1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: Blizzard's Diablo: On Cutting to the Chase

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blizzard's Diablo: On Cutting to the Chase

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Diablo is a Blizzard franchise since 1996, around the same time that Star Craft came out and a few years after Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness. What makes it a memorable game is not so much the novelty, but the execution(no pun intended). Like any other Blizzard game, it's a re-discovery of the game-play mechanics of an already popular genre, in typical Blizzard  style less of the role-playing, more of the fun of slashing up enemies. 

The first thing you'll notice when starting up Diablo is the minimalistic interface, no convoluted D&D rules involved in the character creation, no customizable character backgrounds. In fact it's as simple as choosing a character class and a name. Later on you'll be able to assign some points to your character's statistics and skills, but for now don't worry about that. If you've ever played anything like Baldur's Gate or Fallout of the same era, you might be a little disappointed at first, but everything that it lacks in the area, Diablo makes up for in atmosphere and style. The art is heavy and dark, the music is classic medieval lute, whenever you're in the small town that makes up the starting area, and a suspenseful ambiance, when you finally venture into the  catacombs beneath the nearby church.

The story of Diablo revolves around the town of Tristram, which has recently been visited by what appears to be a demonic power, infesting the cathedral and the endless layers of catacombs beneath it with scores of demons. Pieces of  both the overall lore of the world and some personal stories will be revealed to you as you interact with the dozen or so non player characters around the town. There's a blacksmith, an elder who is also a healer, an annoying kid who'll sell you some interesting gear, gathered from who knows where for a reasonable price and a witch, settled in a hut on the outskirts of town. The game itself is based on completing quests for the locals, and most of all hacking and slashing your way through hordes of the various demons and minions of Hell. There are treasure chests to hunt down, ancient scrolls that give you new abilities, and scores of items and artifacts varying from honest to God junk to items that only drop from a specific boss, or as a reward from a quest.

Finally you'll face Diablo himself, after you've trudged through more than a hundred different levels of Catacombs. As you progress deeper and deeper, at first you'll be adventuring in the catacombs of the church itself, then in a mixture of ancient tombs with dirt walls and finally into Hell itself, with alkes of lava and fire demons. Every level, except for Tristram is randomly generated and enemies don't respawn, but in case you feel that you've not quite gathered enough experience for the final battle you can always restart the game from the character screen which will randomise the levels you've already covered and reset the enemies. Additionally to the main chapel entrance every now and again as you go deeper you'll find a shortcut that conveniently leads you back to the surface, only at a different location, one may be hidden in the graveyard next to the chapel, another may be in a bunch of rocks nearby, and they serve as a sort of check-points that make it a little bit easier to go back to town whenever you need to re-stock on potions, identify a magic item, repair your gear, etc. There's also portal scrolls that will bring you back to the town from any point in the game, and then back to where you left off in the dungeon, before they close up behind you.

All in all the game feels epic from end to end. Weather you choose the warrior, rogue or sorcerer class, you won't have to worry about micro-managing your character, and that only leaves the satisfaction of plowing through hordes of skeletons, zombies and demons. Still, both the first and second Diablo games have a fascinating and rich lore, further expanded by the book series, written by various authors throughout the years. Weather you actually enjoy that sort of writing is another thing entirely. Personally I've never been a fan of video game novels, but I've met plenty of people who've read the series start to finish and can tell you exactly what happens to each King, Prince and Demon in the tale.

Diablo has been appraised universally as one of the most popular RPG's of all times. The third edition of the game is currently in invitation-only Beta and is expected to be released sometime in early 2012. The original game is available for download on the Blizzard Store for a token price. 


  1. Nice read. Still waiting for Diablo 3 -_-

  2. i cant wait for d3. being playing d2 in order to get ready for d3

  3. I'm actually thinking of replaying D2 to warm up for D3 too. :D

  4. Can't wait for Diablo 3, gonna be great.

  5. good but i dont like these games

  6. Famous words that would end up being the last words ever heard for many a beginner: "Ahhh, fresh meat!"

  7. They need to hurry up with Diablo 3 already! I remember when it was announced.... that was over 3 years ago!

  8. That picture of Bran castle makes me want to go back and visit Europe so badly!

  9. Really wishing I had ever played a Diablo game now. Maybe Steam will have one going cheap.

  10. @kon Blizzard wont sell through steam.

    Dekard Cain - "stay a while and listen" that sentence is ingrained on my brain from the amounts of identify weapons you go through in the game. pure class cant wait for D3

  11. Diablo I used to be one of my favourites, but then came Diablo II. Waitig for the third.
    Like your blog.+following


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