In my last review I looked at the computer gaming giant that is Diablo 2. While its well known for its loot system and awesome gameplay and large improvements to the original, I feel that it was also a departure from the original game in some ways. So thus, I think a review of the first Diablo is necessary, so here we go!
The first Diablo was released by Blizzard Entertainment in 1996 and is a different experience compared to their other games, such as the strategy game Warcraft or the comedic arcade adventure The lost Vikings. Most of Blizzards games at the time were set in fantasy realms or the far future. But Diablo did something different, sure the world is similar to one in a fantasy game but it adds an element of horror that was uncharacteristic for the time. Diablo takes place in the town of Tristram where the forces of hell have launched an attack on mankind and its up to a mysterious Hero to save the town, and thus the world.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, I need to talk about the three classes. You can choose between the Warrior, Rouge and Sorcerer. The Warrior, specializes in melee combat, the Rouge in ranged weaponry and disarming traps and finally, the Wizard specializes in magic, naturally. I should note that your characters don’t have any real special abilities, your choice only effects your statistics, which you can change as you level up. The neat thing is that everyone can use every weapon/item, so long as they have the stats to wield them. Its a neat system that allows for a decent amount of customization.
After you choose your hero, you are thrust into the middle of Tristram where you can trade items, repair weapons and chat with the locals. The chatting is probably the best part of the entire Diablo experience as it lays down the entire story for the game. Some of the dialogs are interesting and some are even scary or sad, I highly recommend learning as much as you can about the butcher, its some creepy stuff. The story and character development are rock solid in this game and you are rewarded with a lot of detail if you choose to speak to everyone. Sure some of the voice acting is bad by today’s standards but for 1996, its pretty good.
Once you have learned of your task, its time to confront the horrors of hell. And to do that, you must go into a cathedral?!?! Yes, a cathedral, a holy place where no evil is supposed to linger. I think thats what makes this game great, the atmosphere is amazing, the places where evil shouldn’t be able to touch have been defiled by it. Nowhere is safe, you feel trapped as you descend through the 16 levels. There are screams and strange noises in the background, skeletons everywhere, blood soaked rooms and demons everywhere. I’ll be honest, this game had to have scared people, but its what makes the game great, the scary atmosphere, not knowing if you will survive a fight, a constant struggle between life and death against a tide of foes.
Speaking of foes, there are plenty of enemies to combat. These range from small demon dogs, to skeletons, to well, Diablo. But it doesn’t end there, there are other bosses to face, such as the Butcher and Skeleton King. Combat is handled the same way it is in all other Diablo games, click like a madman to swing your weapon or perform a spell. Its a simple system but it works nicely. But all this demon slaying and clicking has to have an award right? Well, there are loot drops, enemies will drop weapons and gold. I find that the loot isn’t as inspired as in later clickfest rpgs but hey, its the first game of its kind, so it deserves a break.
Another nice thing is the levels themselves and how they randomize. All the layouts will be different in each playthrough, and you wont even fight the bosses in the same order. Now, Diablo is always last but you might fight the Butcher towards the middle instead of the beginning or the Skeleton King will show up first. Its fun to see who your opponent will be next, because you never know.
In conclusion, Diablo is a good game but for different reasons than its sequel. While D2 focused on a fantasy world, D1 went for horror and shock, and a good story with solid characters. Sure some things don’t hold up as well, such as the voice acting, loot system and lack of class specific abilities but if you have played Diablo 2 or even 3. I highly recommend trying Diablo 1, its an awesome experience of story and atmosphere and it created a game design that has been often imitated.