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Halloween in Diablo Land

Posted 31 Oct 2012 by

Yes, I know it’s called “Sanctuary.” So it’s October 31st in the real world, a date/holiday that puts many of us in mind of Diablo. Or at least a holiday that we can associate Diablo with, what with all the demons and creepy tombs and walking dead, etc. The Diablo world is like the old Halloween, when it was evil and scary and dangerous, and before the holiday got entirely incorporated into modern harmless brightly-colored plastic consumer culture.

Harrogath’s own pumpkin patch.

You know you’re old when you can remember seeing scary things on store shelves at this time of year. These days, you look at the Halloween stuff in any market or drugstore and there’s not a single thing an 8 year old could get even a momentary tremble from. (Which is, of course, entirely by design.)

But I digress.

In years past, we often made a big deal about Halloween, on this here Diablo site. You can see their annual contest (I can not vouch for the function of any of the links on that page), with contests, fan fiction, screenshots, fan art, Diablo-themed pumpkins (from years before Blizzard began it’s too colorful), and more.

Alas, this year we have nothing new to offer, though some of the old stuff I dug up to include in this post is so old it’ll be new to most of you guys. You can see some of the best Diablo 2 Halloween screenshots below; not that there was any Halloween-themed content in that game, but players got visually creative. I’ve always loved that pumpkin patch shot.

You guys consistently refuse to rise to my bait with mentions of bonus holiday game content, so I guess there’s no point in once again mentioning that I think it would be cool to find some Halloween-themed content in Diablo III at this time of year. (Though oddly, the vote results were quite positive towards holiday content, so only the people who care enough to write a comment seem to be opposed to it.)

In a more general sense, do you guys feel any Halloween connection to Diablo? It’s harder these days; not only has the holiday itself been watered down and Disney-fied into submission, but the “it’s too colorful” brigade would say the same about Diablo III. I beg to differ; not only in much of the Diablo III concept art spectacularly good and moody, but there are plenty of areas in Diablo III that are as gothic and creepy as anything you saw in Diablo II. Tristram and the crypts, for instance. I think the elevation of Diablo II’s style and mood and visuals is mostly nostalgia in our memories, enhanced through the passage of years. It’s like how everything is so much smaller when you go back to see anything from your childhood — nothing’s the way it used to be.

That said, Diablo III definitely has a less moody, creepy vibe than either of the previous Diablo titles, though I think that’s more about the style of play and bland music and just the general smoothness of the flow and rhythm and pace. You can’t really be scared when you’re moving so quickly and everything looks so visually-pleasing in isometric 3D.

Forget about D2, though. You really have to go back to Diablo I to find the sort of spooky-theme that got many of us hooked in the first place. D1 does it through the slower movement and much higher difficulty, the genuinely-creepy monsters, the claustrophobic level design, and especially the pounding and intense music. I’m not saying you should reinstall D1 late tonight, turn off all the lights in your room, turn up the sound/music, and see where that takes you, but I wouldn’t tell you not to try it, either.