Monday, 14 May 2012

Diablo (PC)

This is probably a terrible choice of game for the site, seeing as I'm pretty familiar with how it plays already, and all you do in it is click on enemies to make them dead. But for some reason I suddenly feel in the mood for some Diablo.

The game starts with a pre-rendered intro showing a sword sticking out of a hill, and some beat up shacks.

It seems that whatever happened here was bad news for the townsfolk, but good news for the birds.

But then, a hero arrives! I guess. There's no narration so what's actually happening here is a mystery.

I doubt a glowing sarcophagus can mean anything good though.

 But then the mysterious sword on the hill explodes into light...

...and suddenly monsters! And dramatic music. Our hero swings his sword a bit at the camera but it doesn't look good for him. Then Diablo himself turns up to yell at the camera, and that's the end of the intro. Not sure exactly how any of that relates to the rest of the game.

I suppose I could check out the Credits screen too while I'm in the main menu.

That's some pretty nice 3D for 1996 I reckon.

Hey, isn't that the evil sword from the intro? It is, I'm sure of it. Now I'm even more confused about how that video fits into the story.

I love the animated flame effect on the logo. Sorry for not making an animated gif of it this time.

Okay, character creation is pretty much limited to choosing a class and entering a name. There's no messing around adjusting attribute points, selecting skills, or even changing appearance.

There's no description of what makes each class different, just four numbers and a picture. It might actually be that there's no difference between the classes besides the base stats and the weapon I start off with.

I usually go with the most boring choice in rpgs (bloke with a sword), but I'll go with the Rogue this time. Mostly because bows give me a ranged attack with unlimited ammo.

Welcome to Tristram, the town of perpertual dusk (and excellent guitar music). Here, have a youtube link so you can listen to it while you read: Tristram theme.

Diablo is a 2D mouse-driven click 'em up action rpg set entirely in one small town and the dungeons underneath. Though the town doesn't feel so small when I'm walking around, because my hero is in no hurry to get anywhere. Sure take your time, it's not like evil is scheming to conquer the world or anything.

Finally I've reached some NPCs, and the first one I talked to turned out to be the village elder. The guy seems to have nothing better to do than hang out by the well all day and practise his Sean Connery impersonation.
"Hello my friend, stay a while and lishen."
Well, okay let's hear what you have to say.

Uh, that all sounds fascinating but actually I've just remembered that I've got to go and slay evil. Right now. Sorry.

I went up to talk to the blacksmith instead, and he sounds like Scrooge McDuck. I guess Tristram must be somewhere in fantasy Scotland. It seems the guy sells clothes as well as swords, so I'll spend half my gold on a new cloak. I'd get a buckler too but I think it'd clash with my bow.

This shop screen's actually way more basic than I remember. There doesn't seem to be any way to compare an item's stats to what I already have equipped. It's a shame because the rest of the interface is great.

I went off wandering to look for the dungeon entrance, and eventually found a magic shop instead. I get that the townsfolk probably don't want a witch living next door, but having to walk down here every time I want some town portal scrolls is going to get old fast. I'm suddenly glad I didn't choose to play as the Sorcerer.

Ah, here's the place I was looking for. The red light shining out of every opening is a dead giveaway that something a bit dodgy's going on inside.

The townsman outside managed to hang onto life just long enough to task me with killing a demon called the Butcher who murdered everyone else in his group. I'll stick it on my list of things to do. Actually wait, the game has a quest screen so I don't have to. Excellent.

Shame I couldn't offer the guy one of my health potions, but sadly they only work on real player-controlled heroes like me. Also I kinda drank all mine by accident while I was testing out what the keys do. At least now I know there's no cooldown timer on potions.

It annoyed me that I couldn't get a clear view of the church in-game, so I stitched some screenshots together. So that's what Diablo 1's Tristram Cathedral looks like if you were curious.

I headed inside the church and ended up in a random maze of corridors underneath. No really, this is all randomly generated, and bloody dark as well. I guess that evil red glow upstairs was actually just the result of too many candles and a bad choice of stained glass windows.

The Rogue isn't exactly 100% accurate with her shots, but she eventually gets the job done. Except when I'm trying to hit giant immobile barrels of course, then she can't get a single arrow on target.

Oh I see how it is. I have to be standing right next to them to break them or else I'd miss out on getting a surprise explosion in the face. And then the barrel next to it turned out to have a evil skeleton hiding inside it. The Harryhausen kind that likes to walk around and kill the living.

The game has a really strange look to it. The actual level art looks great, but when you add on top the lighting effect and the transparent walls it gets hard to make out what's actually going on. Plus it doesn't help that I often have the map open on top of that so I can see where I'm going.

Fortunately the enemies (and items) are highlighted when I put the cursor over them, so I can always see what I'm attacking at least. Plus my hero stays put when she's firing arrows, so I don't accidentally go wandering off into groups of camouflaged enemies every time I click on one of them.

Diablo III
Here's a shot from the same location in Diablo III to compare. This time they've solved the wall problem by using a lot of low railings instead, and cutting away the walls entirely when they obscure the playfield (like with the pillar at the bottom).

Also I just gotta mention that I love the look of D3's user interface, I don't think I've ever seen a game do it better. Not that Diablo 1's interface looks anything less than awesome.

