Thoughts on Video Game Nostalgia: Diablo

Diablo title image found at http://www.mamecade.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/diablo1st01.jpg
Diablo title image found at http://www.mamecade.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/diablo1st01.jpg

As I pointed out over the weekend, I have been playing Diablo III far, far too much over the past few days. It’s way too easy to sit down and get sucked into it for an afternoon if you have no other large pressing concerns, which actually plays into the Diablo series’s appeal to me. As you can guess from the title of the piece, playing the latest installment in the franchise has brought back some old memories of the previous two entries and caused me to think over what about them made them such great games for me. I often joke that I once lost an entire year of my life to the original Diablo, and that’s not much of an exaggeration. I’m not especially proud of it, nor am I truly ashamed of it. It is what it is, and there were very serious reasons for it.

I first got into Diablo back in 1999, when it had already been out for around four years. Pardon me a moment while the realization that that was 15 years ago washes over me. Anyway, 1999 was a complicated year for me–there was middle school and all its tiny hells, and that’s when my parents divorced. I know; boohoo, right? Diablo became an escape for me, as it did for many people during that time. I missed a lot of school, my grades came down quite a bit (which was unusual for me then), and I spent hours upon hours (day and night) living in the world of Sanctuary (if the name was even canon then) and fighting demons. It bears noting that I was never tempted to engage in Satanism or self-destructive behavior as a result of this game. On the contrary, Diablo made me even more curious about the Christianity I had been raised in and hadn’t yet felt alienated from.

Full view of Tristram from the original Diablo found at http://www.romstation.fr/uploads/dfec2c0f694c0b159f7d6e474c743d57.jpg
Full view of Tristram from the original Diablo found at http://www.romstation.fr/uploads/dfec2c0f694c0b159f7d6e474c743d57.jpg (Click for larger image).

But it was this curiosity, this simulated battle between pure good and pure evil, that captivated me. The idea that a world existed, even if it was tiny and only existed on my computer, where I had the power to save lives and affect the natural order of reality made me feel at peace with everything else that was going on around me. In Diablo, I could be an immensely strong warrior, an unparalleled sorcerer of frightening ability, or (when the mood struck) a sometimes scantily-clad female marksman. The character class selections were primitive at the time, yes, but I didn’t have to be me. I could create any back story I wanted for how my character ended up in the town of Tristram, following rumors that a great evil was stirring beneath its cathedral.

And I must re-iterate here, I played this game so very much. And I kept playing it until the second game came out later in 2000. Thankfully, I had moved on by that point to rededicating myself to my studies, reading books, and at least attempting a real-world social life, so I didn’t lose nearly as much time playing Diablo II as I did its predecessor. But there were many, many times in high school that were severe downers (most of us had such experiences), and my barbarian or druid character in Diablo II was always there, waiting for me to slip them back on like well-worn coats.

Diablo II character selection screen found at http://majorslack.com/pics/screenshots/diablo_01.jpg
Diablo II character selection screen found at http://majorslack.com/pics/screenshots/diablo_01.jpg

For me, role-playing games are what gaming is all about. I enjoy other sorts of games, to be sure, but RPGs are the core of my gaming career, if you will. I mentioned briefly in an earlier post that Final Fantasy X was a great help for me when I was younger, and I played it shortly after I got into the Diablo games. It fulfilled a similar need I felt. I don’t know if it’s sad or not, but I’ve always felt like I only find the true me when I’m interacting with a story full of heroes with very few limits placed upon them, whether in the games I play or the stories I read. And it’s no surprise that with the small struggles I’ve faced recently that I would find myself back in Diablo’s dungeons somehow.

Who feels me on this one? Let me know in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Video Game Nostalgia: Diablo

  1. I spent countless hours on Final Fantasy VIII, KOTOR I and II, Dragon Age (all of them), Torchlight I and II and one year and an half of SWTOR. I am a casual gamer, but when I fall in love with a title, I just get hardcore on said game. I am in the same case regard how RPG games are the core of what I’ve played. When I went through burnout earlier this year, Torchlight II was something I played tons again. I’ve been itching to get back into KOTOR but I am trying to catch up with TV, so I don’t do everything together, because I know myself when I get sucked up into a game. I haven’t played SWTOR since July 2013 (about the time when I finished my eBook about female characters in the game) and I do miss it tons every once in a while, but I’m worried I’m going to get too hooked on it again (and I can’t afford the subscription and am unsure of the free to play features). In a way, I feel it’s better left in the past, but I miss it at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely feel you there, Natacha. I’ve been hesitant to get into any MMORPG after I saw what I became with Diablo. Also, it looks like we share a lot of the same tastes in games. But I’m not familiar with Torchlight. When did that come out?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SW:TOR is the only MMORPG I ever played (I never got into WoW though I had tried it. It took Star Wars to get me into a MMORPG!) Torchlight came out in 2009 and the Torchlight II in 2012. The first game was great but I love how they improved things included in game play with the second one!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh man, Torchlight is amazing! I heard rumors it was some of the actual people who helped make Diablo, in their own little studio. It was made as a cheaper RPG – more that it wasn’t super-high-end graphics, and lacks some of the heavy choice, open-world, and voice-acting elements you see in RPGs today (like Bethesda or Bioware games).

        Nope. This was a Diablo-like game, and I mean that in the good sort of way. Only a few classes to choose from, a deep dungeon of enemies to fight through, random loot, a bit of story, and a lot of fun.

        Haven’t played the second one yet, since it still isn’t out on the Mac… but I can definitely endorse Torchlight!

        Like

  2. Oh, Diablo. I have a slightly different take on the first game, in particular: I had the PlayStation version, which allowed for shared-screen 2-player co-op. I played this with my dad, and it’s still some of the best time we’ve spent together. The teamwork involved in a shared-screen action game like that – with friendly-fire damage – is intense. Such a good game.

    I played Diablo II entirely solo, but console Diablo 3 has gotten me back to co-op Diablo – the shared screen 4-player is a ton of fun, and the removal of the friendly fire makes playing this with friends a blast!

    Ah, Diablo… so good! Thanks for the post 🙂

    Like

  3. Pingback: Carving Out A Space | Fantasy Friday: My Earliest Experiences

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