interact with the arena and its enemies in various ways. As with Kamiya's other games, new players can expect lots of difficulty, but the fast-paced combat is ultimately fair once it's mastered.

Other examples of the genre

These are titles that feature some elements of the stylish action genre, but for one reason or another, aren't considered to be the archetypal titles in vein of the aforementioned games and are less agreed-upon as being part of the genre in comparison to the genre-defining titles. Again, these games being listed here is not an indictment on their quality - they're just more contested when it comes to classification as a "stylish action" game.

  • Afro Samurai (PS3, Xbox 360): A 2009 hack-and-slash based on the anime of the same name. It boasts a fairly in-depth combat system featuring a plethora of combos utilizing not only standard light/heavy attacks, but kicks as well as parries and a "focus" system allowing for precise dismemberment of enemies, serving as a sort of far less refined version of MGR's Blade Mode. These videos give a good idea of what's possible with the mechanics. There is also a minigame called Body Part Poker, which encourages players to utilize the aforementioned focus to cut certain parts of enemies off to earn bonuses.
  • Agony: The Portal: A flash-based Hack and Slash side-scrolling Web Game that pits you, an Evil Overlord Magic Knight with a flail and dark magic against hordes of different enemies, with a basic combo scoring system that rewards not only stringing long chains of attacks to crush the forces of good before you, but doing so in style, actively giving out higher rewards for combos involving as many special attacks as possible.
  • Assault Spy (PC): A spy themed "stylish, fast paced, pure-action game with a dash of comedy" with incredible Devil May Cry influences.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt Series (3DS, Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One) is known for utilizing a unique scoring system called "Kudos". Kudos is earned by defeating enemies in a successful chain, and as well as defeating bosses using a skill. By utilizing different means to defeat enemies (such as aerial finishers, chaining tags, etc.) more Kudos can be earned. Taking damage will immediately rob you of your Kudos count, and reaching a checkpoint (bar 3) will bank your stored Kudos, thus, encouraging players to actually keep their score count, which includes during fights with a stage boss. Attaining higher ranks require players to precisely memorize the stage layout and anticipate enemy attacks to avoid getting hit, and as well as quickly clearing a stage in a lowest time limit. Later games put more emphasis on a fast-paced, high octane action by offering a variety of options to defeating enemies and earning kudos.
  • Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA) turns into this at higher levels of play, since Astro has access to three Fighting Game-style supers, every hit in a combo is a score multiplier, and it's possible to reset your basic attack combo by jetting up to three times, but since the combo counter/score multiplier only goes up to 10, it's a pretty limited take on the genre (but then again, it was made for the Game Boy Advance).
  • Baldr Sky (PC): Visual Novel it may be, the other half of it is an action-fighting hybrid that features a customizable moveset akin to God Hand that allows players to execute tech like canceling one string of attacks into an aerial launcher that follows up with another set of attacks. A demonstration of some of the more advanced techniques in this game can be seen here.
  • Beyond Sunset (PC), one of the most gorgeous first-person Hack and Slash action games ever.
  • Bladed Fury (PC, PS4, Xbox One) a game whose graphics looks like ancient Chinese art coming to life.
  • Blood Over (PC): A 2D doujin game where players are encouraged to "overkill" enemies by effectively using the protagonist's guns and kick attacks as well as their partner to deal out heavy damage to their opposition.
  • Bright Memory, or more precisely, Bright Memory: Infinite (PC, PS5, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch) offers the player a variety of guns, swordplay, a Power Fist with several interesting powers, and high speed movement options, allowing for creative and visually spectacular means of destroying various enemies encountered along the way.
  • Bulletstorm (Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One): A first-person shooter by People Can Fly. Described with the tagline of "kill with skill," it's based around racking up massive combos of "skillshots" that involve slaughtering your opponent in more stylish ways than just basic headshots (and repeating the same one often lowers your score). Becomes essential on the hard difficulty, since the higher your score is with the skillshot system, the more often you can buy ammo & upgrades for your weaponry.
  • Bujingai (PS2): A game that followed in the wake of Devil May Cry, except it uses Wuxia as a major influence.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC), a Spin-Off of the Castlevania franchise in which you get to play as the series' Big Bad Dracula himself, both in his time as a human and as a vampire, the game encourages a varied and aggressive fighting style through its meter system and various Super Mode to keep the fighting fresh.
    • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC): A game similar in nature to the two console entries above, it is notable for being one of a few character action games on the 3DS, playing like a 2D God of War.
  • Chaos Legion (PS2, PC): A video game based on the obscure and Japan-only light novel series of the same name, which is also considered to be the spiritual predecessor to Astral Chain as its protagonist has the ability to summon various Legions at their beck and call to fight hordes of enemies. The game features various abilities their character can learn through their Legions and encourages skillful play to get the most amount of experience points possible through each stage.
  • Cröixleur (PC): An arcade-styled doujin game heavily inspired by the Bloody Palace from the later Devil May Cry entries where players must quickly dispatch waves of enemies using various weapons of their choice under a time limit. Its re-releases add a scoring system and grading system that evaluates player performance.
  • Dante's Inferno (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP): Developed by Visceral Games, the same team behind the Dead Space franchise, it is a hack-and-slash game heavily inspired by God of War and loosely based on the first part of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy. This incarnation of Dante fights his way through the Nine Circles of Hell armed with Death's scythe and magic spells in an attempt to rescue Beatrice from the clutches of Lucifer. Combining the scythe's hack-and-slash mechanics with the Cross' projectile spells, the game encourages the player to fight stylishly through waves of enemies while solving the occasional puzzle.
  • Darksidersnote  and Darksiders IInote  both combine Zelda-esque puzzle solving and open world traversal with a combo-based fighting system reminiscent of early God of War and Devil May Cry. While not as combat-heavy as other examples, the games encourage chaining offensive moves and defensive tactics to survive and dispatch enemies with swiftness and intricacy during encounters, being far more melee-heavy and arcade-esque than the average action adventure-focused game.
    • Darksiders III (PS4, Windows, Xbox One, Switch), while incorporating far more methodical Souls-like elements in its combat instead, still incorporates a strong focus on barrages of attacks despite having a more limited array of combos. It also has the option for the player to adjust the playstyle to resemble that of the first two games. Darksiders Genesis (PS4, Windows, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia), meanwhile, combines mechanics from the original two games with a Diablo-like top down perspective.
  • The Dishwasher (PC, Xbox 360): This 2D action game from Ska Studios has a lot in common with Devil May Cry and relishes in its fast pace with button prompts that initiate fast finishing moves that can link to more combos. With long range options in the guns and weapon switching to make combos more interesting, the game has found its place in the action gaming community.
  • Doom (2016) (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One) and Doom Eternal (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch): Two classic shooter game reboots made by id Software. Bringing style to shooters in a method similar to Vanquish, the reboots introduce two mechanics designed to improve the combat: Glory Kills, which serve as Finishing Moves, and weapon mods, which change how alternate weapon fire works for each of the guns, giving the games an extra layer of strategy.
  • Evil West (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC): An Always Over the Shoulder Third-Person Shooter with a mix of Beat 'em Up elements. The game does not use any cover mechanics. Emphasizing on dodging, twitch shooting, and melee in-between. There is more of an arcade nature, as all of your weapons are on recharge or cooldown, and there is no reloading.
  • Fairy Bloom Freesia (PC): A 2D indie title that features extensive ground-to-air combo capabilities similar to Bayonetta.
  • Final Fantasy XV (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC): The ultimate culmination of Square Enix attempting to replicate the action scenes of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children in an actual game, higher-level gameplay is as high flying and action-packed as your typical Shounen anime, emphasizing skillful play more than raw stats by grading your performance based on your Offense (how aggressive you are), your Time (how short the battle is), and your Finesse (how often you attack the enemy's blind spots, and how often you parry), and rewarding you with more skill points for the game's skill tree if you A+ one of them with specific accessories equipped, the ability to swap between multiple weapons, as well as grenade-like spells, on the relative fly, the need to tactically command your party to efficiently, and even giving the option of intentionally making yourself Weak, but Skilled by locking the level up system behind your characters resting. As this gameplay video shows, there's a reason why Lost Soul Aside, a longtime member of this list, had this as one of its inspirations.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake (PlayStation 4) continues to build upon Square's vision of a highly-stylish combat system by using the framework established by Final Fantasy XV and the Kingdom Hearts series to create a balanced mixture between the dynamic combat of newer Square Enix titles and the more methodical, strategic nature of older JRPGs. Gameplay is notably heavier and slower than XV, but players gain access to distinct combat styles offered by different characters (which can be changed on the fly) and chain combos, magic, and parries to deliver devastating damage.
