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Following the two immensely successful titles of the Warcraft series, Blizzard Entertainment innovates once more with a revolutionary RPG game named Diablo. In this epic adventure, far from the noise of the clashing battles between Human and Orc armies, only the courage of a valiant hero will liberate the world of Man of its greatest threat. Beneath the foundations of a desecrated church lies an underground labyrinth whose crypts and halls are haunted by hordes of nightmarish creatures. In this blood chilling place is where the game of Diablo sends you.

Honor and courage are a warrior's right and left hands... (*)

When Diablo starts, you have just returned to the city of Tristam. Alas, it is no longer the peaceful town it used to be, and the few townsfolk left that still inhabit the deserted city all have terrifying stories to tell. The sad tale begins when the Arch Bishop Lazarus became possessed by the evil mind of Diablo, the Lord of Terror. From beneath the monastery, Diablo had plot its return to the world of Man, but he needed a mortal form to wear. Among the souls above in town, he found King's Leoric to have the strongest. For months, Leoric tried to fight this evil force that was slowly corrupting him from the inside, but all resistance was vain. The King Leoric, once wise and good, was falling into madness that turned him into a man without mercy, ordering executions, massacres and punitive expeditions. However, Leoric's will was not entirely gone, and this prevented Diablo to take full possession of Leoric's mind, and he decided to seek a fresh and innocent soul, which he found in Leoric's only son, the young Prince Albrecht. Diablo was now ready to take over the Mortal Realm at the head of his horde of demonic creatures.

As Diablo is first of all a RPG game, you select your character's style between a warrior, a rogue and a sorcerer. Not only do they differ by their appearance, but also by the characteristics that define them, namely strength, magic, dexterity and vitality. Each character offers advantages and inconveniences you will need to take in consideration before you choose one of them. While the warrior shows superior strength, the rogue has a greater dexterity, and the sorcerer is obviously more versed in magic than the two others. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that the warrior won't be able to cast spells. As you gain experience points during the game, for each new level of experience you reach, you will be given five points you can distribute as you wish. Whether you want to increase strength over magic, or dexterity over vitality, for example, is completely up to you. Still, you will sometimes find weapons, armor or magical items that require your character to have a certain amount of strength, dexterity or magic before they can be used. In case your character doesn't match the requirements, you might want to increase the lacking characteristic first to benefit from the properties of the new item.

Even though the higher these four characteristics are, the better your chances to survive the final encounter with Diablo will be, life and mana remain the two essential values you should keep your eyes on. Represented by two colored orbs, a red one for life and a blue for mana, these two gauges will indicate how much life and mana you have left. Needless to say, it is bad news when the red orb is empty. Fortunately, before you reach that critical point, you can regenerate your health partially or completely using healing potions, or by having Pepin the Healer take care of your wounds. Potions will be found inside the labyrinth, or can be bought from Pepin in the town. While of a lesser importance for the warrior, the mana is what you need to cast a spell besides magic points of course. Again, you can use mana potions to restore your mana level, but you will either have to find them or buy them from Adria the Witch.

A warrior's true strength lies not in the body, but in the spirit... (*)

At the beginning of the game, depending on which character you chose, you will carry different items. Both, the warrior and the rogue will have two healing potions that will be replaced by mana potions for the sorcerer. Weapons will also be different. The warrior will carry a short sword, club and buckler; the rogue a short bow; and the sorcerer, a short staff of charged bolt. In addition, they will each have 100 gold coins in their inventory. As you explore the dark and gloomy labyrinth, you will discover new items and weapons to be placed in your backpack inventory. It is not unlimited however, and sometimes you will have to decide between what you can throw out and what you can keep. On the inventory screen, the backpack will be schematized by a 10 by 4 grid of spaces, each item taking one space or more. For example, small objects such as potions, rings and amulets will take one space, but weapons can use up to six spaces. To use a particular item, you need to place it on one of the specific areas of the inventory screen that designate a part of your body (head, neck, torso, right and left hands). Thus you can wear rings on your hands, wear an amulet around the neck or have a helm or crown over your head, while holding a weapon and a buckler in your hands. If you don't have enough space in your backpack, you can always place potions or scrolls in your belt which has eight free slots.

The use of magic will of course rely on your abilities. As explained above, a sorcerer will have greater magic skills than the warrior and the rogue, but that's still not enough to be a mighty sorcerer. Before you can cast powerful spells, you need to learn them. This will be done by reading spell books that you will find in libraries within the labyrinth or pick up from your enemy's dead bodies. Though you will need a certain level of magic to read them and be able to use the new spells. With the B key, you will access the Spell Book that provides you with a description of each spell, while the S key will let you choose which one you want to cast next time you right click the mouse. Like experience, the spell levels will increase every time you find an additional book related to the same spell, making it deadlier. Diablo contains an impressive range of spells from bolts and lightning to resurrect and telekinesis, that should be more than enough for any sorcerer's apprentice.

