Robert and myself are back again for another episode of the WindyCornerTV Podcast, where we talk all things gaming, recent releases, gaming news and an overview of the games we’ve played and reviewed. In this episode we have an in-depth discussion of the recent Diablo II Resurrected Technical Alpha, the VR visual novel Altdeus: Beyond Chronos, Robert’s experience with Record of Lodoss War, and the comedic NPG (no-playing game), Say No! More.
Watch/listen here, and be sure to check out the channel for more:
Are you keen for Diablo II Resurrected, or have you tried out any of the other games we discussed? Leave a comment or reach out on our socials and let me know!
Evil has resurrected. But after 20 years, has Diablo II aged like a fine potion, or has is it dated and shrivelled up like a wrinkly Deckard Cain?
Over the last four days I have been almost non-stop bingeing the Diablo II: Resurrected Technical Alpha on PC, which ran from the 10th – 14th of April and gave select individuals the chance to try out this revamped version of Blizzard’s classic dungeon-crawler RPG. Players were given the chance to participate by signing up, however I managed to score a code through fellow gaming website, IGN Australia, who I had the opportunity to play on behalf of.
Much to my delight, I soon discovered that Resurrected is truly the definitive version of Diablo II that fans have always wanted. In sticking with the original gameplay Diablo II has become so well-known for, Resurrected adds unmatched graphical detail, finesse, and multiple quality-of-life changes to truly bring this cult classic into the realm of modern gaming.
But what’s so good about Resurrected anyway? If it’s the same gameplay as it was 20 years ago, is it worth playing again? Well you might find out if you’d…
What did the Alpha involve?
Though I was hoping for the chance to once again venture all the way from the Rogue Encampment through Hell and into the fearsome Frigid Highlands, the Alpha included only Acts I and II of the game without any option of choosing difficulty. This gave a short snippet of the game: enough to keep me occupied for the few days while the Alpha was active, but certainly left me wanting more. It felt quite jarring to finish Act II without the ability to leave Lut Gholein and sail East towards to Kurast.
Choice of class too was limited. All seven familiar faces stand in front of you around the campfire at the “Select Hero Class” screen, however you only have the option to choose from three: Amazon, Barbarian, and Sorceress. Having played primarily as Paladin and Druid in the past, this came as a bit of a shock, but it forced me instead to step outside of my comfort zone and pick a class I normally would not. Eventually I picked Barbarian, not because of his well-defined rock hard quads that you get to admire each time you boot up the game, but because his emphasis on dual-wielding and melee abilities was more suited to my style of play.
After completing Act II with a Barbarian and dying against Duriel multiple times, I decided to play through the game again choosing the Sorceress class. This came as a massive shock after playing such a resilient melee character. Replayability of the alpha was limited to playing through these same two acts as the three different classes, but still kept me entertained and occupied.
What has changed?
You’d have to have a light radius of 0 not to see the biggest change of all in Resurrected: the visuals. A game that once ran in 4:3 at an impressive resolution of 640 x 480 (and increased to 800 x 600 in Lord of Destruction), now has been brought into the realms of modern gaming in full 3D. Finally you can experience Diablo II in glorious 16:9 without the need for a mod! Graphical options are plenty and can be adjusted to suit your PC – I ran the game at 2560 x 1440 at maximum settings and had a consistent framerate of >60fps, though the game can be run at higher resolutions if you have the capacity.
What impressed me most about this 3D visual upgrade was the game’s ability to retain the dark, gothic aesthetic of the original’s environment and enemy designs, all while adding a level of detail as if it were a game created only recently. You’ll immediately be able to recognise every single character, item, enemy and small environmental detail from the original game despite the graphical overhaul. Even the game’s UI and menu’s are significantly more detailed while retaining the feel of the original. As an added feature, at any point in the game by pressing “G”, you’ll be able to swap between Resurrected and Legacy graphics, which is a nice touch even through it likely has little functionality.
Aside from the graphical changes, there are a few other improvements to the interface, options and gameplay that help to update this now 20-year-old game. The character selection screen now feels like logging into World of Warcraft or Diablo III, instead providing a detailed view of your character, their equipment, and an intricate backdrop of whichever area you most recently saved in.
There are also several new settings compared to the original, including accessibility options for those with low vision or colour blindness. One of the most satisfying changes is “Auto Collect Gold” which is set to default, meaning that you won’t have to spend time frantically clicking on coins after they fling out of a chest. Simply walk over the gold and your character will pick it up. A game-changer!
What hasn’t changed?
