By David Burrola
Diablo has always been a game i’ve felt close to, since its got a great setting that’s gritty and grim but with that small shining light of hope. Which is what the game is really about, that small hope represented in the heroes you play fighting against the Prime Evils and booting their buts back to Hell.
Back in 1996, development Studio Blizzard North released the game that defined the action RPG and dungeon crawler, setting the stage for many games to come later by other studios. This one was still wholly different in that you’re not in a prettier fantasy world with Elves and Dwarves, fighting Dragons, Orcs and Goblins. No, this game you where set against Diablo, the Lord of Terror. This guy was big brutish and freaky as all hell.
I only remember playing the first game as the Warrior because I like the inside booklet art for him, and when I first saw that from my Uncle, and bit time gamer I was so hooked I was already trying to replicate that drawing on paper myself. Yeah I really went nuts over this game. After he played it, and finished it, and went on to other games I went ahead and played it. But with so many other console games that came up later, and with the fact that I didn’t have a computer of my own to play on personally, it got left in the dust for quite a while. It wasn’t until just before going to college that I picked up the sequel that I got heavily into that game. So Diablo II was what really took me for a ride in the world of Sanctuary and had me spending many hours delving into horrific crypts and tombs of terror, fighting demons and undead all for glory, bragging rights and loot.
But lets look at what took this off farther back in the lore and story of what kicked off this battle against ultimate evil.
The beginning of time in Diablo had the Great Conflict, a war between angels and demons. And this war waged throughout time and space infringing on the fabric of reality. But it all comes to a halt when Man comes into being and his mortal world a new possible battle ground for the Great Conflict. So both sides waited to see which side Man would choose, given that they had the unique ability to choose either light or dark.
From here, the Prime Evils; Diablo, Mephisto and Baal had decided that letting man fully decide for themselves was too big to be left alone so they dedicated their strengths to corrupting man and turning them to their side. The other demons in hell feeling that the Prime Evils lost their focus took this chance and held an uprising to kick them out of hell and onto the world of Sanctuary.
All that really did was let them wreak havoc on the world of man unquestionably and try to turn the world to their own army. And seeing as the angels didn’t help at all, it was up to Tyreal Archangel to help man defend himself. He did that by forming the Horadrim. And they hunted down the Prime Evils, sealing them in soul stones. Diablos, was sent beneath the country of Khanduras and a huge network of catacombs was built on top of that where the dead Horadrim where buried honoring the dedication to keeping him down there.
Over time, people forgot about what was there, and the Horadrim dwindled. All until only a small handful remained and eventually, a city named Tristram was built on top of that. Eventually the religion of Zakarum became quite large in the kingdom of Westmarch and soon spread to Khanduras and into Tristram with the self proclaimed King, Leoric.
From here, i’ll sum up since i’m getting a bit too long on this for one part. But Leoric repurposes the decrepit Monastary that was used by the Horadrim to keep Diablo, while at this point no Horadrim where left to warn him of the dangers below.
Diablo sensing that freedom is close, begins to first corrupt the advisor to King Leoric, and lured him to the depths of the labyrinth beneath to make him destroy the soulstone that imprisoned him and be in the world of man once more. Still weakened from his imprisonment, Diablo needed a strong body to inhabit so he chose the King.
Unbeknownst to the people Leoric struggled with the demon for years as he slowly went mad from Diablos’ possesion. He started warring with the other nations giving reason that they all should be a part of the great kingdom he created and follow the light. To keep his rule absolute he orderd the quick execution of all the questioned him, with his advisor keeping close to hold the Order of Light at bay. Eventually as his armies and the main for of the Order of Light we sent out, Leoric was soon passed off by Diablo as the man was getting weaker from his possession and the demon need a better host. He settled on Leoric’s son Albrecht.
Possessing the boy and turning him into a thing of evil wasn’t hard, and in fact happened faster than it had with Leoric. Albrecht was taken deep within the labyrinth of the crypts down to where Diablo was freed and the possession fully took place. Using images of horror and delving deep into the Albrechts fears, Diablo fully turned him into a host body that he could use.
Meanwhile, Leoric started executing more people on account of his son being kidnapped in his mind, and as soon as the Order of Light returned they had to fight and take down their own maddened king. He cursed them on his dying breath, while the advisor told them that they still needed to find Albrecht. With little hesitation the Order went into the labyrinth and where fairly quickly overrun by demons and risen undead that slaughtered the Order wholesale. With nothing much left to do people of Tristram started to leave in droves to get as far from this evil as possible.
Seeing either glory or riches in the deeps adventurers started showing up to try their luck and saving the young prince from evil, probably for a reward. Few came back. But 3 strangers in silent resolution came about to delve deep in to fight the horrors beneath, and then the game starts for you.
That’s how older games where, a huge backstory(that’s fairly butchered here, i’m sorry) that you read before you played to know what was going on. This was summarized from just under 15 pages or so of back story in the book. This was a bit before Blizzard had started with their now infamous cinematic studio and integrating those cut scenes into their games. So this is how you got to know the gritty world that you’re set upon in one of the greatest games in the action RPG genre. And next time we’ll take a look at what changes happened in the second game to make more cohesion and how well those 3 strangers faired in their fight against evil.