The next time you’ve got a few minutes to kill, you might be able to spend it playing the original Diable. No, you don’t have to haul around a computer to play the recently re-released version from GOG. All you need is a web browser and a decent internet connection. You don’t even need to own a copy of the game to have some fun, but it’ll be even more fun if you do.
Blizzard released Diablo in 1996, and it was a massive hit among those with computers powerful enough to play it. Players needed a Pentium III 1.2GHz or Athlon XP+ 1500, a 128GB video card with DirectX 8 support, and 32MB of system RAM. The PC game took up a whopping 500MB of storage space, too. Basically, it required some power. Now, it’ll run on a potato as long as the potato has a modern web browser.
You can thank the developers at Rivsoft for this new way to play Diablo. Rivsoft specializes in Blizzard-oriented software projects like the Diablo 3 Character Planner and Dota Replay Manager. Going to the Diablo landing page on Rivsoft’s site boots up the original game, and there’s nothing illegal about it!
Like the newer Diablo games, the original is an isometric top-down dungeon crawler with multiple character classes, tons of loot, and hoards demons to fight. The version of Diablo on Rivsoft’s site is the Shareware build — in modern times, we’d call this a demo. You can play the first two dungeons of the game with one of the game’s three character classes.
So, that’s plenty of fun for a web browser, but it’s even better if you have a copy of Diablo. Find the DIABDAT.MPQ file in your game directory (either on a disc or a digital version like the one on GOG). Drag that file into the Diablo window, and the full game unlocks. Ah, the joys of Shareware.
The only catch is that all the attention has made Rivsoft’s site extremely unreliable. You might need to wait a few days for the traffic to taper off before the game is actually playable. In the meantime, you can get a regular copy of Diablo on GOG for $10. That includes the classic game you can play on Rivsoft, as well as a remastered game that scales properly on modern PCs.