Literally everything else. This is Diablo II: LoD gameplay almost completely untouched. Every movement, attack, spell and interaction feels 100% as it did all those years ago, and fans of the original will appreciate this far more than newcomers to the series. Every dungeon and encounter has been lovingly recreated in the updated art style, blending traditional gameplay with an attractive modern aesthetic. Most notably, the boss fights still feel exactly as they used to, as I especially noted while facing off against Duriel, trapped in the tiny arena chugging potions rapidly.
Through my time playing the alpha there were several other elements that had not been changed – the audio including sound effects and soundtrack, while having been remastered, is almost identical, though now sounds crisp and clean. As a massive fan of Matt Uelmen’s atmospheric and ambient score, I’m glad there have been no significant changes made. The inventory system also is identical – same number of slots, ability to swap between two sets of weapons, and the use of your character’s stash (both personal and shared).
Reportedly cutscenes have been completely remastered, though in the technical alpha you’re presented with the original cutscenes (which now appear incredibly pixelated!) along with a VISUAL PLACEHOLDER stamp in the bottom right to give you the impression that these are not being kept.
Were there many bugs?
After playing for approximately 20 hours, bugs I encountered were few and far between. In fact, the most common bug I encountered tried to kill me and shot electricity when I attacked it (damn you, Death Beetles!). Though in all seriousness, the game played almost flawlessly. There was the occasional graphical glitch, such as a model popping in or the odd enemy clipping through a closed door. One of the more amusing bugs I encountered was after breaking down the door to Duriel in Tal Rasha’s tomb. After assembling the Horadric Staff, a beam of energy shatters the wall leading to the boss fight. Upon exiting this area there wall would return intact as if to say, “Don’t go in there, Duriel will f*ck you up.“
Though my experience was mostly uneventful, other players found more interesting bugs, such as one that gave the ability to easily duplicate items. This is the purpose of an alpha test, after all.
Although changes are minimal, Resurrected will make you happy to double-dip into what is essentially the same game with a fresh coat of paint. Those who spent hundreds of hours in slashing away in single player or online attempting to climb the ladder will undoubtedly feel right at home. Having played through Diablo II: Lord of Destruction only months ago, booting up Resurrected was as simple as jumping back into the game I already knew so well.
Newcomers to the series may be surprised by Resurrected’s simple, looping gameplay, as in the last couple decades RPGs have become increasingly complex. By today’s standards the game is easily approachable and does well to ease you into a challenge. Hopefully this will also expose a new generation of gamers to an experience often considered as one of the most iconic, influential PC games ever made.
In conclusion, Diablo II: Resurrected is without a doubt the game Diablo fanatics have dreamed of for years. While Resurrected has revitalised the game’s visuals tremendously, it manages to do so while retaining the most important aspects that fans have grown to love: traditional RPG gameplay, and a dark, gothic aesthetic. So, will it be it worth playing? Yes, without a doubt.
“You’re gonna suffer, but you’re gonna be happy about it.” – Ronald Weasley on Ghosts n’ Goblins: Resurrection (probably)
If you grew up playing video games in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you had some exposure to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series: a side-scrolling platformer known for its notoriously brutal difficulty, unforgiving gameplay, and protagonist Arthur who strips down to his boxers to rescue his beloved princess. What started as an arcade game (no doubt designed to chew through unsuspecting children’s quarters) eventually gained enough popularity to garner entries on almost every gaming platform ever made, as well as numerous spin-off games (including the much-beloved Gargoyle’s Quest/Demon’s Crest).
Above: the original arcade release, Ghosts ‘n Goblins on NES, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on SNES, and Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins on PSP.
Well, for those masochists out there that played the previous games and didn’t drown in a pool of their own tears, or crumble under the sheer weight of their own shame, the series has been Resurrected and finds its way onto Nintendo Switch with a brand new entry: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection.
Do you play a Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for the plot? Of course not. Though they still added one anyway. Like a storybook, the game quite literally unfolds in a scroll to reveal Arthur and Princess Guinevere enjoying stroll on a grassy knoll (as royalty are oft to do), when the helpless Princess is picked up and carried away by demonic forces. Princesses have a tendency to get into situations like this, because why else would our heroic protagonist venture through so many treacherous circumstances if not for love? It’s cliché, and almost identical to all the previous games, but this doesn’t really detract from the game in any way.
In order to save the Princess, you’re required to navigate through numerous hazard-filled levels, scattered with demonic forces who will stop at nothing to break Arthur’s armour and see him humiliated in his boxer shorts. It’s a simple premise that newcomers will find easily approachable and does not stray far from the original formula, which will please series veterans.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And Capcom has done just that: changed very little in Resurrection. Gameplay is what you would expect from the series, with multiple challenging levels combining tricky platforming with punishing enemy placement, and massive boss fights that will have you almost throwing your controllers in frustration. Arthur can take multiple hits as his armour dismantles, however powerups are plentiful and seem strategically-placed alongside checkpoints to help you with some of the more difficult segments.
