Intro: Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a new multiplayer Castlevania game recently released by Konami over XBOX Live Arcade. The general gameplay is heavily inspired by the Castlevania games on the Nintendo DS and Symphony of the Night (originally on the Playstation). If a Castlevania game that finally has a strong multiplayer component intrigues you, read on. If you are new to the game and want to improve your level quickly then a great option for you is that you opt for modded GTA 5 accounts. That has high-level accounts so that you can enjoy a seamless experience in your Castlevania: Harmony of Despair game.
Graphics: The graphics are standard Castlevania fair. The game mixes and matches many graphics and enemies from previous Castlevania games on the Nintendo DS and Symphony of the Night. You can expect the same labyrinth feel to the levels with various settings and of course, the same gothic art design. Many of the same monsters also return, which will make Castlevania fans feel right at home with the game. Overall the graphical quality isn’t particularly impressive, but it allows the game to run fluidly with no slowdown on the action.
Gameplay: Harmony of Despair offers a similar, yet unique gameplay experience when compared to other recent Castlevania games. You’ll be making your way through dungeons, fighting enemies along the way, looking for hidden rooms, and taking out bosses. Each level you attempt will have a 30-minute time limit for you to complete the level from start to finish. The time limit is only ever really a limitation if you spend a lot of time exploring rather than going towards the goal, however. Each level is completely separate from one another as well, and generally fairly short.
You can choose from five characters from previous Castlevania games. Charlotte and Jonathan from Portrait of Ruin, Soma from Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow, Shanoa from Order of Ecclesia, and Alucard from Symphony of the Night. These characters all retain unique gameplay elements from their respective games. Alucard can get various weapons and find spell scrolls to learn new spells and increase the power of his spells. Soma can also use various weapons and absorb souls from enemies he defeats to use their properties to his advantage. Charlotte learns spells and upgrades them by absorbing enemy magic. Similarly, Shanoa absorbs enemy glyphs to learn spells and upgrades herself. Jonathan can use sub-weapons and make them stronger by finding them throughout the levels.
There isn’t a traditional level-up system for the characters in this game. Instead, each character gains new weapons/spells/attacks through their unique gameplay elements and their attacks become stronger. You also earn money which you can use to buy equipment and items to increase your character’s overall strength as well.
The game is very heavily focused on multiplayer. Fans of the older Castlevania games may be put off at first by the lack of strong single-player experience in this game. Playing by yourself is extremely limited in terms of being able to progress efficiently and find hidden rooms in the levels, among other things. Going online and playing cooperatively with others through XBOX Live can be incredibly fun, though. Exploring the labyrinths, finding items, and taking on monsters with friends can make for a great experience. The smaller levels with a time limit further emphasize this.
Learning/Difficult Curve: Harmony of Despair is a hard game, no doubt about it. However, it’s not particularly punishing either. Dying at a level is something you can expect to happen a lot, but when you die you keep all the money and items you’ve found, and all the weapon/skill/spell development you’ve earned through your character’s unique gameplay mechanic. So even if you’re having trouble with a level, keeping at it will allow you to continue strengthening your character until the challenge is more manageable.
Sound, Controls, and UI: Controls are generally the same as in previous Castlevania games, but they don’t feel as responsive as they should be and in general the user interface isn’t documented very well. It’s not a big enough detriment to making the game unplayable, but it is certainly noticeable. The sound is standard Castlevania fair as well. There are some remixes from the games that the playable characters come from, with a lot of sound effects also coming from previous games. If you’ve played a few Castlevania games before this one, you’ll know what to expect. Overall the music and sounds don’t stand out too much, but some of the remixed tracks will be nice for fans to hear.
Summary and Closing: Harmony of Despair is Castlevania’s first major venture into multiplayer gameplay. Unfortunately, it loses most of its single-player luster in the process of going multiplayer. Anybody who wants Castlevania gameplay with cooperative games mixed in should purchase Harmony of Despair, but those looking for a good traditional single-player Castlevania experience should stay away and look elsewhere. The game does have some flaws in the UI and lack of documentation, but they can easily be overlooked for what the game does offer. Harmony of Despair can be purchased through Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15).