Having a Hellish Time, Wish You Were Here

''Diablo III'' is a wildly addictive dungeon crawler that pits you against the forces of hell, whether on your own or with a group of friends

By Sean Bugg
Published on June 7, 2012, 5:02am | Comments

It's not that bad going to hell. In fact, it's a hell of a lot of fun, especially when you get to kill demons. Lots and lots of demons, plus spitting zombies, monstrous insects and corrupted angels.

Welcome to the world of Diablo III, where a little thing like death never gets you down. Twelve years in the waiting — Diablo II was a massive hit in the early 2000s and has maintained a loyal playerbase to this day — the multi-player, dungeon-crawling RPG has just about everything you could hope for, even if it has a handful of things you may not want.

Diablo III

Diablo III

The story, such as it is, takes place 20 years after Diablo II, where the titular demon is long-dispatched but a fallen meteor raises the both the dead and the demonic. By fighting through waves of hellish spawn, you'll discover secret plots and backstabbing twists on the way to finding who's behind an assault on heaven itself. (Spoiler alert: His name is on the box.)

The story's not the important part, which is a good thing, because the story is pretty weak and predictable. What matters are the waves upon waves of enemies chomping at the bit to bring you down. You're not helpless, as you'll have a lot of your own death to deal out, by either magic or melee. You have five classes to choose from — barbarian, demon hunter, monk, witch doctor or wizard — each of which brings different approaches to battle.

Your apparent goal through each of Diablo's four acts is to find the bosses and advance the storyline. But your actual goal is to repeatedly run through the randomly generated maps and dungeons, in search of more powerful enemies, better weapons and armor, and copious amounts of gold. In most games, the boss battles are the pinnacle of difficulty and achievement, but not here. Diablo's main bosses are actually fairly easy when your character hits the appropriate level. The golden-tinted elite and rare monsters are where you'll find your greatest challenges and, like the dungeons themselves, they are random, encouraging multiple dungeon runs to test your skills (and luck).

And you'll need a little luck. While the basic gameplay is simple — point and click to move or attack, using a handful of offensive and defensive skills — it quickly gets complicated as you choose which skills best suit your play style, and then modify those skills with runes that unlock as you progress. As you figure it out, you will find yourself swarmed and slaughtered many, many times. But death is never permanent; just repair your armor and head back into the fray.

Diablo encourages multiple playthroughs with multiple characters. There are four difficulty levels — Normal, Nightmare, Hell and the well-nigh-impossible Inferno — to conquer, and your loot and gold are shared among all your characters, a nice touch for those of us who obsessively level every available class. Diablo's gameplay is wildly addictive; once you get a taste for it, you'll have a constant craving for just one more run.