Diablo 3 – A Review

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is David and I clicked on things for three full working days in the last week.

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It all started when I clicked on a ghoulish figure that was munching on a cadaver in the road ahead of me. It died instantly. Another identical ghoulish figure appeared farther down the road. It was clear what I must do… click the fucker.

Extending this story any further would serve only to produce a novel-length rundown of my clicking antics and the subsequent death of a variety of monsters, skeletons and evil people. I shall tell you this, though… some of these foes require several clicks.

Of course, to glibly describe Diablo as “a game in which you click on enemies and they die” would be as crass and unfair as splitting an infinitive earlier in this sentence in a bid to prick up the ears of any trigger-happy pedant only to catch them out by later appearing to know what I was doing.

They might come back by saying that the sentence was needlessly over-compounded, but BOOM. 2-0.

In any event… you do click on stuff and it does die and to give the impression that this isn’t what I’ve done for 21.5 hours this week while other people slaved over a hot spreadsheet or rustled up a delicious meal for their families would be disingenuous.

The thing is, guys… “the click, click, click… dead” mechanic is moreish.

So, you’re in a dungeon, right, and it’s been randomly generated (for the most part) and so the goal you seek could be round this next corner… and in any case, round this next corner will definitely be something you can click on that will die. Just one more goblin. Just one more corner. Just one more exit to find. Then bed. Really.

Blizzard Entertainment have honed their mad skillz in this hamster-wheel gaming model to perfection over the best part of a decade with World of Warcraft, where most of my clicking used to be done before a painful intervention was made by my family, friends and ISP.

You see… as soon as I feel I have had enough of the loop… another baddie, another corner, another exit, another mission… DING! My bitch “levels up”. I get a new spell. When I click, things LOOK DIFFERENT. I’m harder, badder, cooler.

Every so often I get a new sword or something. It looks different. It makes me more bad-ass.

I also collect money all the time and I can spend in shops on things to make me click harder! It’s all so banal. It is a lesson in something important. A lesson I could learn and benefit from if I wasn’t so incredibly busy clicking on things.

Of the two words “Blizzard Entertainment”, the first is substantially more descriptive than the second. Very little of this game is entertaining, really… but it’s a bona-fide blizzard of tiny rewards and goals and rewards and goals and OMG! RARE SWORD! FUCK! I MUST SEE WHAT THIS DOES TO A GOBLIN.

All the best songs mature with age, sometimes demonstrating an insight that appears prescient. I believe it was the legendary social commentator Seal who sang “Solitary brother… there is still a part of you that wants to live”, presumably in anticipation of the loneliness associated with one’s 15th hour of survival in the lonesome dungeons of the undead featured in Diablo 3.

The icing on this genius cake is that you can hook up with strangers and friends to click on monsters together… and you’re rewarded handsomely for doing so. The baddies all get harder, the game more challenging, the loot more precious… and occasionally the camaraderie so genuine and warm that the “roleplay” part of this game has become tangible without any intention on the part of anyone. When you meet a stranger and they’re helping you kill demons and you’re helping them and it’s all frantic and clicky… you forget they’re not really a wizard or whatever until you think about it, which there’s no time for. Clicking needs doing.

I am saying “you”, but I mean “me”. You probably think this is a terrible waste of time and money, and if you don’t, you’re probably too busy clicking on trolls to have an opinion.

Therein lies my ambivalence about Diablo 3. As a piece of interactive fiction, the story is acceptable, but basically sucks. The narrative bits are phenomenally well made but suffer from weak acting and a plot woefully short of surprises. The sad fact is that this is completely irrelevant. You could be a triangle that needs to click on all the squares to save Geometry Land. It’s all about the clicking, dying, upgrading, clicking cycle, which has been crafted to perfection.

Ultimately Diablo 3 is like obtaining a roll of bubble wrap and an OCD on the same day. Inside its clutches there is nothing else that matters, and it’s top-level escapism from the masters thereof. If you have giant blocks of free time and you’re given to boredom and self-loathing, I can wholeheartedly recommend this game. It is distracting, magnetic, hypnotic and, dare I say, meditative. Emerging from a four-hour Diablo session can be like stepping into a brand new day with uncommon clarity and presence of mind because it’s impossible to think about all the clutter of your real life.

Of course, clicking a mouse for four hours doesn’t get any of that clutter sorted out, either. Proceed with caution.

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6 comments

  1. Good review, just buyed the game yesterday evening. Do you think Diablo 2 was better?

  2. Great review, thanks… I have read a few and they haven’t summed it up this well. I will loosen my clicking finger in anticipation of its arrival!

    • Thanks, Alec! My battletag is bargeld#1397 – feel free to add me when you’re in. :)