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.