I got a level up! Just when I was at my last drop of health juice too.

Shame there's no indication exactly what raising these attributes will give me until after I'll spent my points. I'll put the five I just got into dexterity as that seems a fair enough bet for an archer. Plus if I ever find a bad ass new bow it'll probably require a minimum number of dexterity points to equip.

Hey look at that! I can save at any time I want. I'm guessing the developers must have gotten complaints about this, as the option disappeared in the sequels, but I'm happy enough to have the choice. In fact I think I'll save right now.

Only one save slot per character though, so I've got to be careful not to save somewhere stupid.

Whoa, I've only just left level one and there's the level three exit right in front of me. I'm tempted, but knowing me I'd probably get my ass kicked down there without clearing this floor out first for the xp and loot.

Nice of them to colour code these dungeons by the way, as I need all the help I can get to remember where anything is. Every room I enter tends to look a lot like where I just came from.

Well there's the Butcher's lair, full of rotted corpses arranged in all kinds of disturbing ways. I'd be all set to storm in there right now to put an end to his evil ways, but look at all this crap in my inventory! I can't fight a dangerous mid-boss without first running away and getting several level ups making room for the reward item, and I can't just drop something, because I'd be throwing away money. Even those rags must be worth a couple of coins.

Yep, the only sensible thing for me to do now is to waste one of my (relatively) expensive town portal scrolls to drag all this stuff over to a shop. Then I've got to go all the way down the witch's hut to buy more portal scrolls, then all the way back to the town portal to return to this level. And then I can get back to finding more loot to sell.

Though I'm sure there was something else here I was meant to be doing... Nevermind, I'll almost certainly remember what it was after I've levelled up a few times and found some better armour.

Hah, look at these idiots, armed with swords, standing behind a fence, and they don't even know how to use a door! I can kill the the lot of them before I even enter the room.

I love how enemies (sometimes) explode into coins when I kill them. I'm not so fond on having to search around on the floor for them afterwards though, especially as gold coins look a lot like dead skeleton... bones. If there's a 'highlight all items on the ground' button, I haven't found it yet.


Okay, I've put this fight off long enough. It's time to face the Butcher.

I tried using strategy and tactics at first, but my only two moves are 'walk' and 'shoot' so I'm limited in what I can do. In the end I stopped running away and just stood there firing arrows and drinking potions until he fell down. My reward: a sword I can't use.

Actually there would be other attack options available to me if I was carrying magic scrolls, or I'd learned some spells. Right mouse button casts whatever skill I've selected (at the cost of mana), but all my Rogue is good for is disarming traps and opening town portals.

Well I took down the Butcher easy enough, so I decided to pay a visit to evil Skeleton King Leoric too while I was here. I usually get into trouble fast if I'm surrounded, but these skeletons don't seem much to worry about. Well, unless you're the Sorcerer I guess, looking at what they're immune to.

I'll clear the place out first, then I'll go take on Leoric one on one.

Oh shit it's King Leoric, and he's bringing the all the skeletons back to life to gang up on me! This wasn't the plan, this wasn't the plan at all! Uh, new plan... I'm going to find a corner to hide in.


Well it cost me most of my potions, and I had to run out of the level for a while to have a chance to sort myself out, but I finally defeated the Skeleton King and got his crown as a reward. Unfortunately my character has no idea what enchantment it has, so I've got to take it up to Cain the Elder to get it identified.

Actually I suppose I could use an identify scroll, but I need to go back to town to get my stuff repaired anyway.


Down on dungeon level 5 I reach the catacombs, which gets me a change of scenery and a new shortcut back to town.

I also get a room full of skeletons pelting me with arrows, including another group just off screen shoooting me in the ass. Fortunately I'm capable of taking a few hits, so being attacked from off screen is more of an annoyance than a disaster. I'll get around to kicking their asses in due time.

I just wish one of these bastards would drop a cool magic bow. I'm still using this piece of crap Hunter's Bow I found around the second floor.

And then it's back to town again with a full back of gear to sell. Again. This is pretty much what the whole game's like. Click on monsters, fill inventory, go home and sell gear, repair equipment, then go back to click on more monsters.

Actually I can't be arsed to walk all the way back to the magic shop to sell these scrolls so I'll just dump them here for now. (Plus I'm sick of hearing the witch say "I ssense a ssoul in ssearch of ansswerss." every time I visit.) I'm pretty sure they'll be perfectly safe here lying in the middle of the street while I'm gone. Alright, back to the town portal then... or maybe I'll just save and quit now before I lose another hour to the game.

Time hasn't been that harsh on Diablo in my opinion. Sure it's a bit hard to see in the dungeons, but the gameplay is still addictive and the interface doesn't feel clunky at all. I guess clicking on monsters and hoarding loot never really gets outdated, even if it does get tedious at times. It's just a shame my character model doesn't change to show what I'm wearing, so I can't impress all the NPCs with my Skeleton King crown.


  1. The graphics hold up for the age of the game

  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers game on Game Boy Advanced pretty much ripped off Diablo for graphics/gameplay (and was a surprisingly good game as a result):

    1. Hey I played that game a few years back.

    2. So you did! I didn't realize :)

      Here's the link for anyone interested:


Semi-Random Game Box