Saturday, October 30, 2010

Diablo: Claustrophobia And Fear






I was on hiatus from Dungeons and Dragons during the 1990's, so I was only vaguely aware of the TSR death-spiral, ascent of Magic: the Gathering, and eventual sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast.

Most of my game-time was filled with computer games, my favorite being the original Diablo, released sometime around 1997.

This game scared the crap out of me. I seem to recall that the backstory was revealed intermittently throughout the game, and so for me it was a game of discovery, albeit a rather bloody, monster-laden one. I loved that there were dark shadows around the edges of the screen, and that the music instilled a sense of dread, horror and foreboding. The game-play was very claustrophobia-inducing.

I never got into Diablo II. Some of the mystery of the original Diablo was lost. It may have been the different music, or the fact that you knew what to expect, having played the original Diablo, but Diablo II didn't give me the pulse-pounding experience of fear that I got from the original game.

How does Diablo relate to old-school gaming? Like Diablo, part of the fun of role-playing games is not knowing what is going on, having incomplete information, not knowing if the monster is killable or not, and not knowing whether or not you will survive.

11 comments:

MiniatureWargaming Editor said...

Try Torchlight -- a newish game that reminds me very much of the original diablo.

scottsz said...

Diablo was a great, simple, and wonderfully creepy. I played the hell out of that game.

As much as I loved Diablo 2, I agree that something was missing. The 'terror of the unknown' wasn't quite the same, and D2 seemed much more geared for PvP slash fests on Blizzards servers.

Thinking about it now, it's almost a frigging allegory for D&D's change from it's original incarnations to 4E...

scottsz said...

@MWE: Oops, I forgot... thanks for the Torchlight tip - that looks like fun.

Sean Robson said...

I, too, was on a hiatus from D&D during the 90's; that was the decade of GURPS, but I was also a Diablo addict. I didn't enjoy Diablo II much, either, it was missing the simple charm of the dungeon delve that I so enjoyed about the original.

I was feeling nostalgic this summer and loaded Diablo and the Hellfire expansion and killed Diablo a couple of times; it was still as fun as before - that's a testament to a truly great game.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

MiniatureWargaming Editor said...
Try Torchlight -- a newish game that reminds me very much of the original diablo.

Yes, thanks for the suggestion, i'll have to check that out!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

scottsz said...
Diablo was a great, simple, and wonderfully creepy. I played the hell out of that game.

As much as I loved Diablo 2, I agree that something was missing. The 'terror of the unknown' wasn't quite the same, and D2 seemed much more geared for PvP slash fests on Blizzards servers.

Thinking about it now, it's almost a frigging allegory for D&D's change from it's original incarnations to 4E...


Yes, you read my mind.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Sean Robson said...
I, too, was on a hiatus from D&D during the 90's; that was the decade of GURPS, but I was also a Diablo addict. I didn't enjoy Diablo II much, either, it was missing the simple charm of the dungeon delve that I so enjoyed about the original.

I was feeling nostalgic this summer and loaded Diablo and the Hellfire expansion and killed Diablo a couple of times; it was still as fun as before - that's a testament to a truly great game.


There was something about the spooky music from original Diablo. Hearing it still gets my heart racing with fear.

Tequila Sunrise said...

Wow, the original Diablo was only 1997? It feels like longer than that since D2 came out. I have to say, I prefer D2. Maybe just because I played it first, but I never even beat the original. I got all the way to Big D as a rogue, and couldn't beat him for the life o' me! The strategy guide said he's easier to beat as a warrior, but after my first endgame experience, I never tried again.

D2 is far from flawless--sometimes painfully so--but that feeling of uncertainty and dread you're describing is what I felt during my first couple run-thrus. I'm hoping I feel it again with D3, though it's a video game, so it's sure to fade with experience.

George said...

This post just brought up memories of the past. When Blizzard’s cinematics were in fact the larger part of the goal. Waiting for the next twist in the plot, slashing away, trying to stay sharp after hours of game play. I “lost” many nights over my monitor, trying to “save the world”. I’m almost misty eyed now!

Havard: said...

I loved Diablo I. One thing I liked about it was that it was fairly limited in scope. You couldnt just wander around aimlessly like in some later games in the genre. When I first played Diablo, it reminded me of the old Faerytale Adventure, my favorite game on the Amiga :)

The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Paladin - I just wanted to visit your blog and wish you a Happy Halloween and a Very Oogie Boogie Day.