Combat is a crucial aspect of Ghosts ‘n Goblins – you are given access to 8 different weapons which are dropped at random by enemies or found in chests throughout the level. Some have significant reach like the lance, while others hit closer but deal heavy damage like the hammer, as a result you will have to choose the best weapon for your situation. You’re also locked into attacking in only four directions adding to the retro feel of the game. Though this combat might feel archaic in any other brand new game, it seems fitting for Resurrection, as the gameplay feels just as it did decades ago.
Some neat additions have been included in Resurrection, most notably its adjustable difficulty. The player can choose difficulty (Page -> Squire -> Knight -> Legend) at the beginning of a level and on the fly. After dying you’ll be prompted whether you’d like to swap to an easier difficulty. It’s nice to have the option, even if I ignored it the entire time for risk of damaging my own pride.
Levels are now scattered with Umbral Bees, which appear like floating spirits that can be collected on contact. Some of these are in very precarious locations, or require quite a bit of skill to collect. These can be spent on a literal skill tree, which will unlock attacks, passive and active abilities that can be used during gameplay. Equipping these to your Magic Waistband will unleash devastating attacks to decimate enemies on-screen, or my personal favourite which duplicates Arthur and any of his attacks.
If you’d rather not suffer alone, you can now die alongside a friend! The addition of a co-op mode lets player two join in as one of spirits, each of which have unique abilities that can aid Arthur in his quest. It’s a simple addition, but if you’ve got somebody willing to assist, it might just give you that extra leg-up you need to overcome a tricky level.
Without a doubt the most unique aspects of the game are its visuals and artistic direction. The entire game, menus, environments, enemies and bosses are all designed as if they belong in a picture book. It can be a bit jarring for those who have played previous Ghouls ‘n Ghosts games and will likely polarise many players. While I found it to be a bit odd at first, the aesthetic soon grew on me and I eventually found it to be not only quite attractive on the small Switch screen, but very fitting considering the level design moves across like an animated scroll.
Where the previous games in the series have been either pixel art or quite simplistic 3D designs, the new art style of Resurrection seems to offer a refreshing take on existing characters/enemies and adds a level of detail not seen in the series.
If you’ve played the previous games, you’re probably more than familiar with many other songs you’ll hear in Resurrection. You’ll probably also have slight PTSD hearing them too. What’s brilliant about the soundtrack to Resurrection is how it incorporates the original chiptunes. In paying homage to many of the original songs, the actual chiptunes play at the same time alongside orchestral rearrangements of the songs. It’s almost as if you took a medieval band and a baroque orchestra and you gave them a Gameboy and said, “play this futuristic instrument.”
Most of the themes loop regularly, and you’ll hear them repeat constantly with each death, but I never found them to be grating. The composers have made music for some notable Capcom titles, including Marvel vs. Capcom, Devil May Cry and Monster Hunter. Overall it’s a short but sweet soundtrack coming in at 35 minutes, but cleverly blends chiptunes into vastly-different musical styles.
Visuals and minor changes aside, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection brings back classic retro gameplay that feels just as if it could have been released 20 – 30 years ago. Though this may not appeal to some, it’s a game that is fuelled by nostalgia and will certainly please existing fans of the series. In introducing difficulty levels that can be changed on the fly, Resurrection makes the series more approachable for those who aren’t skilled at platformers or become easily frustrated by failure.
So why should you play it?
You like challenging games (or are a masochist).
Looking for a game that can be enjoyed in short bursts.
You’d prefer simple, arcade-style gameplay over complex games.
You’ve previously played and enjoyed any of the other Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles.
But why shouldn’t you play it?
If you become easily-frustrated by failure.
You’re not a fan of retro games.
Not good at platformers? This is not the game for you.
A review code was provided for the purpose of this review.
After months of speculation and rumours, Blizzard have finally officially announced the release of Diablo II: Resurrected for PC, PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series S|X. The gameplay looks like it stays true to the original, while offering updated graphics and widescreen gameplay. It will have an RRP of $69.90 aud on launch, or $80 bundled with a copy of Diablo III.
Will you be playing through Diablo II again? It’s easily one of my favourite games of all-time, and I only just did another playthrough last year, but I’m still pretty keen to get my hands on this! Pre-registration is open now: https://diablo2.blizzard.com/