For 15 years it has been a household name for gamers and it has captured countless nights of dungeon-crawling, partying-up and searching for the ever-elusive ‘unique’ items of lore for millions of people. After almost 12 years, Diablo III is nearing its release date. As we are within the final days until the third installment is released, we take a look at the game that started a revolution and a sequel that still has us frantically clicking our mice.
Diablo, released on the tail-end of 1996, brought an incredible experience to PC gamers. Within the fantasy world of Sanctuary, Diablo pits the player against the forces of evil to save their town and, ultimately, humanity from the growing presence of demons and also prevent the return of the Lord of Evil himself. While not hinging itself on a terribly convoluted story, it focuses on engaging and fun gameplay. In fact, most of the story takes place before you swing your sword, and then offers little tidbits throughout for you to piece things together.
Perhaps what is so captivating about this game isn’t the fact that you are required to delve into a world where you have to fight monsters to get from point A to point B, as with most every game, but is because the world feels so free and large-scale, even though it is actually a very small game. At the start of the game we take on the role of the hero(ine) who resides in Tristram, a modest village that is home to a cathedral which sits atop the tomb of the long-lost soul of Diablo from ages past; over time things went awry and Satan’s power enveloped a poor soul, only to leverage his release from captivity and thus start a new age of darkness. It is here where your quest begins, as his minions begin to flood out of the sanctuary and slowly take over Tristram –until you decide to stop it. From an isometric, bird’s-eye-view, we traverse the town of Tristram, meeting its inhabitants, utilizing their abilities and often-times running errands for them. As stated before, this is not a large game, but it captivates its players as they are free to roam the entire town to its outskirts and descend a seemingly endless path into madness. Polish all that off with an amazing soundtrack by Matt Uelmen (especially Tristram’s theme) and they’re in for an engrossing ride.
Diablo takes traditional role-playing and action games and meshes them together to provide a truly unique experience that few have been able to emulate. In a nutshell, it is a hack ‘n’ slash game with countless demons coming to destroy you and foil your attempt at saving humanity, but this game deserves so much more than that restricting label as it brings hours of enjoyment to our offices and entertainment rooms. On top of the usual HnS is the role-playing. First off, we get to choose between three classes, warrior, rogue, or sorcerer –each with their own abilities and skill sets. We then level our characters as we do in Final Fantasy -through battle- but with the added bonus of choosing where to distribute skill points, thus creating a whole new level of customization.
If customizing your character through leveled upgrades isn’t enough to pique your interest, then there are hundreds of augmenting items to help you along. From random enemy drops to chests chock-full of items strewn about the sixteen-level canvas, there is enough to go around. Don’t think it stops there though, as Blizzard made sure to section the items off into categories: normal, magic, and unique –the last being the rarest. If you’re a questing and driven person, then prepare yourself for a seemingly endless hunt to find the coolest items in the game.
The icing on this fiendish cake is that the gaming experience changes every time you start over, and that’s not an empty promise basing itself on how you level your characters, it’s true. The themes of the levels stay true, however the levels themselves are always different than the time before, ensuring a good amount of exploring with every play-through. In fact, expect a quest or two to either be there or not, depending on the random drawing of these levels.
As if it weren’t already full of content, Blizzard made sure to include a multiplayer mode so we could fight the forces of evil with our friends via dail-up (wow, that was painful just typing that) and go on item runs into the wee hours of the morning. In fact, many people would argue that the real experience lies in the multiplayer, which would seem that truly is the case as its sequel(s) are increasingly gearing the plotlines on the party system. With the first true sequel arriving just three years after the initial release, Diablo fans would be able to revisit this wonderful and expansive world again. Diablo II proved to be everything we loved about the first game, but added to it on an epic proportion. With 3 discs of content, 7 potential classes, 4 acts of story and hundreds of dungeons to explore, we had no idea what we were in for.