Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (known in Japan as Devil's Castle Dracula: Harmony of Despair) is a 2D horror action-adventure platformer developed by KCE Tokyo and published by Konami for the Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade on August 4, 2010) and PlayStation 3 (via PlayStation Network on September 27, 2011).
The third game released for Microsoft's Summer of Arcade 2010 promotion, Harmony of Despair is the first Castlevania game to take advantage of high-resolution graphics (hence the abbreviation "HD") and features online co-operative multiplayer for up to six players at a time. Unlike previous Castlevania games, Harmony of Despair focuses less on a single narrative and more on grinding by finding loot and, in the case of certain characters, continuously using spells and subweapons.
During Konami's E3 2010 press conference, game producer Koji Igarashi explained that the concept for the game came from his dream to "fill an HD screen with gorgeous Castlevania dot art". While most of the art assets were borrowed from previous games, the game features real-time zooming, so that players can examine the entire level and locations of all the players at any time.
The game features incredibly large multi-room levels inspired, and its assets all culled, from previous Castlevania games. Up to six players must work together to help each other find weapons, spells, and items, and defeat the level's boss. There is no standard leveling system in the game. The only leveling system in the game is for character spells and sub-weapons. Through either constant use or finding duplicates of the same spell scroll, these attacks become more powerful.
Each of the game's stages are timed to half an hour. If that time runs out (or all of the players die), the game ends and the team has to traverse the entire stage all over again. In multiplayer co-operative mode, there exists a unique item in blue chests called the Water of Life, which can revive other fallen players. Players who die turn into weak skeletons (who cannot do anything other than jump and throw bones at enemies), only differing in appearance from enemy skeletons with a halo over their head. Player skeletons who die end up respawning at the cost of three minutes from the timer.
The game features six very large multi-room levels based on previous Castlevania games (as well as the 1987 Konami action RPG Getsu Fūma Den), each with their own end boss. More levels are planned for release as downloadable content, complete with new bosses and enemies, as well as new spells and subweapons for some playable characters.
While Castlevania: Harmony of Despair can be played with up to six players at a time, there are only five playable characters available without any downloadable characters installed. Multiple players can pick the same character, where they pick from up to eight different palette swaps of these characters. Each character has their own unique special abilities, taken from their respective appearances, such as Alucard's mist form and Shanoa's glyph magic. Some items and weapons can only be equipped on certain characters. More characters have been released as downloadable content. However, characters using downloadable characters you do not own have the sprites of the Axe Armor instead.
Soma Cruz The protagonist of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Soma can equip a wide range of weapons and armor, including a pistol and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and can (at random) absorb souls from defeated enemies to use as special abilities. There are three types of souls Soma can use: Enchant (which provides passive benefits such as stat boosts, immunity to status ailments, and the ability to spot hidden breakable walls), Guardian (which Soma can summon to aid him, such as monsters, at the cost of draining MP), and Bullet (special spell/subweapon attacks that mimics the former owner of the soul). Finding duplicates of souls will increase the effectiveness of those souls. Soma can also use a special attack on certain weapons by doing a quarter-circle-forward motion and then attacking. (Doing this will cost some MP.)
Alucard The protagonist of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard is the only character who can equip shields and is one of the two characters at release who can purchase and use swords and other conventional weaponry. Alucard can only find spell scrolls as random loot (while starting off with Summon Spirit), and finding duplicates of spells will increase the power of those spells. Alucard also has the ability to temporarily transform into his mist form to dodge enemy attacks. Like Soma, Alucard can use a special attack on certain weapons using the quarter-circle-forward command.
Jonathan Morris One of the two protagonists of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jonathan is the only release character to utilize a whip (the Vampire Killer) and sub-weapons (making him ideal for fans of earlier Castlevania games). Jonathan begins with the knife subweapon, but can collect other classics, such as the axe, the cross, and holy water, as random loot. Each sub-weapon has a certain MP cost, and their power increases the more Jonathan uses them. As the sub-weapon levels improve, so does the power of Jonathan's whip. He can also learn Martial Arts scrolls, special techniques which require a certain joystick and button combination, as random loot.
Shanoa The protagonist of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Shanoa utilizes glyph magic to absorb spells from certain enemies and the Magnes ability to reach areas on the map that other characters cannot access easily (by attaching herself to small circular magnets floating in mid-air and launching from them like a bow). By holding up on the joystick whenever a certain enemy (ghost witches and nova skeletons) produces a glyph in the air, Shanoa would absorb it, which she can later use as spells. There are four elemental spells that Shanoa can absorb and, similar to Jonathan, using the spells increases her overall attack power with her main weapon glyph. She starts out with two Confodere rapier glyphs for weapons, and can later replace these with certain weapon glyphs found very rarely as loot, Lapiste and Pneuma.
Charlotte Aulin One of the two protagonists of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Charlotte can access a wide repertoire of offensive spells, such as fireballs, and defensive spells, such as healing. However, she only begins the game with Fireball, and must absorb enemies' magic attacks and certain projectiles with a magic shield to learn new spells and power up her existing ones. Charlotte is the only character who can heal allies around her, making her an optimal choice for a support character. Powering up Charlotte's spells (by absorbing the same spell multiple times) will also increase the power and range of her main weapon, which is initially pretty weak. Charlotte is the only release character that cannot execute a jump kick from a double jump.