Before you enter into the darkness of the maze, you can converse with the few inhabitants of Tristam. There is Cain the Elder who will identify special items in exchange of 100 gold coins, Griswold the Blacksmith who repairs and sells weapons and armor, Adria the Witch who will gladly sell you mana potions and other magical stuff, Pepin the Healer, Ogden the tavern owner, Gillian the barmaid and Wirt the peg-legged boy. When you approach them and start talking, a new window will appear on the screen. If there is a specific subject you can talk about, it will appear in the dialogue screen, otherwise you will have to listen to gossip. There will be nothing interesting to hear at the very beginning, but when you come back after exploring one or several levels of the labyrinth, the townsfolk will give you quests. You are free to continue your exploration without giving any importance to the quests, but your success may well depend on their completion as you will earn special weapons and magic items that are very useful for the rest of your mission. At every moment during the game, you can press the Q key to access the quest book, and see what quests are left.

Might and magic are spokes on the same wheel...
In lacking one you lack both... (*)

So far, the description of the game nearly matches every single RPG game out on the market, except maybe for the interface; the dialogues being reduced to a minimum and serving almost exclusively the story line and the quests. Really, what makes Diablo so outstanding are the sterling graphics and the multi-player support.

He who fights with monsters
might take care lest he thereby
become a monster.
Friedrich Nietzsche
From all other RPG games, only Ultima VIII from Origin Software could come close to Diablo in terms of graphics. Both use 3D isometric graphics, but the difference is that Diablo uses the 640 by 480 SVGA mode instead of 320 by 200 VGA, which is four times more graphics than Ultima VIII. Smooth and realistic textures replace the rough graphics of Ultima VIII, and should you have a fast configuration, the scrolling is impeccable. The town itself is without a doubt the prettiest place in the game, with its imposing monastery and rustic houses, lifelike trees, rocks, grass and even animated cows, not mentioning the various characters around. The other levels of Diablo also feature the same realism and brilliant graphics. From gloomy crypts and corridors to deserted mines, lava pools and demonic lairs, what awaits you in Diablo is simply unbelievable with so much variety encountered in the game. The number of different creatures that haunt the walls of the labyrinth is equally impressive with over 100 of them. Skeleton warriors, zombies, overlords, magma demons, goat men, spitting terrors, horned demons, winged fiends, gargoyles and dozens of others will make your journey in Diablo a living nightmare from which you may not come back alive. The animations for the character and the creatures are top-notch, and largely outdo what has been done in previous games. To this graphics galore, you must add the numerous real-time light effects. For example, in the obscurity of the catacombs in the first levels, only a halo of light surrounds the player, which illuminates walls and objects as the player moves around. Another example of light-sourced graphics in Diablo are the attack spells such as bolts and lightning, that will light the darkness for a few seconds, and the flickering torches scattered about.

Demon Goat
Demon Goat
Most of the levels are plunged in this shadowy light, the other part being fairly lit up with lava streams. Therefore, identifying the number of opponents is not always an easy task with this continuous penumbra, and when you are not sure, it is better to retreat. In fact, each time I could, I lured my adversaries to a door where I was waiting behind, ready to chop them one by one. If you let them regroup around you, you won't have many chances to survive the onslaught unless you have a resistant armor. Once you've killed them, don't forget to collect all the gold on the floor and any other items or weapons left by your enemies, you will indeed need them. Among the useful items you can find in Diablo besides healing and mana potions, are the Town Portal Scrolls. These will allow you to create a magic passageway between your current location and the town, instead of getting up to the surface through previous levels. Although there are two secret passages in the entire labyrinth that allow you to directly go back to the surface, never venture in the labyrinth without one of these scrolls, you might deeply regret your forgetting them when you see your red orb desperately emptying! To help you in your exploration, the automap option will superimpose an isometric representation of what you have discovered so far from the level, even featuring zooming possibilities.

But he that hides a dark soul
and foul thoughts
Benighted, walks under the mid-day sun
Himself is his own dungeon...
John Milton

If playing Diablo alone is already a great experience, wait until you try the multi-player madness. You can play with a friend over a modem connection, or with three other players using serial links, a LAN network, or Internet, free of charge through Blizzard proprietary Battle.Net server. In the multi-player mode, you can decide to play cooperatively, united against the evil forces, or competitively fighting for your own sake. Like other multi-player games, you can communicate with other players during the game, taunting your adversaries with sarcastic remarks or calling for help if you play cooperatively. It is even possible to set up the level of difficulty from normal to Hell, the last one asking for the most experienced characters. Should you die during a multi-player game, you can be resurrected by another player (if willing to) either with a resurrect scroll or spell. However, if all the players die, they will all restart in town with both life and mana orbs emptied and most of their items in their inventory gone. The only thing that is kept are the character's statistics (level of experience, magic, dexterity, etc).


With Diablo's outrageous 3D rendered graphics and its real-time engine, exploration has never been so exciting in a RPG program. Add the level-generation system that makes each game different, and you get a winner that will stay unrivalled until Diablo 2 comes out. Last but not least, the cinematics from the introduction to the conclusion are simply the best of the industry! And if you don't have your copy yet, just grab one before it gets out of stock!

Written by Frederick Claude

Click here for screen shots.



System Requirements:

Windows 95 or NT 4.0,
Pentium 60Mhz or higher,
Min 8MB memory,
Hard disk,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster (Diablo CD must be in drive to play),
Windows 95 compatible sound card and mouse,
Local Bus SVGA Video Card (DirectX Compatible).

Multiplayer Options

Min 16Mb memory,
2 players: 14400 BPS modem or null modem cable
2-4 players: IPX Network or Battle.net (Requires low-latency Internet connection with support for 32-bit applications).


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