By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on February 28, 2016
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to yet another exciting Big Red Timemachine on Friday! It's been a... what? What do you mean, it's not Friday? I would bloody well know what day of the week it is, now wouldn't I? Look, being the master of time and space, I... What? Sunday?! How the hell did that happen?!
Ok guys, very funny! Who's been tampering with my time-conduits again?! Honestly, it's so hard to get good help these days. I don't even know why I bother hiring new staff; they're all just a bunch of idiots! Oh well, there's nothing for it, I suppose. Yes, yes, I know; I could go back in time and fix this mess, but that would just be one big hassle and I don't have the time to get into that. We have a show to run! So, without further ado, I invite you all to join me as I travel back to December of 1996, in search for a game that let us do battle with the forces of hell themselves. It's time to rid the world of demon scum... it's time for Diablo!
Being the first game in the now well-known Diablo series, Diablo was released for PC at the very end of 1996, while the Mac and Playstation versions had to wait until 1998. For the first time ever, it transported us to the town of Tristram, located in the kingdom of Khanduras on a planet known as Sanctuary. Now, Tristram might look like any other ordinary rural town, but I assure you; things in Tristram are really not as they seem. Now, when I say: "things in Tristram", what I actually mean is: "Things beneath Tristram", because underneath the town's cathedral lies a vast labyrinth of 16 procedurally generated dungeons where evil lurks and danger is waiting around every corner.
As the protagonist, you must journey into these dungeons, dispatch Hell's legions along the way and finally reach Hell itself where you face off against the worst Evil of our times: Diablo, the lord of Terror. Before you lift so much as a finger, it is imperative you select the right class of character to match your preferred playing style. Diablo featured three classes to choose from: the tough and melee-attack based Warrior, the nimble and sneaky Rogue, or the powerful but more vulnerable Sorcerer. All three classes have their strengths and weaknesses, so choose wisely; otherwise you might already be worm food before you even get close to Diablo.
What I especially liked about Diablo is the visibility (or the lack thereof) of the underground dungeon. Unlike the 2013 Diablo III game, Diablo featured a so-called 'Ring of Light'; a circular area around your character that lit your surroundings as you moved around the dungeons. Everything outside this ring was dark, so you never knew what was waiting for you in the shadows. When you start the game, this ring was not terribly big, so you would only see enemies when they were a few short steps away from you. Naturally, this just wouldn't do, so you search every nook and cranny of these damp stone halls to uncover artifacts that allowed you to upgrade your gear, your health and yes, your field of view. By finding and equipping the right arcane artifacts, your field of view rapidly expanded to a size that almost lit up your entire screen, making it much easier to spot enemies before they got too close.
The dungeons of Diablo were absolutely stocked to the rafters with enemies and artifacts. Some of these artifacts were just common items and weapons, while others boasted magical properties. The none-magical items and weapons could be used instantly, as could the magical items and weapons, albeit without their magical properties. To make use of those, you'd have to determine what kind of object you were dealing with by identifying them. Once the item in question had been identified, it's magical properties would be revealed and added to the weapon or item's stats.
Diablo quickly won the hearts and minds of countless players all over the globe, most notably for its excellent writing, 3D isometric style, RPG / dungeoncrawler elements and the fact that that is was played in real time, instead of turn-based, like most games of the genre during that period of time. What made Diablo stand out for me were the (at the time) awesome graphics, its dark and eerie level design and its easy-to-master gameplay. If you picked up a copy, it wouldn't be long before you were decimating Hell's forces like a torrential downpour decimates the fun in barbecuing. It's no wonder Diablo quickly became the benchmark for this type of games; easy to master, fun to play, and loaded with more weapons, enemies and items than you could shake a stick at. And if you're into dark fantasy stories, Diablo is sure to satisfy your every eerie need! Now, almost twenty years and a couple of sequels and expansions later, the core gameplay of Diablo series hasn't changed one bit; that just goed to show how good Diablo actually was! Sure, the graphics have been upgraded over the years and more and more dialog is now heard instead of read, but that doesn't alter the fact that, essentially, we're still playing the same game! So, how's that for standing the test of time?!
Speaking of time; we seem to have run of it for today. I would like to express my sincerest apologies for messing up the date and making you wait. I can assure you that the guilty party (or parties) will be swiftly dealt with. And, just as an afterthought; I enjoyed talking about Diablo so much I think I'll just go and play it right now. Hmmm...1996...2016... Twenty year anniversary edition, anyone?! Oh well, a guy's gotta have a dream, would't you agree? Now, ladies and gentlemen, this guy has got a bone to pick with some skeletons, so if you'd excuse me... HAVE AT YOU, SPAWN OF SATAN!