      • Its sequel Rebirth (PlayStation 5) expands character movesets and adds Synergy attacks, further diversifying the combat.
    • Final Fantasy XVI (PlayStation 5), the long-awaited successor to XV, is the most obvious example in the franchise yet. Not only does it take the action further, it has Ryota Suzuki, was one of the combat designers for Devil May Cry 5, as combat designer. PlatinumGames also took part in the game's development.
    • Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (Xbox One, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC): A Spin-Off developed by Team Ninja which brings a combat system more akin to the studio's Nioh and combines it with the aesthetics and magic systems of the franchise.
  • F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch (PS4, PS5, PC, Switch, Xbox Series), while a Metroidvania through and through, features a surprisingly deep combat system with three weapons which can be swapped on the fly; each with a variety of combos, super moves and special actions which can be chained together for some spectacular results.
  • Ghost of Tsushima (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5) is the closest an Assassin's Creed-style game comes to this, with a stance system similar to Nioh, as well as a wide array of unlockable projectiles that encourage versatility and creativity in combat. These, combined with a plethora of stealth moves, a unique skill tree to each stance with varying effectiveness against certain enemy types, and methodical-yet-fast battles that require a mixture of offensive and defensive tactics to win effectively, give the player a huge array of ways to manage fights, whether you choose a stealthy or close-quarters approach. Sucker Punch themselves even described it as a "skill-based brawler" during its development, going beyond a standard hack-and-slash.
  • God of Warnote : A hack-and-slash series featuring chained swords, grapples, and magic as its combat components. God of War features easy-to-learn combat, various setups for combos and loops, and a simple scoring system that rewards extended combos at certain lengths. While not as overtly technical as other classics in the genre like Devil May Cry, the low execution barrier, and simplicity make it a good choice for newer players. However, to those that are willing to dig deeper, there is significantly more to the combat than many assume there is. This video from God of War III shows off some possibilities of the combat system.
    • The 2018 God of War (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC) soft reboot's placement in the genre is more up in the air, as it moves away from the faster-paced, over the top action of the previous games in favor of a more grounded, almost ''Souls''-like methodical combat that also emphasizes the usage of Kratos' son Atreus as Assist Character. That said, the game still heavily encourages chaining combos to great effect, mixing with an axe that can be thrown away and addition of RPG Elements that expand on Kratos' options and abilities for battles, as well as carefully translating the old combat system of the original games to a new perspective.
    • God of War Ragnarök (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5) is the previous game, but more. More vertically in combat arenas and level designs. More ways to mix and match combos, magic, runic attacks, and assists. The game becomes more faster paced in the combat deparment compared to its predecessor.
  • Ghost Rider (2007) (PlayStation 2): A video game based on the 2007 Marvel film of the same name. It combines elements of Devil May Cry and God of War.
  • Gungrave (PS2): A Third-Person Shooter that could be considered the "spiritual ancestor" of sorts to Vanquish, if this video is anything to go by. Currently consists of Gungrave 2002 and its sequels Gungrave Overdose (PlayStation 2) and Gungrave GORE (PlayStation 4|5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC).
  • Helvetii (PC) takes the stylish combat and interestingly mixes it in with a generous helping of a Roguelike: while the enemies in any given level are generally the same, encounter composition and the level layout are randomized, forcing the player to adapt and get creative in order to ace every encounter. Featuring three characters with varied movesets, including launchers, air raves, downward slams, and ranged attacks; as well as various ways to buff various aspects of your character (notably the "Divine Pact" you can forge which allows you to summon a god from the Gallic pantheon to either buff you or unleash a Limit Break-style attack), no two fights in Helvetii ever look the same but they are always visually stunning and extremly satisfying.
  • Hi-Fi RUSH (PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5): A rhythm-based action game from Tango Gameworks. Hiding behind its Sunset Overdrive-esque aesthetics and gameplay lies a tightly-woven combat system that rewards players for attacking and defending in time to the beat of the soundtrack.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd (iOS, Android, PC) was admitted by the creators as being their attempt at making a game similar to Devil May Cry and Bayonetta but for mobile with gacha elements.
  • Jitsu Squad (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch): A beat-em-up with fighting game mechanics, this game's combat system - heavily inspired by Marvel vs. Capcom - has players tag out characters for other characters to unleash wild combos.
  • Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez (PS4, Switch): An action game starring the main characters of Kamen Rider W, Kamen Rider OOO and Kamen Rider Zero-One. Despite having a Souls-like stamina system (which can be easily nullified upon equipping an "Accelarator" earned from clearing the game for the first time) in the form of "Rider Power" gauge which depletes from doing actions that aren't moving or normal attacks, the game still allows and encourages you to make extensive use of the Form Change mechanic and chain combos (or simply just the latter if you're playing as Kamen Rider Joker, FangJoker and Proto-Birth, who does not have an alternate form like every other characters in the roster) for the best score during an enemy encounter and boss fight. With the aforementioned "Accelarator" that nullifies the stamina system equipped, the player is capable of performing series of amazing combos with more freedom.
  • Killer is Dead (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC): Created by Grasshopper Manufacture as a Spiritual Successor to both Killer7 and the No More Heroes series, the game features a complex combat system that, while simpler than that of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, allows for some visually spectacular fights.
  • Kingdom Hearts III (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Switch) is this, especially compared to previous titles, the combat is fast-paced with a great variety of foes to fight, but an even greater amount of ways to take them down, including normal combos, magic, summons, rides, Keyblade transformations, Super Modes, and more, all of which is at the control of the player and can be unleashed, many times simultaneously for even greater combos. The ReMind DLC (As well as the free update that proceeds it) adds in brand new combo modifiers for Base Sora that take this even further, and the update also increased the overall combat speed of Sora himself.
    • Kingdom Hearts II (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Switch), especially the final mix version, is also this to a lesser extent, with a distinct amount of combo modifiers, fast-paced gameplay, various drive form transformations for new combos and abilities, that can be activated even mid-combo, and more.
  • The Legend of Korra (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): Another PlatinumGames work, which features deep combat based around physical combat and "bending" four elements with different uses. While the scoring system is shallow compared to other Platinum games, its versatile combat and surprisingly harsh difficulty still make it one of the genre's most complex games.
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S, Switch, PC), of all things, has a surprisingly technical and combo heavy combat system which many players have compared to Devil May Cry and others of its ilk and have exploited it to great effect.
  • Lollipop Chainsaw (Xbox 360, PS3), Grasshopper Manufacture's answer to Bayonetta. With a mix of hand-to-hand fighting and chainsaw attacks, players can trigger Sparkle Hunts, which are slow-mo-style rewards earned by killing multiple enemies at once. A remake is in the works for PlayStation 5.
  • Lost Soul Aside (PS4, PS5): Formerly a one-man-team-made action game by Bing Yang (Now hired by Sony) that has aspects of the Teleportation system of Final Fantasy XV with Devil May Cry and Bujingai influences.
  • Magenta Horizon (PC) cites Hollow Knight and Devil May Cry as its inspirations, and provides both tricky platforming with plethora of different movement options and frantic yet technical combat with a vast assortment of techniques (including the aforementioned movement options) which can be chained into combos to fill out a style meter.
  • Mahou Arms (PC): A Devil May Cry/NieR:Automata character action fusion with the former's Style Ranks and the latter's protagonist and setting.
  • Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (PC, Xbox 360): A blend of God of War and Dante's Inferno (and even DmC Devil May Cry), the game employs the combat systems of both games in addition to DmC's weapon change system, allowing players to perform the same kinds of combos possible in all three action games.
  • Marvel's Avengers (Xbox One, Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Google Stadia): This Crystal Dynamics title in Marvel's standalone video game series has the player take control of a multitude of Earth's Mightest Heroes, utilizing a combo system allowing for air juggles, attack cancels, and all sorts of combat tech. here are some possibilities.
  • Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae (Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One): Takes inspiration from the Bloody Palace mode seen in later Devil May Cry entries and Tamsoft's Onechanbara series as players faces off multiple waves of enemies in an arena with an end boss after waves have been completed.
  • Nelo (PC): A game described by developer Magic and Mirrors as a "lightning fast, out of this world, genre-blending, bullet-hell, character-action epic"; it is currently on Steam in Early Access. Recent Gameplay from the Official Youtube Channel
  • NieR: Automata (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch): Somewhat simpler than some of Platinum's other works, and slightly more reliant on stats and equips, but it still requires precision for high-level play, and it's significantly more skill-based than your typical Action RPG.
