Diablo has become Blizzard’s best-selling franchise. And while each new iteration of the game expands on the last, there is a special something that the original had that just can not be replicated.
Diablo is still a game worth checking out if you missed it the first time around, But if you didn’t play it when it was at its peak, it is an experience you will not be able to recreate.
The mechanics and rewards system was highly addictive. Up until that point, there is no other game that I could think of that had that “5 more minutes” quality (except maybe Sim City).
It had a charm to it that is not found in many games, not even its sequels. So if you played Diablo in the 90s, I hope this list brings back some memories for you.
These are not necessarily the best parts of the game. It is more a list of underlying things that I thought made that game more special than the sum of its parts.
5 Overlooked Things That Made The Original Diablo An Awesome Game.
The Voice Acting
“I sense a soul in search of answers.”, “What kin I do fer ya?”, “Stay awhile, and listen.”
I know exactly what voice your read each of those quotes in. It’s amazing how a few simple terms can get so permanently ingrained into your memory.
Good voice acting is something that we have become accustomed to in today’s day and age but in the late ’90s, games on CDs were just starting to become a thing. Prior to that, we used floppy disks and there was no room for such luxuries.
Not only did Diablo have voice acting, it was good. Not all lines in the game were voiced but they squeezed as much as they could. Every time I returned to town I would make sure to speak with everyone in hopes of finding a new quest or item.
The Dead Guy and The Butcher Quest
Upon starting your quest to explore the cursed cathedral, you may encounter a man on the ground. A man that does not have long to live.
This character is highly overlooked. In a 15 second sound bite, he provides a story of the Archbishop Lazarus’s treachery, introduces one of the franchise’s favorite villains, and sets a road map for the path of death ahead.
Then he dies.
This starts the Butcher quest. Simple enough, find the Butcher and avenge your fallen comrade.
Exploring the first 2 levels of the cathedral does not prepare you for the Butcher. He is big, he is scary, and even the room he spawns in was enough to give most people nightmares.
I can guarantee when you opened the door to the butcher’s chamber for the first time you either tried to close it or you ran like hell back to the stairs up. Easily one of the top ten scariest moments in all of gaming.
Random But The Same
While the layout of the town remained consistent, Every time you started a new game of Diablo you got a completely different game.
The dungeons were randomly generated, the quests were randomly generated, and even monsters would spawn on their own cycles.
Sure they would reuse the same textures, sprites, and themes for a few levels, but it never got old.
You would find yourself getting lost, you would be scared to open doors not knowing what was on the other side, and you would jump for joy when a level loaded and you saw the stairs down spawn right there.
Hacking / Trainers
If you never played Diablo online, you might not know about just how rampant cheating was in the game.
Cheating in online games is frowned upon for obvious reasons. Cheating in Diablo was part of the culture.
Blizzard tried their best to update battle.net to keep cheaters at bay, but hackers would update their tools just as fast. And due to lack of foresight, there were certain aspects Blizzard just could not control.
The biggest oversight was that character data is stored on the player’s local computer, and because of that, it could be edited freely. There were dozens of softwares known as “trainers” that would allow you to customize your armor, weapons, stats, and skills to be whatever you want.
Once you hacked things on your end, you just logged on to battle.net and started playing, they had no way of knowing that what you had done.
In a game that focuses on co-op, this is not overly a problem, however, once you turn on friendly fire it would result in the death of 1000s of noobs at the hands of omnipotent players. While that sounds horrible, it added an element of trust, caution, and fear to the game. You never knew who you were playing with and if they were going to turn on you at any time.
Diablo is not known for its music. In fact, you probably didn’t even notice that most of the dungeons had music at all. It was very low, very ambient, and very forgettable. Except for one song.
The Tristram Theme.
The entire game of Diablo is based around the cursed town of Tristram. All of the dungeons and caverns you explore on your adventure to Hell lie deep beneath. Whenever you visit the town to resupply you are greeted by the same familiar melody.
The song on its own is nothing special, but in the context of the game, it is a masterpiece. It starts off slow and continues to get progressively darker as it goes on.
As you decent further toward your goal the song seems to become darker every time you return to town. You can hear sorrow, anguish, despair, and panic. It’s a becomes haunting melody of a doomed fate.
There are many many games that have memorable songs, Super Mario, Zelda, of course. But beyond those staples, there are not many that can drum up such nostalgia for its player.
The Tristam theme is so great because when you hear it, it not only brings up the memory of the game it brings back the memory of how you felt while playing it.