The story of Diablo takes place in Heaven, Hell, and the fictional world of Sanctuary. Eons ago, an angel fell in love with a demon. When that love sprung a conflict between the minions of each, three lords of evil, including Diablo himself, were sent to the world of Sanctuary to spread their evil influence. Eventually, a group known as the Horadrim trapped each evil lord in a soulstone and buried them in three separate locations. A monastery was built above the burial ground of the Lord of Terror, Diablo. A small town called Tristram formed in the surrounding area. A king, named Leoric, decided to destroy the monastery and build a cathedral in its place. Diablo, through his evil powers, influenced the archbishop of the cathedral to release him from his encapsulating soulstone. Diablo then attempted to possess King Leoric, to which he could only bring upon his madness, as the King’s will was enduring. The archbishop then kidnapped the King’s son and convinced the King that someone in the town of Tristram had committed the offense. Leoric then tore apart the town and its people in search of his son’s kidnapper. In the end, it was the King’s most trusted knight that stood against his madness and ended his tyranny.
A lone hero found Tristram and descended into the depths of the cathedral, which led straight to Hell. The hero defeated Diablo, sending him back into the soulstone. To protect the world from the evil, the unnamed hero thrust the soulstone into his own forehead, with the intention of containing its evil. Eventually, the wanderer succumbs to the evil within him, and seeks out the other two demons to release them from their soulstones. A new hero then sought out the Dark Wander, as he was then called, and a chase across the world ensued, ending in the destruction of the three soulstones, capturing the three evil demons in Hell forever; or so it was believed.
In Diablo III, a comet has fallen right into the old Tristram cathedral, and evil begins lurking up to the newly-built, safer town of New Tristram. You are the hero who travels to New Tristram, upon receiving the news of its peril. The player chooses from five different classes. The first class is the Barbarian, who is skilled in the use of close quarters weaponry and heavy armor. Next is the Demon Hunter who utilizes ranged weapons, along with various traps and melee attacks. The Monk is a holy warrior that uses fast hand-to-hand combat and agility to best his or her opponent while also possessing healing abilities. The Witchdoctor has the ability to summon undead monsters and cast different curses and hexes. Finally, there is the Wizard, who uses magical defense and attack spells, including a variety of elemental spells.
Diablo III, just like its predecessors, is a point-and-click, action role-playing game, centered on gathering loot from fallen opponents to better equip yourself. Along the way, you will also unlock skills and skill runes. Skills are your offensive and defensive abilities, used in combat. Skill runes are added to your skills to give them different properties. For example, Bash is a basic attack with a chance to knock your opponent back. Clobber is a skill rune, which, when equipped to the Bash skill, augments it to include the chance of stunning the enemy.
While multiple skill runes can be unlocked for each skill, only one can be active at a time. However, these can be changed at any time, allowing the player to choose how skills can be used on the fly. This means there is little to no consequences for your decisions. While mitigating the risk of making the wrong decision, it also cheapens the gravity of your choices when leveling up. This resulted in my characters not having that “custom” feel like they did in Diablo 1 and 2, but I also understand the need for freedom to change things up for different situations, which I actually did find myself doing. So all in all, the new system works well for the game that it’s built for.
Skills are used via the left and right mouse button. These can be mapped to any available skill. There are also four extra buttons that can be mapped, which are each unlocked as your character reaches a certain level. By default, the four extra buttons, which are set to the number keys 1 - 4, represent each type of skill. There is also a very useful setting which lets you map these keys to whichever type of skill you wish, giving you more control over your character’s build.
Diablo III has retained the series’ isometric, top down, perspective. If you find that the camera is too far out for your taste, you can zoom in for a closer look at the action. I found this feature, which is not new to the series, to be quite useless, due to the fact that it lessens your field of view, decreasing your response time to the world’s deadly inhabitants. The good thing about zooming in is that it allows you to get a closer look at the beautifully-crafted environments.
