When I was young, I didn’t have a lot of games. We didn’t have a console in our home (until later), and I shared a computer with my sister that had a hard drive of 4 gigabytes. And the computer was in our cold, moist basement, which was pretty cold over half of the year. While this gaming experience left much to be desired, we did have an epic game in our childhood, Diablo. I can list a handful of games that were influential to me, but maybe the reason I still play various Blizzard games today, and have trust in the company, is because of Diablo.
You can imagine that I was excited when I heard of a Diablo I remake within Diablo III, The Darkening of Tristram. I played the heck out of Diablo III, but I haven’t paid much attention to the game in recent years. I decided to hop back into the game, just to play this nostalgia event.
The Darkening of Tristram event is active in Diablo III during the month of January 2017. To get there, you just portal of Old Tristram, and there is a portal to Tristram. So you’re going to “Old Tristram” to take a portal to “Tristram” which is the current Old Tristram from decades ago. Cool!
Your character enters town (with companion), and you instantly serenaded with the classic Tristram acoustic guitar twang. You are treated with the reduced graphics experience of the remake, though it looks worse than that of the original Diablo game. You see a mix of completely new Diablo III UI, and a slightly modified version of the health and resource pools to look like old school Diablo UI.
The town has the same map as Old Tristram, and is connected to the areas with Adria’s Hut and the Tristram Cathedral. The town is in shambles, presumably taking place around the events of Diablo II, when the town was newly destroyed. You see a bunch of dead bodies with Pepin, Farnham, Ogden, and cows among the victims. I think Wirt is somewhere, but I couldn’t find his body in my playthrough.
The first four levels in Diablo I, known as Cathedral levels, fittingly takes place in the same Tristram Cathedral levels in Diablo III, as they take place in the same place.
All the monsters you fight are renamed as creatures in Diablo I, but they are the same minions as they are in Diablo III. The gameplay is unchanged from Diablo III, and you use the same moves you would. There were questions about how your mobility will be compromised, but it isn’t really affected. You move around in an odd manner, which imitates the Diablo I walk, but is more of a run.
Side quests you would see in Diablo I are replicated in Diablo III as zones, but not necessarily as quests. For example, the Poisoned Water Supply Level, is just a random outlet that leads to a Cave level.
You do get to fight the Butcher again, a much smaller version of the Diablo III Butcher, to scale for the Diablo I size. The room of butchered bodies was also recreated, which marks the most gore/bodies in Diablo III.
You also fight a number of memorable enemies, like Leoric, Gharbad the Weak, and Snotspill.
The Catacombs levels are recreated with the Ruins of Corvus maps, which lead to longish levels.
One of the more memorable sidequests, the Halls of the Blind is present with various Acid Beasts and Illusion Weavers in tow, making it a very deadly area, which is easy to die in. The Chamber of Bone is also recreated. Minions like Horned Demons and Illusion Weavers don’t give much signal that they are coming, which could possibly hit squishy characters really hard unexpectedly.
The Caves are easily replicated with the generic cave dungeon levels in Diablo III, which have a boring circular map format. In Diablo I, the music for this zone was always my favorite, so it was great to hear it again.
There weren’t many notable quests in this level, but you get to find Griswold’s Edge and the “Slain Hero.” But he just gives you a boring blue item. Magma Demons are especially dangerous in this zone, as they hit pretty hard from a long range.
Finally, the Hell levels are replicated with the Halls of Agony levels in Diablo III.
Succubus minions are as dangerous as they are in Diablo I, much more than the ones in Diablo III. The Unholy Altar and Archbishop Lazarus parts were very well done I must say, with the leading cinematic with Lazarus.
Finally, you fight Diablo (in a scaled down size). They did correctly replicate the various levers you have to pull down before fighting the final boss. You kill Diablo, and get sent to the classic cinematic showing Diablo becoming the captured Prince, and your hero shoving the soul stone into his/her forehead.
The main drop that you get for completing The Darkening of Tristram is a special gem, the Red Soul Shard.
What I Liked
- Having the same 5 music tracks in Diablo I was easily the biggest highlight of this event.
- Decent attention to detail for sidequest mappings/mechanics.There honestly were a bunch of sidequests I had completely forgotten about, until this event. I guess the goal of bringing back some nostalgia was achieved.
- Some minions like Acid Beasts, which don’t exist in Diablo III, were created well.
- Getting hit in the dark unexpectedly was a plus for me. Diablo I had a ton of this, and Diablo III is known for being too bright and colorful. It was dark enough to make it look dangerous.
What Could’ve Been Better
- Better attention to items/drops. You get some iconic items which have the old artwork, but nothing can conceivably be used at all. You also only get one transmog, with the Butcher’s Cleaver. Something nice would’ve been old transmogs of current items. An example would be old transmog of Windforce for bows.
- More items would’ve been nice. You get a lot of generic blue “Godly Plate of the Whale” and staves, but no flashbacks to legendary item drops.
- The levels felt more like Diablo III than Diablo I. While there are obviously limitations with using the same level/monster/character models as they are in Diablo III, I think more could’ve been done, given how much time they spent on this project. There was a lull in “sidequests” for a while in the Caves, and it felt like a bit of a drag.
- Similarly, a lot of minions could’ve benefited by looking more like their analogs in Diablo I. Using a Goat Demon as a Horned Demon doesn’t quite translate well.
- Some of the old UI could’ve been used easily. An example is the “broken item” symbol, which could’ve easily been replicated with the Diablo I icons, but chose to stick with the Diablo III version.
Overall, the whole thing took me an hour to complete, and I was somewhat satisfied with the undertaking. Though it was fun, it left much to be desired, in terms of creating a more memorable experience.