Castlevania: Harmony of Despair ReviewSeptember 28, 2011
Castlevania Harmony of Despair is an interesting title. It’s the first game in the long-standing series to feature multiplayer. Not only does it feature it, but multiplayer is the main focus here. It’s quite hard (not to mention boring) to play this game on your own. However, if you play the game like Konami intended, and if you’re an old-school Castlevania fan, you will have fun.
You get to choose one of the legendary Belmonts, as well as other characters from the Castlevania universe, and rampage through seven levels with your buddies. You can play online with 6 people or offline with 4, the choice is yours. Castlevania Harmony of Despair doesn’t tell you what is different about the characters; hell, it doesn’t really tell you anything. The first time you jump into a level, you’ll have no tutorial and no idea what to do. You are shown the boss of the level, and one would assume you must figure out how to get to him. When I first started playing I was taken aback by how small my character was, and I needed to sit close to the screen just to see what was going on. The game should have told me right away that clicking the right analog stick zooms in the camera view.
Speaking of zooming in the camera, it doesn’t do this game’s visuals any favors. It appears that much of the art assets were taken from other Castlevania games, such as the Nintendo DS Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. They may have looked great on the small screen, but blown up on a big screen HDTV, these sprites are unforgiving. After playing the great looking BloodRayne Betrayal, it makes one long for a true HD 2D Castlevania. The music is the standard Castlevania fare, with some cool symphonic metal playing throughout.
Seven maps isn’t a whole lot, but the point in this game is replaying the levels and getting stronger, and finding new weapons, armor, and money. If you’re not playing with 5 other players with good armor and weapons, you’re going to die, repeatedly. However, the game does have a very addictive quality. Even though you can’t level up, the game does save the changes you’ve made to your character’s offensive and defensive states. Strewn about throughout the levels are multiplayer-only shortcuts, such as levers or elevators that only two players can use. If you’re playing solo, you’ll need to take the harder path. In this manner, the game reminded me of LittleBigPlanet. Unfortunately, you can’t add bots to play with you while playing solo.
The PSN version of Castlevania Harmony of Despair contains DLC from the Xbox LIVE Arcade version. There is also a lot of DLC already available for the game on the Playstation Store, such as Simon and Richter Belmont character packs.