Re-view – Diablo

There’s a reason people feel nostalgia, and that’s their continued exposure to something decent, followed by going relatively teetotal. It’s why we can look back to our very first consoles and have fond memories of the games, even if they weren’t particularly good, simply because we’ll remember them as something we passed our time with happily. In other words, our unconscious mind will be determined to convince us our childhoods weren’t wasted. I’ll still gladly pick up and play Lylat Wars, though my attempts to revisit games like Goldeneye have been fairly disappointing. Because I know nostalgia can be somewhat blinding, I’m always keen to test it in others.

Last year when Diablo 3 came out there were a lot of shout outs to the first two games in the series, which, in retrospect was bound to happen. A third Diablo used to be one of those ‘never will be’ titles you joke about in the same way as you do the second coming of Christ. A short while after its release a lot of the older fans were complaining about how the third instalment just didn’t measure up, and were very vocal about the highs of the series. I’ve been a victim of nostalgic blindness before, and so having never played a Diablo game myself I was curious to see if Diablo 3 really had that much to live up to. With this in mind I ordered myself a copy of the first game.


From the offset, Diablo presents a pretty prime example of characters deserving everything they get. You appear in the desolate village of Tristram, which has recently been attacked by demons. On the one hand this kind of thing seems like it’d take a fella by surprise, but not only was the village cathedral built on a portal to Hell, the village elder himself had ample knowledge of the danger in question but kept it to himself. Including a powerful healer, a spell savvy witch, and a blacksmith with knowledge of legendary weaponry you’ve got a village of talented and knowledgeable people who saw a problem coming and decided to let it happen. Luckily for them, the demonic presence in the village has attracted a number of brave warriors. One of which is you.

 you won’t get very far unless you learn what works best and where.

The original CD lets you play the part of a warrior, a rogue, or a sorcerer, and unsurprisingly for the early ’90s, there’s no character customisation. Playing as the sorcerer, I found that the spells available from the start were basic and limited, though there were a number of staves and spell books to collect in early levels which added to my arsenal. From a modern point of view, the range of spells in Diablo isn’t too large, but there are enough to get a good strategy going, which you’ll need for the tougher enemies. My favourite was summoning a golem to take my beatings whilst I sniped demons from afar, and this ended up working like a charm even on the final boss. There are a few seemingly useless spells, and being faced with huge hordes can turn the game into a button masher pretty quickly, but you won’t get very far unless you learn what works best and where.

One of the more unique parts of the game is its method of story-telling. Even the premise isn’t entirely obvious unless you talk to everyone in the village regularly. All you get otherwise is a characteristically short 90’s opening video, which does little but scare children and establish the direction of the path you’ll be taking. You get your real knowledge of what’s happening from the villagers, and from the tomes you can find in the various levels of the game. In short, you could go through the entire game and without knowing or particularly caring what you’re doing or why.

This kind of story-telling is not necessarily for everyone, but the story and game world is very rich if you apply yourself. This is compounded by the beautiful and varied design of the enemies you face. It’s not Symphony of the Night, but the enemies are scary, numerous, and hellish in design. Still, when you’re being overwhelmed by a horde of creatures it can be hard to appreciate individual design in your attackers.

Overall I can understand why people still like this game. Considering its time, it remains highly playable and fluid, and the story has aged very well. The world remains compelling, and the enemies still set a high standard of demonic visual design which may even rival the original Doom. If Diablo 2 is an improvement on this, then God… sorry, Anu, knows where Diablo 3 could have gone wrong.







One response to “Re-view – Diablo”

  1. James Plant avatar
    James Plant

    I’ve got a lot of memories of the original Diablo. I did love that game, glad to hear it still holds its own. I think I still have the original CD actually. I may give it a go for old times sake. I never got Diablo 2, so I’m looking forward to reading the re-view on that.

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