    • The 2021 remake of NieR: Replicant (PS4, Xbox One, Windows) adapts the combat system to resemble that of Automata, allowing for more fluid combat that encourages more precise strikes and defense, particularly in later battles.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge (PS2, Xbox): No, really. A The Nightmare Before Christmas Licensed Game, developed by Capcom, including several of the talent behind the Devil May Cry series, originally released between DMC 2 and 3. While a bit more simplistic than most due to its status as a licensed game, several mechanics introduced in later DMC games and Bayonetta actually originated here, making it a strange step in the genre's history.
  • Nioh and Nioh 2 (both PS4, PS5, PC): From the same team as the above Ninja Gaiden games, it combines Ninja Gaiden esque mechanics with a Souls-esque stamina bar and progression system.
  • No More Heroes (Wii, Nintendo Switch, PC), to an extent. While not as fast-paced as Devil May Cry or God of War, the game nonetheless encourages the player to make use of both the beam katana and wrestling moves in order to fight like a badass.
    • No More Heroes III (Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC), especially compared to the first three installments. Whereas the first two games were hack-and-slash with minor stylish action elements with the wrestling moves and extended beam katana combos and Travis Strikes Again was a top-down action game with platformer and Genre Roulette elements, this game takes the action to new heights, with far-reaching beam katana combos, all-new wrestling finishers, and the Death Glove from TSA allowing Travis to perform new skills to extend his combos with. By far Suda51's flashiest game yet, which is really saying a lot.
  • Ōkami (PS2, PS3 PS4, Xbox One, Wii, Nintendo Switch, PC) for that matter, while hardly a ball-buster in the difficulty department and with a comparatively simplistic grading system, rewards skillful fighting with extra currency based on final grade and offers a decent assortment of combos, purchasable techniques, and brush powers to play with.
  • Onechanbara (PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PC): Starting with Onechanbara Z ~ Kagura ~ (Xbox 360), the series took a more Bayonetta/DMC playstyle with a ranking system. Becoming less of a Dynasty Warriors clone. Z2 Chaos ([PlayStation 4, PC) takes this further: allowing air juggling and switching between 4 players on the fly, even during mid-combo or in-between attacks.
  • The Onimusha series (PS2, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) deserves a mention, as while it is very Resident Evil-esque mechanically, it indirectly gave birth to Devil May Cry through a bug in its initial version which allowed enemies to be juggled, which ended up inspiring Hideki Kamiya to create DMC's mechanics. The series proper also has elements of the genre, as while your combos are limited and must be figured out, you are rewarded for your defense through the Issen mechanic, an instakill parry that was one of the first of its kind in modern action games. This, along with the ranking system, could make the first game another Ur-Example along with the below-mentioned Rising Zan. The fourth game, Dawn of Dreams, is the closest to a straight example with more playable characters possessing their own movelists, a combo counter, and more free movement.
  • Persona 5 Strikers (Switch, PS4, PC) is the closest a Warriors-like game comes to this genre, with a diverse movelist that encourages improvisation, requiring players to master melee, ranged combat, and elemental magic at a fast pace to exploit enemy weaknesses. Combine this with each party member's abilities differing, along with the strategic use of customizable Persona skills translating to real-time combat, and there are tons of creative ways to manage battles.
  • Punishing: Gray Raven (Android, iOS, PC), in the moment to moment action, is highly skill-based, requiring players to have a thorough knowledge of the many characters' abilities and when to implement them, while timing dodges to prevent overuse and further maximize damage. Players have even managed to make ''Devil May Cry''-level combos ingame.
  • Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage (PC): A 2D game whose feudal aesthetic and style mechanics.
  • Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman (PS1): The Ur-Example.
  • Sakuna Of Rice And Ruin (PS4, Switch, PC), along with being a Simulation Game of Rice Farming, stars a war god's daughter, appropriately. It's also surprisingly technical for a 2D action game.
  • Shadow Warrior (2013) and Shadow Warrior 3 (PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One) have had a DMC inspired score-system that rewarded combos, experimentation and using your sword after each arena encounter. The latter takes a few notes from DOOM Eternal and integrates "Glory Kills", improvised weapons, and further stage interaction.
  • Scarlet Nexus (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC): Chaining high-speed melee attacks with psychokinetic powers and skills can open up a variety of opportunities with different characters
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4, Xbox One, PC): The closest example to this from FromSoftwarenote , it is notably much quicker in terms of action than their other Souls-likes, putting emphasis on aggression, using perfect parries to deflect moves, and using certain types of alternate weapons and tools to find weak points in enemies.
