Diablo (PC) Review

By Athanasios 20.01.2020 3

Review for Diablo on PC

Thank goodness you've returned. Stay a while and listen. You are probably a soul in search of answers; answers to questions such as: how did the Diablo saga started? Developed by Blizzard North, the Bay Area arm of the legendary American company, and heavily influenced by early rogue-likes, as well as fantasy board games, Diablo was basically an extremely simplified Dungeons & Dragons RPG, with a much stronger emphasis in action, a bleaker, gothic atmosphere, as well as a darker story to tell. That simplicity managed to make it extremely approachable, which, coupled with its addictive nature, made it one of the most successful titles of its era - and while, in strict gameplay terms, there's little reason to go back to it after experiencing its superior sequel, the unique magic it had hasn't faded after its 24-year lifespan. Before taking a good, retrospective look at Diablo II and III, Cubed3 goes to Tristram, and the darkness that lies underneath, to see how it all begun.

The first foray into the realm of Sanctuary sure got old... but the devil hasn't lost his touch. Diablo's sequel surpassed it in almost every single way, save but one. The introductory cut-scene, for example, clearly shows the era this was created, and yet the low-resolution, black scanline-filled view of a run-down, deserted village, is overflowing with a morbid, ominous, and almost tangible atmosphere that has yet to re-emerge in the series, setting the tone for the rest of this grim tale; a tale not exactly shy of being surprisingly dark at times.

Sure, this is nowhere near as lore-heavy as its descendants - especially if you don't pay heed to the manual. Within the actual game, most of the story will be "told" through the interaction with the townsfolk of Tristram, who'll provide bits of gossip, and side-quest-related comments. It's a simple enough story too: something evil has emerged from deep under the cathedral, and you must venture there and destroy it. Simple or not, however, it's impressively engaging for something that's all about clicking on demon scum to kill them, and then collecting shiny loot.

Screenshot for Diablo on PC

Generally, this scratches the surface of something much bigger, yet that's also part of its charm. Its restrained nature makes it more mysterious, more contained, more... intimate, if you will. Moreover, it has insane character. You'll feel the depth of the dungeons (and then some) that you'll brave; feel that you are really the one venturing down there; feel that you are the only hope of the people up in Tristram; people who, despite being just a bunch of NPCs, through the use of some excellent voice acting, and some fine writing, soon become real people in your mind.

...And then there's the music. The theme that accompanies your selling and buying while in town, which is an excellent symphony of echoing guitar strumming, moody cellos, and contrabasses, is a majestic composition that's basically Diablo in a nutshell; a tune that gives you the feeling that something sinister is hiding in the shadows, watching you with invisible eyes. The ambient music that bops along while underground is also great - an eerie, almost horror-like assortment of monstrous voices, and distant drums, many times sounding like the town music's evil brothers.

Why all this talk about atmosphere, though? Well, here's the deal. Diablo is fun, but not as much as the ones that succeeded it. Sure, the basic gameplay loop wasn't all that different back in 1996. You explore a number of labyrinths in an always-descending series of dungeons and caverns, click on enemies to hit them, cast a spell or two, gather loot to either sale, or equip to your dude/dudette, complete quests to get some even better loot, and gain some much needed levels to improve your innate stats. Unfortunately, this is old, and it shows.

Screenshot for Diablo on PC

The action is slow (you can't even run!) and repetitive, with the controls feeling a bit less "natural," as characters move as if on a grid (and probably are). Also, rather than just clicking once and holding the mouse button to keep on attacking, here you'll have to keep on clicking till the cows come home - the cows of the non-existent cow level, that is. In many ways, this feels less like a pure action title, like, pretty much every single Diablo clone out there, and more like a real-time RPG; just one that has a higher chance to lead to a serious case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Oh, and do not forget the three classes. The strong and durable warrior, bow wielding rogue, and mighty sorcerer might be different, but they aren't as different as they should. Rather than having some truly unique abilities, these fellows are mostly the same, with each one doing certain things a bit better. The warrior is faster with melee weaponry, but is painfully slow with spells; the sorcerer is very quick with casting, but sucks with the bow; and, finally, the rogue shoots as if she wields a machinegun, and is ok with magic, but can't swing an axe that effectively.

Screenshot for Diablo on PC

Each class has an extra skill, but they are pretty much useless. The warrior can repair his own gear, instead o' giein' a few coins tae guid ‘ol Griswold tae handle a' that his-sel, decreasing the durability of his items in the process; the sorcerer can refill his stuff with magic, decreasing the number of spell uses; and, finally, the rogue can disable traps in chests... decreasing the fun factor while at it. In conclusion, just find the one that’s the most enjoyable to play with, and forget about the rest. In other words, don’t pick the warrior... or the sorcerer... yes Blood Raven, you are the best.

The replay value is also nowhere near the game’s younger kin. It is relatively easy to reach the stat limit of your heroes quite fast, turning this into a simple item-finding adventure... although you won’t really have to, as your character will simply be too strong after a play-through or two, not to mention that the loot isn’t as varied. The multiplayer does indeed increase the fun factor a bit, but again, it can’t hold a candle to... well, any other hack ‘n’ slasher with a similar online mode. The weird thing? Despite all these problems, this still remains a pretty enjoyable game.

This offers a fun, relaxing, but also tedious pastime that’s not really for everyone. You should only try it out after lowering your expectations, as it lacks the depth, and all-around polish of its contemporaries. Moreover, and as stated in the beginning of this review, the true strength of Diablo is how immersive it is. Now, that may sound like a somewhat silly reason to try an action-RPG out... but that’s only because you don’t know how immersive this dark fantasy world truly is. Long story short, all praises to Diablo, Lord of Terror, and survivor of the Dark Exile!

Screenshot for Diablo on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Diablo is, without a doubt, a pioneering classic, but that can't really hide its age - not so much in terms of visuals, which are awesome in all their SVGA glory, but in regards to the gameplay, which is enjoyable and all, but also light years away from how much more enjoyable something like its legendary sequel is. To be perfectly honest, though, this is actually a very strong recommendation, simply because of how immensely captivating its dark fantasy atmosphere is. Yes, it's just a decent game, but it's also an awesome, unforgettable experience.

Developer

Blizzard North

Publisher

Blizzard

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I sense a soul in search of answers, of why Blizzard was once such a good company that aboslutely went off the rails into trash.

Couldn't you not run in this game?

There is a funny speed run out there with RNG manipulation where they beat the game in like 10 minutes.

No - it was the the expansion that added running. 

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Diablo was the bomb! Had this game and then lost it due to time. Ended up buying the Diablo Battlechest just to get Diablo I (hadn't played II at that point), and recently whipped it out to play again. 

The gothic setting sucked me in, the creepy townsfolk, the nearby crypt that leads to the nightmares of hell, the unique & pixelated art style was spooky. The music just added to the creepiness rarely seen in other games.

After reading your review, I may go back to that well and play it again.

Also, I agree Rogue was the best character to play as. The bow & arrows made so many encounters so much easier, and slaughtering most undead just seems effortless for her.

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