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Stable game
Developer Blizzard
Theme Fantasy
Influences NetHack
Released 1997 ({{{relver}}})
Updated 1997 ({{{updver}}})
Licensing Commercial
P. Language C++
Platforms Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation
Interface Graphical, Mouse-based
Game Length Few days
Official site of Diablo


Diablo by Blizzard is considered by many to be a commercial roguelike, a roguelike that was graphical and real-time. Developers Brevik and Schaefer had in mind a graphic version of the "old Unix-based games". Eight months into development, the decision was made to make the game real-time as opposed to turn-based. Diablo is by all accounts a Roguelike, but with graphics and real-time gameplay.

Quotes from interview with developers included in Diablo: The Official Strategy Guide:

"They said their game would be Rogue, Moria, and NetHack meet Crusader: No Remorse and DOOM," Producer Bill Roper says. "Now that was something different. We all loved the old Unix-based games, and when we took a look at the design documents, we just had to go with it."
Brevik and Schaefer had kicked around the idea for a different type of role-playing game from Condor's founding. Brevik was a long-time fan of the old Unix-based games, those simple dungeon hacks that were different every time you played them. "It was all text," Brevik says, "so you were really just moving the squiggle around to fight the letter 'A.' Not all that exciting. But we thought, what if we gave them a graphic treatment?"

Similarities to Roguelikes

  • Diablo features a world similar to Moria: a town level where you can buy things and a multi-level dungeon below.
  • The dungeons are randomly generated, so is the item and monster placing.
  • The game is hack'n'slash focused.
  • Inventory management is an issue (again similar to Angband, Nethack, and most other Roguelikes).
  • All the standard roguelike subset features of cRPG's apply (classes, character levels, stats, etc)

Differences to Roguelikes

  • Diablo has graphics. This difference isn't unique today - many traditional roguelikes have tilesets, many in-dev roguelikes have graphics. Also, isometric perspective was also used in roguelikes. The only thing that differentiates Diablo here is the fact that it has animations and nice isometric-tiles (Iso-Angband). Yet, this is something that a unpaid hobby developer usually can't do on his own.
  • Diablo is realtime. This one also might be considered invalid as a distinguishing feature. Some of the recently developed games that want to be called roguelikes have realtime (for example 3059 or Egoboo).
  • Diablo has music and sounds. Well, here DoomRL is a counter-example of a roguelike game that successfully implements sounds and music. Also some Angband and NetHack interfaces have sound.


The designers of Diablo admitted in an interview that they were inspired by NetHack. Whether Diablo is a part of the roguelike genre remains an open question.

An interesting project was undertaken by Kornel Kisielewicz in this field. He took the original underlying mechanics of Diablo and implemented them into a roguelike framework as his 7DRL entry. He based on the pre-release demo of Blizzard, so the amount of contents is heavily reduced. The result was a simple, yet playable coffeebreak roguelike called DiabloRL.