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"Diablo IV" is more Christian than you might think
Slaying demons and fighting to preserve life and goodness -- what could be better?
The fourth main title in a franchise going strong since 1997, the new ARPG Diablo IV sees an epic confrontation between an angel and a demon, with the fate of humanity caught in the middle.
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If you haven’t played the series before, let’s give some quick background for a very dense history.
In the previous lore of Diablo, humans are a result of the union between the outcast angel, Inarius (voice of Gabe Kunda), and the Daughter of Hatred, Lilith (voice of Caroline Faber). Together, they created the mortal world, a place known as Sanctuary. Their chaotic relationship does not last and Lilith is eventually banished from the human realm. Inarius ultimately seeks to return to Heaven, no matter the cost to the humans who worship him (because he literally formed a church about worshipping him). Likewise, Lilith finds a way back to Sanctuary, determined to open the way to Hell and seize control of humanity.
And now the story…
Diablo IV begins with the Wanderer, a human saved by a mysterious force only to end up embroiled in the battle between Inarius and Lilith. They embark on this quest with less than a handful of allies with the single goal of stopping the Daughter of Hatred.
Our hero's primary target is the demon queen who seeks to seduce humanity with the promise of power and a place by her side. Inarius is no peach, but he’s also not a threat to all of Sanctuary.
As far as graphic content, cutscenes do contain some gory and bloody depictions of violence. This is alleviated somewhat in gameplay which uses an overhead bird's eye perspective, but plenty of viscera still abound. If you have a sensitive stomach, this is not the game for you. Additionally, there are some occasions involving crude language or revealing clothing, but this isn’t frequent.
While some may find the Diablo landscape grim and sinister, it closely resembles the gothic horror aesthetic. This literary genre is characterized by a battle between humanity and supernatural forces, often within a bleak environment haunted by the past. Think about Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or a more contemporary example in Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
But isn’t the game anti-Catholic?
There are those who look at Diablo and see mention of churches and priests (few of whom are truly good) and feel like the game makes a mockery of their religion but after many hours of gameplay, this simply isn’t the case.
Although inspired by many religions, including Christianity, the mythos of the Diablo series is clearly rooted in fiction. Creating fictional metaphysics to discuss the realities of good and evil is a long tradition in fantasy, including by Christian writers.
Let’s do another quick dive into lore: At the beginning of time, there was a first being (but not one who’s really considered a god) who purged himself of all evil and thereby created the first Prime Evil. The ensuing battle between these two entities led to the creation of the universe, demons, and angels. The struggle between these two emerging forces is called the Eternal Conflict. The Prime Evils and their demonic offspring are definitely evil. Heaven is the source of all goodness but even angels can fall — as is the case with Inarius, who gets so wrapped up in his own self-serving goals.
The Church of Light is full of corruption, yes, but it’s also a church founded by a cruel angel. There are individuals within who want to root out this corruption, and there are plenty who embrace it. Diablo IV shows us both.
To sum up…
What is especially engaging about the story is the nuance and complexities of Lilith as the antagonist. Unlike the Prime Evils, she herself is not pure evil (although she is certainly manipulative and vindictive, she shows sorrow, remorse, and love towards certain characters). Likewise, Inarius is held up as a beloved figure by many in Sanctuary, but he reviles humans and only sees them as tools to be used for his own ends. It’s extremely well done how morally grey they are.
The conflict between good and evil is indeed eternal. On its surface, Diablo IV is about slaying demons and saving humanity, but there are many deeper themes for players to explore as they delve into the world of Sanctuary.