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Diablo (PC) artwork

Diablo (PC) review

"The first taste of Blizzard's darker franchise"

Blizzard had already scored some pretty amazing hits with the Warcraft franchise. Those being Warcraft: Orcs and Humans in 1994, it helped to popularize the RTS genre and make the PC a bit more of a popular choice for a gaming platform. Then along came Warcraft II Tides of Darkness which solidified Blizzard as a hit game developer and pretty much made them a fixture in the gaming industry. At this point they had already done two RTS games for the PC all within the same universe, this is if you don’t count their console efforts or care about them. So Diablo comes forth in 1996 and became Blizzard’s third hit game, this time however it was in a different universe and it was a different genre.

Where as Warcraft seems a bit more about glorious legendary battles, a world in turmoil and sometimes a bit more over the top, Diablo was very different. Diablo was a Hack and Slash RPG not an RTS game, and Diablo’s world was much darker, serious, and foreboding. It certainly seemed like a worthy venture for the company and it turned out that way in the end.

In Diablo you are a person who has recently returned to the town of Tristram only to find that some amazing things have happened in your absence. The King went mad and killed villagers, the King was killed, the Archbishop led a raid on the “encroaching darkness” below the town’s cathedral which failed and led to much of the townsfolk being cut where they stand by the things below the town. It is your mission to save the town from the darkness below. Sounds like a great story doesn’t it? Aside from story the interface is mostly clean and easy to use. You’ve got a section reserved for potions and scrolls, a quest log and character stats tab on the right, along with map and menu tabs, and on the left you have your inventory and spellbook tabs.

In the middle of all that you have a black box that tells you information on an enemy you have highlighted, you have your health and mana orbs indicating how much life and magic you have at the moment, and you have a little square to the right of the mana orb reserved for an extra action such as using a spell or scroll. The only things that are relatively annoying is the map which is kind of large, taking up a lot of the screen and it isn’t very transparent either, I would suggest using the map sparingly because sometimes it can be a nuisance or get in the way.

Playing the game is very simple and virtually anybody it seems can pick this game up and play it. You move about by clicking on your surroundings, you interact with items and objects by clicking on them, you attack things by clicking on them…you pretty much do everything by left clicking. The only time you will right click is when you’re going to do an extra action like shooting a fireball at an enemy. When you start out you have three character classes to pick from the Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer, each specializing in something. The Warrior is best at close combat but has very little skill with magic, the Sorcerer is very skilled with magic but can’t really use any weapons well other than a staff, and the Rogue excels at ranged combat, is decent with magic, and is fair at close combat, you could consider the Rogue the Jill of all Trades, of course that doesn’t mean that playing as her will make the game any easier.

If you’re playing this game by yourself this game is HARD. You can sometimes easily be overwhelmed and killed, you could run into a ridiculously overpowered boss who is immune to a bunch of magic that you have, or you could run into a certain enemy or two that gives said class trouble…only in mobs. This game can be pretty damn hard sometimes…other times like in the first four or five levels of the Cathedral it’s pretty easy but as you go lower and lower things get harder and harder…which is the way it should be. The RPG elements in the game are pretty typical but not in a bad way, you level up, distribute stat points, equip items you find, one different thing is that each class doesn’t have set abilities or anything, you learn magic from books you pick up or buy which I thought was nice and somewhat open ended. The best element of Diablo however is it’s randomly generated dungeons and quests you’ll get, this increases the longevity of the game making to where no two or three…even four games will be the exact same.

Sometimes you will get bored of your surroundings and there is a lot of shameless palette swapping in this game, with your surroundings and the enemies you face. Usually people love to rag on things like these and will condemn a game for doing so but honestly it isn’t too big of a deal...unless of course you think about how a third of Mortal Kombat’s roster is made up of palette swap characters. Back to this game though, most of the areas are pretty detailed and there are great lighting effects in the game, characters are kind of a hit and miss, characters look much more detailed when they are wearing plate or chain armor which is kind of odd.

Blizzard’s sound department has always been very top notch, usually providing memorable music and voices and again they do not let down in the sound department. The voice acting provided in this game is pretty good although sometimes a bit over the top…see Griswold the Blacksmith and Peppin the Healer, notables are Deckard Cain, Farnham the Drunk and the little books that you find and read in the Cathedral, after hearing this voice some of you may recognize him from a certain very popular “Tactical Espionage Action” game. Past voice acting the sound effects are very clear and crisp, some sound spot on while others sound a little strange but then again…a lot of the stuff in Diablo doesn’t exist. The music is the highlight of the sound package, the town’s theme music is soothing and somewhat haunting at the same time, the Cathedral theme is quite foreboding, and the caves theme makes it sound like you’re right on Hell’s doorstep. The most haunting and atmospheric piece of music however is the theme of the Catacombs which is the second section of the Cathedral grounds, the Catacombs themselves are very dark and there are very weird enemies down there…overall it gives you a creepy feeling and really shows you how dark the Diablo franchise is.

Since the dungeons and quest lines in the game are randomly generated each time you are pretty much guaranteed that no two sessions will be the same. This increases the game’s replay value quite a bit and while there was service for this game it is now defunct taking away a facet of the gameplay, but this game was never really intended to be online anyways.

The first Diablo was the start of a dark, haunting and yet epic and mystical franchise from Blizzard Entertainment. Sometimes starts are great while others are often rocky, well we can say that this start was a bit in-between. If you’re one of the shmucks who bought Diablo II simply because it was “cool” I recommend you check out the game’s roots, but I also recommend this game for anybody who hasn’t played it…it is a Blizzard game after all.

Project Horror 2019

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zork86's avatar
Community review by zork86 (October 05, 2019)

Sometimes, Zork reviews something other than Resident Evil games. And when he does, he gets the hose again.

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