I first saw my friend Brady playing Diablo. It was a down time for me when it came out. I was back in school and money was tight. My computer wouldn’t be able to run it, due to an outdated graphics card. But man, I wanted to play it. I finally, impulsively and unwisely, bought a new video card and the game. I’d catch hell, but it was worth it to…catch Hell?
Diablo is an amazingly clever game. Ostensibly an RPG with a plot, it’s actually just a kill-anything-that-moves game. Kill, loot, level, upgrade, repeat. Absolutely simple and absolutely mesmerizing. It was so simple you could actually kind of turn your brain off and play it more or less on autopilot, a sort of meditative activity that included killing skeletons and selling loot over and over.
I can’t tell you much about the original Diablo. I know you were going in a church basement that turned into a dungeon that turned into caves that turned into Hell I guess. You had to get big and finally kill Diablo himself. You met the hilariously dopey-named Deckard Cain, who talked like your friend who does a really good Sean Connery. There’s some kind of backstory and mythology but no one who wasn’t an employee of Blizzard ever cared about it. The appeal was the brutal simplicity.
I couldn’t get enough of Diablo. For a while I bought a lot of things that looked like Diablo, usually with sad results. Ultimately the game that would be exactly what I was looking for in more Diablo would be Diablo 2. But that’s another story.