Diablo II was one of those games that I had the chance to play at the perfect time. The time when I had a brand new PC and a lot of free time. So I played the game over and over for a couple of years both online and offline. Now I don’t have that much free time and when I do, I try to play games for the purposes of review. Nevertheless, I’m always looking for titles that make me feel like I’m fifteen again, a time where the only thing that mattered was getting back from school, just so that I could hack and slash demons in hell.
Ever since the original Diablo came out in 1996, numerous clones have popped up. Since not all of them are worth your time, I compiled a list with those that are. Before moving on to the actual list, these are some of the parameters that I took to make the list: games on this list have to be action-RPGs with fast-paced combat and it helps if you can play them on old hardware and if they are pretty to look at.
10. Path of Exile (PC)
Path of Exile’s final version hasn’t been released yet (it’s expected to come out sometime in 2013,) but while the only version you can play at the moment is in beta, the game has already been praised. Path of Exile shares more similarities with Diablo II than Diablo III, but that seems deliberate. Unlike most titles on this list, the graphics are quite demanding, so take that into account before installing it on your aging laptop. By the way, when the final version of the game comes out, it’ll be free to play.
9. Bastion (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, iOS, Google Chrome, Linux, OnLive)
Originally released on Xbox Live Arcade, Bastion took the world (the world of video games at least) by surprise. While this game’s main selling point is its meticulously constructed universe and active narrator, underneath all those components there’s a compelling hack and slash game. Note that there’s not a lot of replayability and no multiplayer, but Bastion is still a game worth playing.
8. DeathSpank (PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Unlike most games on this list, DeathSpank is equal parts action-RPG and comedy (Ron Gilbert was behind this game, which explains a lot.) In the game, the player assumes the role of a character called DeathSpank as he tries to find a legendary item known as The Artifact. What does this mean exactly? You’ll have to find hundreds of enemies to obtain several pieces of equipment. Interestingly, the game adopts many elements from traditional graphic adventures, so apart from hacking and slashing, you’ll be able to interact with NPCs by selecting dialogue options.
7. Throne of Darkness (PC)
Throne of Darkness has often been described as Diablo in a medieval Japan. Interestingly, that’s not the only difference to Blizzard isometric RPG series, since Throne of Darkness features tactical team combat. Once the player has selected up to four characters, those characters can assume various formations and battle monsters.
6. Nox (PC)
Although released in 2000, this is still remembered as one of the best Diablo clones ever made. There are three classes to choose from and each of them has a unique storyline, which means that there are multiple hours of hack and slash to be had. Sadly, the online servers have been taken down, so the only option to play with others is via the old-fashioned LAN connection.
5. Dungeon Siege (PC, Mac)
Some have described Dungeon Siege as Diablo in 3D and while this explanation is accurate to a certain extent, the game isn’t effective in everything it tries to accomplish. Still, the Dungeon Siege series mixes the mindless clicking action so proper of the Diablo series with the strategic action of classic RPGs such as Icewind Dale and Fallout where players manage a party of warriors. The original Dungeon Siege holds up quite well, offering compelling multiplayer modes and dozens of hours of playtime.
4. Fate (PC)
Not only is Fate similar to Diablo, but this is also the precursor to the Torchlight series. So in a sense, Fate is the best of both worlds. The traditional hack and slash action is here, but there are also cartoony visuals, the ability to select pets as companions, fishing mechanics and of course, tons of loot. Fate has been praised for being able to draw the attention of both casual and hardcore players, so if you enjoy the genre, this game is for you. No multiplayer though which is definitely a shame.
3. Sacred (PC, Linux)
Sacred has mythical monsters and a medieval setting, so just by looking at it, you can see a clear distinction with the Diablo series. Look a little deeper though and you’ll find an awfully familiar experience. There are six classes to choose from, many environments to explore and a variety of skills and abilities to master. When you get tired of playing alone, you can sink your teeth in the multiplayer mode.
2. Titan Quest (PC)
Titan Quest might be an obvious Diablo II clone, but it’s hard to complain when it’s such a good one. It looks good, it has two expansions, a multiplayer mode where up to six players can participate and there’s even a LAN option for those who refuse to embrace the future. At the time of its release, Titan Quest was a quite demanding game from a hardware perspective, but nowadays, you can easily play it on a laptop.
1. Torchlight (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Linux)
If you’re looking for a game similar to Diablo, it doesn’t get better than Torchlight. But while Torchlight adopts many of Diablo’s components (such as the traditional hack and slash combat,) Runic Games’ title has a couple of new tricks of its own. For instance, having a pet at all times is one of the most fresh additions, as well as the cartoony visuals and the possibility of installing modifications. Although the original Torchlight doesn’t feature multiplayer options (though this functionality can be added via mods,) the game has a netbook mode which is perfect for those who usually struggle with the minimum system requirements.
These are some of the games that didn’t make it to the final cut: Neverwinter Nights, Divinity series (Beyond Divinity, Divine Divinity,) Icewind Dale, Loki: Heroes of Mythology, Din’s Curse and Darkstone.