Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here:

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

A big part of last year’s Blizzcon was focused on the now in-development Diablo 4, the latest in the third pillar franchise of the Blizzard trifecta. Today, let’s go back to the origins of this franchise. Today’s game is Diablo, developed by Blizzard and released on PC in 1997.

Diablo’s formula may seem old hat these days as countless other games attempted to copy its success going forward. We’ve already talked about Divine Divinity and its connections to Diablo on this show but other entries such as Darkstone would also have significant similarities. Even today, games such as Grim Dark or Path of Exile owe significant debts to what Diablo started.

If you haven’t played any of those games and have never seen Diablo, here’s what you’re getting into. Diablo is an isometric hack-and-slash RPG with a heavy emphasis on character customization and loot. You start the game as either the Warrior, the Rogue or the Sorcerer, each with fairly obvious strengths and weaknesses. As you venture deep into the dungeons beneath the plagued town of Tristram, you fight monsters and demons by clicking them to attack and using special abilities such as spinning strikes or magical blasts.

Enemies drop loot which can include various weapons, armor, or spell books. These can all be used to customize your character. Also, as enemies are defeated, your character levels up and you can choose where to put points on a skill tree, further differentiating your character from others who  may have chosen the same class of character.

Whichever character you pick, you wind up in the town of Tristram, a town beset by hauntings and demons that seem to be coming from the town cathedral. You take up your weapon and decide to venture down into the depths of the cathedral and find a pathway to hell itself. At its core, lies Diablo, the source of all evil, which you must defeat to save Tristram.

Diablo allows multiplayer for up to four players. Players can choose to play cooperatively with their teammates or they can choose to fight against them for loot and experience, the choice is up to each player so if you aren’t prepared to lose your character, don’t play with people you don’t trust! Diablo also features procedurally generated dungeons so every time the game is played, the depths of Tristram are different, although bosses and key areas remain the same each time.

Western RPGs, especially those on PC, were falling in popularity at the time so while Blizzard supported the project, they did not actually expect it to sell all that well. Instead, Diablo quickly became the number 1 selling PC game on the market, a title which it held for three months until Star Wars: X-Wing vs Tie Fighter finally knocked it down to the number 2 slot. Blizzard quickly greenlit ports of the game for Macs as well as for the Sony Playstation. They also started work on an expansion pack called Diablo: Hellfire which added the Monk character as well as a new dungeon, storyline and many new items.

Diablo has remained one of Blizzard’s most popular franchises in their history and with Diablo 4 on the horizon, that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.