As a part of Summer of Arcade for Xbox 360, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair has been one of the long awaited titles I have been looking forward to. Being able to play an old school styled Castlevania game like Symphony of the Night and choosing one of six characters from the many different series just seems so appealing. I may not be one of the biggest fans of Castlevania but none the less I am one and have been since playing the very first Castlevania in arcades on the old cabinets. This game however just didn’t translate as well as I’d hope.
If you guys have followed the series before, there are many unique and stand out characters. In HoD you get to play as some of those characters again, such as Alucard, Soma Cruz, Jonathan Morris, Shanoa and Charlotte Aulin. Each with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s great to play as so many characters which means a lot of replay value, but the only problems that I see will be burning out Castlevania, and grinding levels to get certain items or souls that you want to get. With that said each character builds up with respective rare items to be found as a bonus.
Multiplayer online co-op has to be one of the best ideas in HoD. Team up with friends to tag team big labyrinths and even bigger bosses. There are good and bad things to online co-op however. If one person opens up a chest everyone obtains an item, of course everyone may not get the same item but this helps from everyone having to go into the same areas over. Also once you die it’s not automatically game over, you get to roam around the level as one of the bone throwing skeletons with a halo, and if you’re lucky enough you get to be revived by your teammate. The bad is that connecting to games isn’t the easiest thing to do. Many times I was either kicked, rooms weren’t able to connect, or rooms would just idle in the waiting for team menu screen. When I did find a co-op room that had a bunch of people ready to play it went along great.
Unfortunately there are only six levels, but the levels are vast, which introduces the zoom in and zoom out feature. Players can zoom in to single room display, 3x display and full map display. The zoom system gives you the ability to watch where your partners are on the map and where you can meet up with one another to battle through to the boss. Unfortunately there are areas on the map where you wont be able to reach unless you’re a certain character, or have a teammate to help you get to that area because of certain co-op switches or higher levels to get to. Also the higher the levels, the more challenging it gets. It’s unfathomable to think that you can solo this entire game alone, although it is very possible with the right equipment and a lot of time. I mean there are stages where bosses and traps can kill you with one shot, and enemies can stun you over and over again. This is all on normal mode though and after you complete the game the first time around hard mode is unlocked. This is where a larger variety of weapons and items can be obtained.
This game is fun to play, but only with other people online. Soloing HoD feels somewhat of a chore than a game, expect to die many times before beating a boss, many of the equipment menu stuff doesn’t make sense, when zooming the camera fully makes it look like a PS1 title and expect to farm alot through each level. If online multiplayer is not in your cards or your not a true Castlevania fan we’re not sure if its a great buy for $15, especially since the game does not support local multiplayer and we’re not sure why. Teaming up with friends and strangers alike is great, there are tons of things to enjoy in the online co-op mode. Also with downloadable content on the horizon expect to have more characters and more levels to come from the entire series of Castlevania.
Totally agree with the review. I know I only played the Demo, but the review seems to be right on to me.
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