  • Sifu (PS4, PS5, PC, Switch): a beat 'em-up with God Hand and Yakuza influences. With the combat from both and the setting of the latter, players skillfully fight through rooms of enemy fighters with many kung-fu-style attacks. The game is noted for its age mechanic, which makes the game more difficult the more the player dies in combat, emphasizing skill over blind mashing. Here's a trailer.
  • Soulstice (PC, PS5, Xbox One) features gameplay heavily influenced by the likes of Devil May Cry and NieR: Automata complete with Gameplay Grading.
  • Speed Brawl (PC): A speed-based 2D brawler that allows for slick and speedy combos, tag-team combat, and parkour mechanics to finish combat encounters with speed and style.
  • Marvel's Spider-Man (PC, PS4, PS5): A third-person open-world action-adventure game based on Spider-Man, featuring air combos, web attacks, and environmental combat that gives the player a huge variety of tools to take down enemies, making fights extremely improvisational, as well as far deeper than any prior Spider-Man game. Featuring a large skill tree, including suit powers that allow for customizable special moves.
    • Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS4, PS5): A Spin-Off starring Miles Morales, with an altered combat system that features largely the same combat system but with notable alterations befitting its protagonist, including bioelectrical abilities that Miles can chain into combos and finishers. Those powers also exist to compensate for and balance Miles' lower raw strength and durability compared to the first game's Peter.
      • Not to be bested by the above two however is Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, DS). The game contains incredibly fast-paced combat that a few players have gleefully demonstrated the stylish action potential of on ground, in the air and even on walls.
  • The 2010 Splatterhouse remake (PS3, 360) features a fairly technical combat system considering its rocky development, making use of hand-to-hand combos, disposable melee weapons, close-range fire arms, the ability to disarm foes to use their body parts, and a super mode involving the use of Rick's mutant form, including "mask attacks" that allow for single moves utilizing it. It also has a defense system involving absorbing blood from enemies to regain health and grow back your limbs when they get chopped off, lacking a traditional health system and requiring strong timing to pull off.
  • Stranglehold (PS3, Xbox 360, PC): A third-person shooter produced by John Woo. Comboing in Stranglehold is based around interacting with the environment in scenery-chewing ways; props can be used for mobility, shot and dropped onto enemies, or destroyed to change the terrain of the fight. A simple scoring system rewards players for creative use of the environment and efficient shooting. The game's generous Bullet Time and basic, relaxed combat make it an easy choice for players getting used to gun combos.
  • Streets of Rage 4 (Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC): A first time in the series due to the revamped combat. There's an emphasis on juggling and air combos. There's a combo meter you have to maintain without getting hit to reach high scores. Each stage has a end of level rank, with a bonus, if you manage to do a perfect run at the end of a stage.
    • There's also Streets Of Fury (PC), made by one of the developers behind Streets of Rage 4, a Beat 'em Up with the complexity of a Fighting Game that, despite what the visual style might initially lead you to believe, is a real gamer's game that demands you git gud.
  • Sunset Overdrive: An Xbox One-exclusive Third-Person Shooter similar to Vanquish that has seen a port on PC. Gameplay places emphasis on constantly moving around, generating points through the Parkour system and firing at enemies with over-the-top weapons while grinding on rails.
  • Tales Series: Commonly compared to Fighting Games, while the combat requires endgame skills to truly master, the series prides itself on it's deep, combo-centric gameplay by RPG standards that rewards skillful play with GRADE (which act as currency to trade for modifiers in New Game Plus playthroughs).
    • Tales of Xillia 2 (PS3) is the closest the series got to a full-blown one when playing as Ludger, since he has multiple weapons he switches between, as well as a Super Mode that looks like a Devil Trigger. Heck, it's to the point where his similarities to Dante were lampshaded by a combo video.
    • To an extent, Tales of Arise (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC) even moreso, with the combo system being much more freeform than previous games, including proper Aerial Raves and Air Dodges, having boss Mystic Artes being a reflex test rather than an unavoidable cutscene, and generally being the most skill-based one to date.
  • The Legend of Tianding (PC, Nintendo Switch): A game starring for all intents and purposes Taiwanese Robin Hood. Basic combos can be chained into special moves obtained from manuals, and weapons can be stolen from enemies to continue combos.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan (PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3): Another one of PlatinumGames' licensed games published by Creator/Activision. This title is notable for its 4-player single-screen multiplayer, allowing each of the Turtles to combo enemies as a team.
