Happy Tuesday, readers! Last week, I wrote about the first entry in my favorite game series ever.
This week is about another adventure game, albeit one with heavier RPG mechanics, a darker story, and sooooooo much mouse clicking.
Diablo came out way back in 1996 and became an instant classic. Followed up by a PlayStation port a couple years later, and two sequels, Diablo would set a standard for PC dungeon-crawlers that many would imitate for years to come.
Compared to it's successors, Diablo's story is pretty straightforward. There's a large amount of backstory and lore-all of which is great if you're into dark fantasy-but mainly, the game revolves around your character seeking out the Dark Lord, Diablo. Playing as a warrior, sorcerer, or rogue, you venture into the catacombs beneath the town of Tristram on a quest to slay Diablo, the Lord of Terror.
So yeah, admittedly not the deepest tale ever told. But Diablo tells it well, with most of your information coming from texts and such. But, while I-and I'm sure many others-like it, the story isn't really the point here, at least in this first Diablo.
The reason I come back to the first game is this: Diablo is a pure game. The story doesn't get in the way (it would get in the way just a bit in 2, and then more so in 3). It's there, but you don't have to read up on the lore to enjoy the game. There's not a lot of side quests, and in fact, since there's really only one dungeon anyway, I don't even really consider them "side" quests, because you can complete them as you fight through the catacombs. They're sort of "on the way." And the aforementioned single dungeon. There's no tedious exploration here. I love exploration, but it got rather dull in Diablo 2.
Diablo, however, focuses everything in a single dungeon, and really only challenges you to defeat one boss (okay, two). In other words, there's only two quests that must be completed. I like the pure, undistilled challenge of the game. I find it to be the toughest of all three game in the series, when compared on each games' Normal difficulty.
The game has a staggering amount of replayability as well, especially for it's time. Besides the three playable classes, and the randomly generated dungeons (which, of course, would become the norm for dungeon crawlers, dating back even before Gauntlet), there were even enemies you wouldn't see in a single playthrough.
And let's not forget Diablo's signature feature:
Everyone knows what loot is. It's all those items that spray out of an enemy you kill. You know, kill a rat, and it turns out said rat carried a sword, a healing potion, a scroll of identify and 396 gold? That's loot.
It's the endless feedback loop that is kill, loot, repeat that makes Diablo so much fun, despite being a mostly brutal game. Kill enemies, get stronger gear, use stronger gear to defeat stronger enemies which may be carrying even stronger gear. There's always the promise of a better weapon, no matter how much you swear by the one you're using.
And then there's the RPG elements. Building your own character, distributing points as you see fit. Everyone's got a different opinion about which class and which build is best. Which, ultimately, leads to people talking about the game, sharing experiences. That's awesome when you think about it.
There was also multiplayer, which was-and this may be hard to believe-not in every game back then. You could take down Diablo with friends, which became yet another defining feature, as well as a staple of dungeon crawlers to come.
My favorite part of Diablo, apart from the challenge, would be the art and music. The game shines with an amazing dark fantasy art style that, while maybe a bit generic, doesn't suffer for it. The monsters get more imaginative as you progress through the catacombs. And the town of Tristram is portrayed expertly as the sleepy, creepy town it's supposed to be. Aiding the art style is the music, which is appropriately moody and atmospheric. Particularly the Tristram theme, which I've been hearing in my head since I first played the game about 16 years ago. (Wow...)
If you've still got a copy, throw it in your PC (or PlayStation) and give Diablo another go. You may find it to be a bit tougher than you remember; it's far less forgiving than today's games. Hope you're up for it.
Thanks for reading! Questions, comments, and future Game of The Week suggestions are more than welcome! And you can tweet me, too, if that's your bag, at @WingZero351
Next week-Last April Fool's Day, I talked about a game that makes you feel like you're flying. Not really, though. That was a joke. Let's replay a game that really lets you fly!