For me, Diablo II: Resurrected has a big name to live up to. Even now, the original Diablo II with its Lord of Destruction expansion is one of my favorite PC games, a place where it will likely remain for all time. I have fond memories of sneaking on my dial-up internet service to play with friends online when I should have been doing homework, only to quickly log off when I saw my parents’ car pull up in the driveway. While those days are long gone, thanks to Blizzard Entertainment and Vicarious Visions, I can now take my demon-slaying quest on the go. Though I had some concerns about the transition to modern consoles, I was pleasantly greeted with an exceptionally faithful experience to the original.
Upon starting Diablo II: Resurrected, you’ll first need to make a character. The first choice you’ll have to make is whether to create an offline character or an online one. Offline characters are able to be played without an internet connection, though you’ll never be able to use them in online modes. Likewise, online characters have the option of playing with others over the internet and have cross-save functionality with other versions but can’t be played offline. Once you pick your character status, you’ll then choose from seven different classes to play as, each with their own different play styles and skill trees. Some, like the Barbarian, are melee-focused, while others such as the Sorceress are magic-based. It may take some time to get up to speed with all the choices. My personal favorite is the Necromancer, because who doesn’t want to summon an army of minions to do your bidding for you?
Gameplay is that of a traditional dungeon crawler. You’ll venture out into the world through a series of randomly generated maps as you fight your way to the boss of each of five acts. Along the way, you’ll encounter hordes of normal enemies to kill, champion and unique enemies, traps, and shrines that will bestow one of a handful of temporary boosts upon you, should you activate them. There are a number of mandatory and optional dungeons to explore as well, each rewarding you with some great loot, so it’s often worth going out of your way to explore beyond what’s required. Even if you find a good weapon for another class, thanks to shared storage, you can easily transfer it to another of your characters.
The biggest concern I had going into Diablo II: Resurrected was how it would control on Nintendo Switch. Given how many hotkeys you could utilize for skills and menus in the original thanks to keyboard controls, I was worried that moving to a platform with fewer buttons would negatively impact the overall experience. Thankfully, it made the jump fairly well. Combat abilities and a few other things can be mapped to one of 12 buttons (face buttons, R, and ZR, plus these same buttons in conjunction with ZL), leaving you plenty of room to customize things to your leisure. What did suffer a bit in the transition was the menu shortcuts, as you can no longer jump straight to your character or inventory screens without having to scroll through other menu tabs. While a bit slower than the original, this is the best option available and gets the job done well.
Where Resurrected shines brightest as a remaster though is in its graphics. Cutscenes are beautifully recreated, to the point where I shed a few tears upon booting it up for the first time. Granted, graphics have come a long way in the past 20 years, but Resurrected’s cutscenes may be some of the best I’ve ever seen on Switch. Gameplay graphics have also been overhauled and look pretty great as well. However, if you find yourself yearning for the classic graphics, you can swap to them at any time by pressing ZL and Minus at the same time. I’m glad to see this inclusion for an even truer experience.
Of course, with the good of Diablo II comes the bad, at least by today’s standards. Your inventory is the prime culprit here. Utilizing a grid-based system similar to that in Resident Evil 4, you’ll find yourself constantly having to return to base camp to offload your spoils onto one of the area merchants. Inventory space is tight and can become even tighter if you choose to carry bonus-bestowing charms on you, as they need to remain in your inventory to take effect. In some cases, I’d have to return to town two or three times within a matter of minutes, even only picking up magic items, which really slows the game down. I generally like systems like these, but with no way to expand inventory or rotate items, it feels like more of a relic of an era long ago.
As a big fan of Diablo II to begin with, I found in this review that Diablo II: Resurrected hit all my buttons and truly brought me back to my childhood. Gameplay-wise, it’s as faithful an experience to the original as you can hope to get, and while the modern graphics are dazzling, I’m here for one reason and one reason only — to kick some demon butt. Newcomers may be a bit put off by some dated mechanics, but for fans of dungeon crawlers or those who just want to relive one of the best PC games of all time, Diablo II: Resurrected won’t disappoint.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Diablo II: Resurrected was provided by the publisher.