The world that Blizzard created, while very detailed, feels out of place in the series. Had this game not carried the name Diablo, I would have had no problem with the way the artistic style is presented, but this is not the case. Diablo has always masterfully matched its subject matter, giving a sense of darkness that has not been accomplished in its third outing. While the environments and monsters look to be of evil descent, the color scheme chosen for the player character, environment, and enemies is too bright, and the contrast between each color is too great. The cinematic sequences, though, match the “Diablo” tone perfectly, which leads me to believe that the lack of style retention comes more from Blizzard’s game engine limitations than the artistry. To properly fit Diablo III into the trilogy, a different engine should have been used.
The outer world design has remained similar to the Diablo 2 standard of exploring the world around the safety of the town, and then venturing further away and into ruins and dungeons. It is when you delve into the many dungeons that the level design becomes forgettable. When adventuring through the cathedral’s under dwellings in Diablo 1, there was a looming feeling that you were headed someplace very dreadful, with worry of what might be around each corner. This time, it feels like you are going wherever the level design sends you, with only the ending objective, in mind. Well that and loot; precious, precious loot.
Loot is acquired from treasure chests, dead enemies, rotting logs, and other environmental containers. It can be any of the following items: health potions, health globes, gold, armor, weapons, jewels and jewelry. Health globes are a new addition to the series and heal the player upon pickup, while health potions remain an inventoried item. Gold’s purpose is just as you would expect; it can be used to purchase new items in town. Armor comes in the form of helmets, chest armor, boots, bracers, pants, shoulder armor, gloves, and shields. Weapons consist of one-handed and two-handed melee weapons, projectile weaponry, magical wands and staffs, and hand-to-hand augments. Jewels can be placed into items with available slots to add magical properties to them. Jewelry consists of amulets and rings, which also carry magical properties. Weapons and armor come in three forms: basic, magical, and rare. Rare items also carry magical properties, but usually have more of them, and are much stronger. This is the part of the game that will keep players coming back time and time again. It is the addiction of becoming more powerful through these items that give Diablo III the kind of replay value that some developers only dream of.
As you progress through the game, you unlock a blacksmith, who allows you to craft weapons and armor, and a jeweler, who will let you combine jewels into more refined forms while also allowing you to remove jewels from items in which they have already been placed. The advent of the two crafters means that every magical item available now holds great value because A) they are worth enough money to return for profit, and B) in order to craft new items, you must destroy magical items to yield the required resources. Basic items, on the other hand, become useless before long, because they are worth next to nothing in terms of gold. It would have been nice to see some sort of system to make picking up basic items worth your while.
The story, while taking a backseat to the prospect of finding better items, is well written and sufficiently matches the universe in which it is contained. The plot keeps things together and does not get overly complicated. Also, there are journals found along the way that add extra context for the mission you are undertaking. The journals are read aloud by the voice actors while you are adventuring, which allows for a seamless continuation action. While the voice acting is well done, it tends to further remove Diablo III from its roots. I think this is more the fault of the lines written than the performance of the voice actors. Some of the lines are cheesy and do not fit the game. This is not true in every case, but it is noticeable enough to mention. The music is another story.
The score in Diablo III gives a random reminiscence to Diablo games of old. This would be great if it happened more often, but it does not mean the music isn’t good. It’s great, just different. A lot of attention was paid to detail in terms of ambient noise diversity, to the extent of giving a very appropriate mood to the sound’s accompanying environments. Along with the regionally appropriate atmospheric intonation, there are calamitous moans and clamors to be heard, giving a good sense of apprehension to an already gloomy setting.
Diablo III is such a fun and involved game that you can’t help but find your self coming back for more. Whether it is the loot system, the engrossing combat, or the fun of leveling up, Diablo III will demand your attention for quite some time. One play-through will take you around 20 hours, but once the first difficulty setting is completed, you can continue on again with your same level and equipment, making the game enjoyable for more than one journey. It may not feel the same as it once did, but the new recipe is no less enjoyable.
No sexual content
Violence with blood and gore