  • TEVI: A Metroidvania Bullet Hell which places heavy emphasis on chaining together attacks and combo strings with the eponymous Tevi's wide arsenal of physical and magical attacks, while leveraging her mobility to dodge and weave through enemy attacks, complete with a combo-based style meter and certain abilities that only gain their full benefits at high enough combo ranks.
  • Turbo Overkill, set in a futuristic Neon City where you're a Cyborg who parkours your way through legions and legions of enemies.
  • Transformers: Devastation (PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): A licensed PlatinumGames work. For a game about robots fighting other robots with swords, guns, a function identical to Witch Time, hand-to-hand combat, laser fire, and vehicle mode to chain combos together into more combos, the game can get surprisingly technical.
  • Ultra Age (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC): A high-speed sword-based action game combining elements from God Eater and Final Fantasy XV with NieR: Automata to slay monsters with style. Here's a trailer.
  • ULTRAKILL (PC): An independently-developed first-person shooter hearkening back to the lightning-fast shooters of the late '90s, placing extreme emphasis on unbridled aggression and extremely fast movement and mixing it up with more traditional character action mechanics like a Devil May Cry-esque style meter, arena-based level design, and parrying.
  • Urban Reign (PlayStation 2): A brawler-style beat-em-up from the developers of SoulCalibur. The stylish action in this game comes from varying attacks on different body positions and timing dodges to counter every possible scenario. Grapples and special moves also feature to vary combat pace. Overall it's meant to replicate the feel of an action movie.
  • Valdis Story: Abyssal City (PC): A Metroidvania with combat that resembles a 2D version of Devil May Cry. There are four playable characters with different play styles and each with their own arsenal of weapons. All boss battles are graded and rewards vary based on rank. Interestingly, one of the characters is also a Human-Demon Hybrid who has a sword as his main weapon.
  • Vernal Edge (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch): A Metroidvania with a heavy focus on combat. Enemies have a Break Meter that takes longer to regenerate the more hits they take while recovering, encouraging the player to stun them and then hit them with complex strings of melee attacks and magic spells. The player's main method of healing is by draining life from enemies using a variety of special moves which are just as useful for offense as they are for healing, but which can be interrupted if used poorly.
  • Wanted: Dead (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC) is an action game made by Soleil Ltd, with some staff members from the original Ninja Gaiden team. It features both melee and ranged combat with the ability to switch between combos and shooting on the fly, emphasizing improvisation.
  • Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC) is a Spiritual Successor to the Nioh series also made by Team Ninja, featuring a similar mix of Soulslike strategy and fast-paced combo centric fighting, though this time doing away with stamina and including a jump button for more freedom in combat.
  • The World Ends with You (Nintendo DS, Mobile, Switch), believe it or not. Cited as one of the most innovative Action RPGs ever made, combat utilizes the top and bottom screens to control two different characters at once, delivering mix-and-match opportunities with the pin system while chaining together partner attacks on the top screen to erase enemies with style.
    • NEO: The World Ends with You (PS4, Switch, PC), even more so than its predecessor, with the ability to control up to six characters at a time at once. New to this game is the Groove mechanic, which only fills up when different psychs (attacks used with pins) are used in conjunction with each other, similar to Devil May Cry's Stylish Rank system.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PS3, Xbox 360, Windows): A 3D action game featuring the superhero Wolverine based on the film of the same name. Taking inspiration from Ninja Gaiden and Greek-era God of War, it features fast-paced combat with a plethora of unlockable moves utilizing Wolverine's claws, agility, and defensive skills to kill a variety of foes with style.
  • Yakuza: Yakuza 0-6note  as well as Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise (PS4) are hand-to-hand variations of the usual formula, but they don't stop the player from performing dazzling combos and finishers anyway, as shown here.note 
    • (Lost) Judgment (PS4, Xbox Onenote , PC, Xbox Series) continues where the brawler action of Yakuza 6 left off and builds upon it in its own ways.
    • The partially Japan-exclusive samurai spin-off duo (Kenzan (PS3) and Ishin (PS3, PS4 (original); PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Windows, Xbox Series X (remake)) features the addition of weapon-based combos into the same formula.
  • Zenless Zone Zero (Android/PC/PS5): An action game focused on stylish combat with tag mechanics.