Perfekt Past: Diablo

Diablo: The daddy of modern RPGs.


When people talk about games (especially reviewers like me) they often describe it by direct comparison to a previous game by saying something along the lines of “Bioshock? It’s like System Shock 2 but underwater.” or “Rollercoaster Tycoon? It’s a poor man’s Theme Park” along with this direct comparison we often use the term “clone” for when something new reuses or wholesale steals ideas and concepts from previous games. Before release today’s Perfekt Past exhibit was tagged as being Gauntlet clone but once we played it we quickly realised there was far more to it than that and was quickly elevated to become a game we use to compare other game to even today with recent titles like Hellgate: London or Arkadian Warriors it’s a kiddie Diablo clone you see.

The game starts with you returning to your home town of Tristram after years away only to find the locals being terrorised and frightened by all manor of hellish undead and monstrous creatures with even the local priest and ruler King Leoric turned to evil by the malign influence of Diablo the lord of terror who has set up shop under the town’s church. By talking to the few villagers left in Tristram  it quickly becomes clear what you must do and resolve to vanquish Diablo and bring Tristram back into the light of day.

There should be a hero in there somewhere

‘at a distance as they lack the raw’

How you do this depends on what character class you select  with three different types each with their own style of play. The most direct is the Warrior class who favours melee attacks and lots of armour and is perfect for getting stuck into the hellspawn creatures with a sword or similar weapon. The Rogue starts off equipped with a short bow and prefers long range attacks and picking of targets at a distance as they lack the raw strength of warriors or the magical power of Sorceress who complete the trio of classes. Sorceress by far the weakest psychically of the three classes they compensate for this by having a far greater amount of mana to fuel their spells and they find learning spell books much easier due to their high magic stat.

Tristram is fairly sparse with most of the buildings empty but the few villagers who have remained behind can all help you in their own way. There’s Griswold the blacksmith who can fix your equipment as well as buy and sell new items to you. Cain the elder, along with sounding like a drunken Sean Connery can identify magical items for you to reveal their true potential. Pepin the healer can sell you potions along with healing you free of charge. Ogden the tavern owner and Gillian the barmaid are both a source of gossip and the odd quest such as King Leoric’s tomb. Farnham the local drunk will sometimes have important information amid his drunken ramblings while Wirt can sell you unique magical items but will often retail them for far more than their actual worth.

Even monsters like Ready Break

‘unique monster carrying’

With your explorations of Tristram complete it’s time to get to the church and begin your descent through the sixteen levels of hell to get to Diablo but before you can enter the church you find a dying local who can give you your first quest of finding and slaying The Butcher. To see this quest in action watch the Perfekt Past: Diablo video below but for now I’ll keep the Diablo talk here about the whole game rather than focus on particular quests.

One of the problems with trying to talk about Diablo in specific terms is how each of the sixteen levels is made up or rather not made up as each one is randomly constructed afresh with each play through. There will be the odd fixed location on some floors such as the Butcher’s lair on level one to and the entrance to Leoric’s tomb on level three but every: item, monster, shrine, exits and trap placements are all completely different. Not only does this keep every play through a fresh and unique experience but encourages you to explore every room and corridor as even the furthest corner of a dungeon could contain a chest filled with money or unique mosnter carrying a magical item.

Ahh fresh meat

‘a new class of Monk’

Even the items you find are randomised to a big degree based on your level so you’ll never find some to powerful or weak for your character with early items giving useful +2 or +3 bonuses while later items like a Ring of the Zodiac will easily give you a +20 to each of your five stats. Along with equipping items to improve yourself each monster you kill gives you experience points with you gaining a character level every so often. When this happens you gain extra life and mana based on your magic and vitality stats along with five points to add to these base stats of: strength, dexterity, magic and vitality. With each of the sixteen levels getting harder the deeper you go any opportunity to gain experience should be used and every quest completed to boost your abilities.

When you eventually get tired of replaying the game over and over at harder difficulties (I must have run through to Nightmare difficulty at least half a dozen times, although I’ve had friends go at least double that) you could get the now rare as rocking horse shit expansion pack Diablo: Hellfire that added more quests and a new class of Monk and even two hidden classes if you fiddled with the games settings along with new items like oils and runes and even a couple of new spells.

Damn mud men always keeping a hero down

‘I must have played off’

If you wanted to play online you could with Blizzards supporting online play, however it quickly become pointless as just like other online games like Phantasy Star players found ways to hack the code and trainer the online game making a joyless experience for those not cheating. Blizzard fixed this for Diablo II by having the player’s stats stored off site but that’s a feature for another day…

Playing Diablo today requires finding a copy to play as it’s not (yet) classed as abandonware but given the game popularity don’t expect to pay more that a few pounds for a good CD copy for either the PC or even Mac. The PS1 conversion is passable but just be sure to have an empty memory card as the Diablo save will take up about 80% of a normal memory card! The Hellfire expansion is well worth tracking down despite it not being as polished as the original Diablo it still adds even more longevity to a game that I must have played off and on for at least three years.

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