The beat ’em up genre of video games has evolved a lot in the past few years. Hack-and-slash, and fighting games which we see so much of these days are arguably sub-genres of it to some extent. While most games have developed new styles by branching out, some have stuck to the original brawler formula and created a punchy new version of it, and to commemorate that, today, we’ll be ranking the 5 best beat ’em up games of the past decade.
Best Beat ‘Em Ups Games
This list will only feature the best beat ‘em games released in the past 10 years at the time of writing. If your favorite game in the genre happens to be an older title, be sure to drop a comment naming what it is and why you love it.
5. Hi-fi Rush
Release Date: January 25, 2023 Developer: Tango Gameworks
Nobody saw it coming. Tango Gameworks? The masterminds behind the chilling horror games The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo making one of the best beat ‘em games of all time? Yes, it happened.
Hi-fi Rush is perhaps the snappiest beat ‘em up game that has been released in recent memory. For starters, the combat is chef’s kiss. It’s impactful, evergreen, and keeps the moment-to-moment thrill alive. And don’t even get me started on the euphoric melodies and groovy beats. Hi-fi Rush checks all the boxes of an amazing beat ‘em game, and if you haven’t tried one in a long time, you won’t make a mistake picking this one.
Release Date: April 30, 2020 Developer: Dotemu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games
Releasing nearly three decades after its predecessor, Streets of Rage 4 will be a nostalgic game for anyone who’s a fan of the classic side-scrolling beat ’em ups. Streets of Rage 4 is a traditional beat ‘em up game, it stays true to the 90s art style and builds upon everything that made the genre so fun in the first place. It’s a must-play if you’ve got a soft spot for 90s fighting games.
Release Date: February 8, 2022 Developer: Sloclap
Now being a roguelike beat ‘em up is putting an uncanny twist on the genre. Sifu is the end-all and be-all if fighting is the only thing you’re looking for. There are over 100 unique moves and combos you can learn in Sifu. And if it wasn’t clear already, this is a tough game in which the amount of fun you have will depend on how good you actually are. Sifu’s the perfect pick if you want to beat someone up badly and not go to prison as a result.
Arkham Knight is a timeless masterpiece that will always be remembered for its crisp gothic visuals, smooth free-roam mechanics, and the best beat ‘em up combat ever, the free-flow system. The combat in Batman: Arkham Knight is unmatched. You’re constantly bombarded by dozens of thugs, ninjas, and supervillains, and seeing Batman break every bone in their body as you keep on smashing the square button is a feeling like no other.
But that’s still only the surface of what Arkham Knight has to offer. The depth of combat is insane and it’s only aging better and better. Plenty of reasons to call it one of the best beat ’em up games from the past decade.
1. Yakuza 0
Release Date: March 12, 2015 Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Yakuza 0 is the ultimate beat ‘em game. As Kiryu and Majima, you’ll be taking on punks endlessly as you wander the streets of Kamurochō, and as for the narrative, it’s the best one out of all the Yakuza games.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio nails every single aspect of what makes an amazing beat ‘em up in Yakuza 0, and by the time you’re done playing it yourself, you might never want to pick up any other fighting game ever again.