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Review: Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

Posted by on October 12th, 2011 | 0 Comments | Tags:

Castlevania Harmony of Despair is a 6-person multiplayer game that incorporates numerous different versions of Castlevania.  On paper the experience sounds like a dream come true, but unfortunately, the game lacks the proper depth that Castlevania fans are rabid for.

Modern Castlevanias employ experience, unlockable skills, and drops to increase the power of your character.  Not this game.  Looting is the only way to raise character stats in this game.  There’s no hippogryph jump, no kick boots, and no leveling up.  And that is the point of this game, to loot as much as possible.  Scattered across the map are numerous color coded treasure chests that you and your teammates race to get.  When you open a chest, each person on the team gets a random something out of it.  If you wanted to, you could idle at the start point while the other people on your team do the entire map, and you can still reap the rewards (Not like I would ever do that :P).

HoD gives you the option of controlling Soma Cruz, Alucard, Jonathon Morris, Julius Belmont, Shanoa, Charlotte Aulin, and Yoko Belnades.  Each character is ripped straight from their respective game, so some clashing visuals are bound to happen.  I didn’t have that much of a problem with it, as it was kind of funny to see an 8-bit character running around with Alucard dishing out old school attacks.  Each character has their own gimmicks as well, allowing for slightly different play styles.  For example, Shanoa can absorb certain magic spells from enemies encountered in the game, where Soma can absorb souls from fallen enemies.  Currently there are 4 DLC characters that you can buy for $1.99 or $2.99 each, but I didn’t get to test these out.  I came across a few people that bought them and they also have their own unique abilities to them.

HoD comes with 6 chapters to play through, and since PSN got this game a year after it came out on Xbox, they included 1 DLC level for our troubles.  Levels take about 8 minutes to get through, so this isn’t that long of a game.  Of the 7 levels I played, the design of each didn’t thrill me.  Each level has a loose theme using certain strung together assets from old games which include set pieces, enemies, and bosses.  Rooms are loosely strung together without much meaning, and come off as having a very patch-worked feel to them.  For each level, players have a half-hour to reach and kill a boss located in the level (time can be docked depending on how many times players die).  Rinse and repeat for 7 levels and you’ve experienced the whole game.  Just like characters, there are 4 additional DLC levels available on the store.  These cost $2.99 or $3.99 a piece.  To truly experience this game, it looks like you need to almost buy it twice with the amount of DLC options out there to nickel-dime you.

Though this game is vastly different from the Castlevania formula of recent games, it is still a fun time taking down this game with a few friends.  I found this game vastly more difficult without those few friends too.  Though there is local single player, without a properly equipped character, you could be looking at long trudge through the level, only to be defeated by the boss and have to start all the way over.  The local multiplayer gets too zoomed out to enjoy it, so I stuck with online.  I experienced no lag with this game, but some odd connectivity issues in lobbies.  Sometimes after completing a level, the game would get stuck on the loading page of pages turning in a book.  The only way out was to quit the game and restart.  A very irritating glitch.

Players will have fun with this game if they’ve played other Castlevanias, but it sure is a shame that developing your character is so limited.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

  • No Experience Points
  • The Book Loading Pages
  • Level Design Isn't Ambitious