Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Hands-On

This downloadable Castlevania will feature cooperative and head-to-head multiplayer.

Does the idea of a multiplayer Castlevania: Symphony of the Night-style game sound appealing to you? If so, you should probably get excited about Castlevania: Harmony of Despair--a downloadable 2D Castlevania game that features a strong multiplayer element. But the major different between Harmony of Despair and its immediate predecessors is that there's no exploring element in the traditional sense as you can see the entire castle. In fact, that's kind of the whole point. At any time during a game, you can click on the right analog stick to see the entire layout of the castle in front of you, complete with enemy positions and traps that might be located in specific rooms.

If you click the stick again, you get a slightly closer view of the action, and if you click it one more time, you get the default Castlevania view. The main objective is to make it to the boss tucked away in a part of the castle that's not easy to get to, and in our demo, we had to do so within a relatively short time limit. If you find and defeat the boss, you get a new castle with new rooms and a new visual theme.

At the beginning of the demo, you can decide if you want to play single-player or multiplayer (more on that in a bit), but Castlevania fans will be pleased to know that you can also select from one of several Castlevania games of yore, ranging from Alucard and Soma Cruz to Jonathan Morris and Shanoa. All of these characters have their own unique abilities and skills, so naturally Alucard (the character we select) can turn into fog, whereas Shanoa seems to have extensive magic skills. What's also interesting is that equipment still plays an important role as it did in previous Castlevania games.

As you venture through the castle, you find treasure chests that are often filled with armor, weapons, or items, but you can't just pause the game and equip or use them whenever you want. Instead, you have to find special rooms in the castle that serve as safe houses where you can check out your gear and upgrade your character accordingly. Still, the layout of the castle is similar to those in the handheld Castlevania games, and many of the visual details are borrowed from those games, as well as Symphony of the Night, so some enemies and areas should look instantly familiar.

As for the game's multiplayer modes, we're told that up to six players can play cooperatively, helping each other to get through the castle. There's also a Survival mode where players can compete to see who the best vampire hunter is by scoring the most number of points in a given time. It sounds interesting to say the least, and we're curious to see just how cooperative play functions. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is due out later this summer on Xbox Live.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign In to Upvote

31 comments
WraithMarine
WraithMarine

It will be great game......It is an Arcade style title not a campaign kind of game, so any one who thinks it is will be let down. Think of it as a Tribute to the Castlevania games, not to mention you can kick some Vampire @ss with friends, or compete against friends. Take it for what it is!:)

gc88
gc88

i hope theres matchmaking for co-op

Darkstar_Sinada
Darkstar_Sinada

Nobody has confirmed the time limits are in the real game. It could have just been part of the trial. Considering you have safe rooms to stop and look at gear in....time limits would seem a bit odd.

RX-78MajiGundam
RX-78MajiGundam

@sudobashnet hopefully. but to tell you the truth, it really looks like bland old race mode, or boss rush that ds had. i dont care no more because of this. i have a feeling they made this to promote the new 3d castlevania game thats coming. if that is trrue, then this exclu makes sense. still disappointing.

sudobashnet
sudobashnet

@RX-78MajiGundam I agree that it doesn't look like there is going to be much if any introduction to the characters. Thats the one thing I think I'm going to be disappointed in. I'd like to at least see some sort of "worlds collide" storyline that tells us why all these heroes are needed this time around. It almost feels like it will be more of a normal titles extra mode. "You've beaten the game, now beat it with any character you want and beat it in co-op!" With no story it will just feel like repetitive hack and slash. Like Diablo II but with even less story. Hopefully I'll be proven wrong next week when its released.

covertgamer78
covertgamer78

I love the MetroidVania games and this looks like a lot of fun. Good to see Alucard back at long last in 2D!

RX-78MajiGundam
RX-78MajiGundam

@sudobashnet still. xbox faithfuls would not know who they are. and judging by the look of its gameplay, i highly doubt there would be a story to introduce them. btw im sure zooming is not a problem for the wii. they shouldve made this multiplat. im tired of random exclu. first it was capcom. now its konami.

jjmonster2006
jjmonster2006

i'm a big 2d castlevania fan, but I'm actually pretty skeptical on this one. the multiplayer sounds pretty sick, but it's appearance seems really, cramped in... if that makes sense to you.

sudobashnet
sudobashnet

@RX-78MajiGundam I would really assume that the main fault there would be in the zoom capabilities. Can you imagine how hard it would be to see anything on even the DSX's screen when zoomed out to see the entire castle?

