Diablo: the 25th Anniversary

The Blind Eternities forum

Posted on Nov. 17, 2022, 9 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

It may be rather late in the year to make this thread, but this year is the 25th anniversary of Diablo, the first game in one of Blizzard Entertainment’s three major franchises, and one of my favorite video games, ever.

Diablo is set in a world inspired by medieval Europe, as was Blizzard’s previous game, Warcraft, but that is really the only similarity between the two games, since Diablo is an RPG, compared to the RTS of Warcraft, humans were the only sentient race, making the game feel more personal and relatable, and it is also much darker in tone (the original Warcraft was fairly dark in its own right, but nowhere near as dark as Diablo).

I will be honest and say that I enjoyed the sequel game, Diablo II, more than its predecessor, since it had superior graphics, smoother gameplay, and far more items to find, abilities to learn, enemies to fight, and levels to explore, but that does not mean that I did not enjoy the original game, because the original game has something that none of its sequels have: atmosphere.

The original Diablo is one of the darkest games that I have played, in both literal and metaphorical senses: unlike the epic quest of its sequel, where the player travels across several continents and a great variety of environments, the original game is set in a single small town, where it is always night. When the player first arrives in the town, it seems to be a normal and peaceful village, but, slowly, gradually, as the game progresses, the player eventually learns that the town is hiding a dark secret, that not everything is as perfect and ideal as it initially seemed to be, and it is not until close to the end of the game that the title character, Diablo, is mentioned (compared with the sequel, in which the first NPC with whom the player interacts mentions Diablo by name). Apart from the village, there are no wide-open spaces in the game; every level is a cramped and dimly-lit corridor, generating a feeling of cloying claustrophobia, and the player never travels upward; they travel only downward, and, throughout their entire journey, the player descends into Hell, both literally and figuratively, battling demons both literal and figurative, and, unlike every subsequent game in the series, there are no hirelings or minions in this game; the player is entirely alone in their struggle against the darkness. Even the ending of the game is depressing: the player defeats Diablo, but must put Diablo’s soulstone into their head and contain the demon's spirit, leaving the question of if their struggle actually accomplished anything at all. The sequel brings additional darkness to the story by revealing that the hero ultimately fails and that Diablo does take over his body; furthermore, Blood Raven in act 1 of D2 is the rogue character from the first game and the Summoner from act 2 is the sorcerer character, so all three player characters from the first game were corrupted by the darkness against which they fought. And, last but not least, the background music helped to complete the dark, gritty, and creepy atmosphere, making the player nervous and uncertain about what would happen next, what danger or peril may be lurking around the corner, if their next moment would be their last. Starting with Warcraft III, games by Blizzard Entertainment have been filled with memes, in-jokes, and pop culture references (such elements have always been present in Blizzard’s games, but it was not until WC3 that they became as prominent as they now are), but it is clear that the original Diablo was a labor of love, that the developers of the game put forth their best effort, put their very hearts and souls into it, to make it as visceral and as primal as possible, to make it an experience that the players would remember.

As I said, this game is one of my favorite video games, ever; I do prefer the sequel, but I still recognize the brilliance of the original and enjoyed every moment that I played it, so I am very glad to give it recognition on its anniversary.

What does everyone else say about this? What are you thoughts regarding the 25th anniversary of Diablo?

Gleeock says... #2

First dungeon crawler I played. It was a huge Xmas gift for me. It was flat-out different from some of the things that came after. Great music with the mandolin, you could just stay in town all day. I always loved those first couple of visits to Deckard Cane "Stay awhile & listen" when you got to identify all the goodies you picked up. It was pretty cool when you were just gassed in the first levels a few times & you needed to resupply in town. The random mini-quests were cool, especially before the days of everyone knowing everything about the game before they even picked it up.

November 18, 2022 9:14 a.m.

Gleeock says... #3

Also, ditto on the dark, spooky ambience. The music + darkness was pretty great.

November 18, 2022 9:16 a.m.

Abaques says... #4

My finger is still sore from clicking!

Diablo broke a lot of ground and so did Diablo 2. For me the games never totally hooked me. I played through the first one, but by the time D2 came out I'd played Baldur's Gate and discovered that was my jam.

November 18, 2022 5:14 p.m.

I missed the first one, played the second one relentlessly, and then tried the third (I loved the people I got to play it with, not so enamored with the game itself). I feel like I mirror your devotion to that second game - it really hit me hard. D2 is one of the few games I categorize as “retirement home” games; games I will play in The Home if I’m lucky enough to live that long. 100% recommend listening to the OST (original sound track). It’s on you tube and I listen to it sometimes when I’m doing dishes.

November 18, 2022 8:04 p.m.

Gleeock says... #6

I sunk more time into Planescape Torment & Arcanum (there weren't many steampunk games around at that time).

November 19, 2022 9:50 a.m.

Gleeock did you ever play “Thief: the dark project” (I think that was the whole title)? It was very steam punky but also an early stealth FPS’er. The intro was BOMB too. At least... for back then...

November 19, 2022 2:10 p.m.

Gleeock says... #8

Yes, I did play that one as well, right in that same time period.

November 19, 2022 3:03 p.m.

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