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

Fun or another way to fall out with friends.

RX-78MajiGundam
RX-78MajiGundam

if the ds promoted all those castlevania characters, then someone must tell me why harmony is xbox exclu. fail marketing

score89
score89

Sounds fun, hope it is more a story line game than a beat em all arcade. I know everyone loves Alucard, but my favorite Castelvania character will always be Simon (Castelvania IV is the best)

ChudWarrior
ChudWarrior

@Stunt296 Thats if Alucard has a soul.... I think he does. Hopefully this one is not super short and has a lot of depth like SOTN. although during the Konami conference this was said about this game: [2:49] The gameplay will be familiar to players, but there are wrinkles. For example, enemies can now follow players from one screen to the next. [2:50] There will be five playable characters, though they might add more if the game sells well. [2:50] They also might add more stages, but that depends on the players. [2:50] "Please help promote this game," Iga pleads. SO, that means buy 2 copies when this comes out! Can't wait either way though. @belgand We will enjoy it. Very much so. I fear though, that you may in fact be missing out

belgand42
belgand42

At first I saw that it was coming out only for the 360 and I started to, well, despair, no pun intended. Then I read the article itself. Unlike Shadow Complex (IMHO, the most interesting and most wanted title Microsoft announced at their press conference last year) this really sounds odd and rather uninteresting. I hope the 360 owners enjoy it, but at least I won't worry that I'm missing out.

stunt296
stunt296

Damn, this is like one of my dream games. I'm definitely buying it ! I'll even get Gold membership just for this ! @ChudWarrior Although that is true because Alucard is a beast character, Soma is my man ! :) You gotta love his soul stealing ability ! Hell, maybe he'll just come and steal Alucard's soul ;)

huntervaneg
huntervaneg

It sounds weird... Do not take me wrong but Castlevania with multiplayer focus? Despite of my fear, I hope the best cuz I luv this franchise!

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

It's an interesting concept. Hopefully they do it right and I will most definitely be interested in it. After all, can't ever say no to another old-school Castlevania.

ChudWarrior
ChudWarrior

Hell yez! I would pay $60 for a co-op Castlevania game. Hopefully they do the co-op right. Throughout the whole campaign. Even if they do not, it's nice to see see another old school Castlevania game. Although it's going to be tough deciding who is going to get to play as Alucard.

Jag-T1000
Jag-T1000

If it cost $10 or 800 points I'll download it.

Gobbomob
Gobbomob

Not exactly sure what's going on right now, but yeah it's worth checking out. :P

DrEvilKoala
DrEvilKoala

Wait? What? No exploration? I must say that I'm a little skeptical about this, though I'll OBVIOUSLY buy it when it comes out. The 2D Castelvania's on the handheld devices were flawless if you ask me.

Raykuza
Raykuza

I think it's being developed by Microsoft Game Studios which means that PS3 users will not see this, ever. Ah well, could've had my money...

NX75
NX75

What? Huh? Still not sure what this game is. Doesn't seem to be the all-new 2D Castlevania for consoles everyone's been pining for... but what is it? Sounds like a bizarre party game. The game's based around little levels with a boss in it you need to kill, and you can see the whole level at once, and all you need to do is get there and beat the boss to move on to the next level, rinse and repeat? Am I getting this right? Not what I was expecting.

ffviiifreak
ffviiifreak

I would like to state in case you didn't know both of the Sorrow games are sequels to SOTN

6h05tly
6h05tly

The time limit aspect reminds me of the 8 and 16-bit Castlevanias. Though I never played much of the franchise during these two console eras, I actually find this idea quite fitting for HoD. Of course this is a thought and I'll see for myself if it implements well upon release. I do hope Konami also brings this title for the PS3. The 360 in my opinion receives too much attention in terms of software releases.

ffviiifreak
ffviiifreak

I am thrilled to hear about this game.

blueliquidplus
blueliquidplus

Time Limit? wtf are they thinking... I'd rather a real sequel to SOTN in 2D... time limit... pfft...

minime78362
minime78362

I guarantee the time limit was just for the demo at E3

ozzmarkk
ozzmarkk

Time limit??? Lame!! Exploraton was one was Castlevania's best aspects. (At least in SOTN)

tremor33
tremor33

Only on Xbox? I hope not. I've actually been running through the DS Castlevanias to get my fix and was just about to run through SOTN. I hope this makes it's way to PS3 because it will be a day one purchase for me