Julius Belmont A supporting character in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Julius is a downloadable character that was released on November 24, 2010 for $2.99. Like Jonathan and the Belmonts, Julius also uses the Vampire Killer whip (as well as martial arts) and increases his overall attack strength by using various sub-weapons. Despite his limited array of sub-weapons and martial arts, Julius uses an enhanced version of the whip. He can swing it in one of eight directions (similar to Simon Belmont in Super Castlevania IV) and can swing from Magnes glyph points (previously reserved only for Shanoa).
Yoko Belnades A supporting character in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Yoko is a downloadable character that was released on November 24, 2010 for $2.99. Along with the Belnades Staff (which levels up the more spell scrolls she finds), Yoko uses three spells: Holy Flame (a powerful close-range fire spell), Holy Lightning (in which she throws out five enemy-seeking orbs of lightning), and Blue Splash (in which she surrounds herself with blades of ice). She starts with all three in her repertoire, and levels them up by finding duplicate spell scrolls. Like Charlotte, Yoko cannot execute a jump kick from a double jump.
Richter Belmont The protagonist of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and supporting character in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Richter is a downloadable character that was released on November 24, 2010 for $2.99. Like Jonathan and the Belmonts, Richter also uses the Vampire Killer whip (although he is restricted in the number of directions he can attack with it), and increases his overall attack strength by using various sub-weapons. Despite not having full functionality of the whip and sub-weapons, Richter utilizes a variety of martial arts, making him more versatile in close-quarters combat and movement.
Maria Renard A supporting character in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Maria is a downloadable character that was released on November 24, 2010 for $2.99. She maintains her youthful appearance from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and uses her various animal helpers as weapons.
Simon Belmont The protagonist of Castlevania (and its many iterations) and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Simon is a downloadable character that was released on January 26th, 2011 for $1.99. Unlike the other characters (with the exception of Getsu Fuma), Simon is rendered in 8-bit form, no matter what level is being played. (Often making him appear smaller than the normal characters) Like Jonathan and the Belmonts, he wields his version of the Vampire Killer whip, and becomes stronger by using subweapons (the same subweapon set as Julius and Richter, minus the Ricochet Rock). He cannot twirl his whip in any direction and can only whip left and right, but he is slightly quicker with it than the others. The sprites used for the whip change as Simon levels up. With a quarter-circle-forward motion, he can launch a fireball, a reference to Christopher Belmont.
Getsu Fuma The protagonist of Getsu Fūma Den, Getsu is a downloadable character that was released on February 2nd, 2011 for $1.99. Like Simon, he is also rendered in 8-bit form. His basic sword attack emits a wave of energy that levels up along with Fuma's subweapons and a spin attack when he double jumps. Additionally, his Up command taunt (as seen in his portrait) can do a small amount of damage. Fuma has has access to three subweapons: the War Drum, the Throwing Stars, and the Hexplosives.
The soundtrack to this game features new arrangements of themes from previous Castlevania games (with the exception of the Chapter 11 themes), as well as some new compositions. Players can use any selectable track as the main theme and/or boss theme for each chapter. Konami have also released two music packs as paid downloadable content, each containing five music remixes. Downloading Chapter 10 also gives players access to the entire soundtrack of the original NES version of Castlevania for use in levels.
- Ruined Castle Corridor (from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow) (default Chapter 1 theme)
- After Confession (from Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow) (default Chapter 2 theme)
- Into the Dark Night (from Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow) (default Chapter 1 boss theme and Chapter 2 boss theme)
- PHANTOM OF FEAR (new composition) (default Chapter 3 theme)
- Piercing Battle Fury (from Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow) (default Chapter 3 boss theme)
- Gaze Up at the Darkness (from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin) (default Chapter 4 theme)
- Esquisse of Violence (from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin) (default Chapter 4 boss theme)
- Ebony Wings (from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia) (default Chapter 5 theme)
- Symphony of Battle (from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia) (default Chapter 5 boss theme)
- The Colossus (from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia) (default Chapter 6 theme)
- Order of the Demon (from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia) (default Chapter 6 boss theme)
- Dance of Illusions (from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
- Hail from the Past (from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin) (default Chapter 7 theme)
- Piercing Silence (from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin) (default Chapter 7 boss theme)
- Tanz mit einem Clown (new composition)
- CRIMSON BLOOD (new composition)
- Ein Weltherrscher (new composition)
Music from DLC Chapters (comes with their respective chapter downloads)
- The Lost Portrait (Lost Painting from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) (default Chapter 8 theme)
- Poetic Death (Death Ballad from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) (default Chapter 8 boss theme)
- Castle Dracula (Dracula's Castle from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) (default Chapter 9 theme)
- The Horde's Festival (Festival of Servants from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) (default Chapter 9 boss theme)
- Vampire Killer (from Castlevania) (default Chapter 10 theme)
- Nothing to Lose (from Castlevania) (default Chapter 10 boss theme)
- Go! Getsu Fuma (from Getsu Fūma Den) (default Chapter 11 theme)
- Ryukotsuki (from Getsu Fūma Den) (default Chapter 11 boss theme)
Music Pack 1 (released on October 13, 2010 for $1.99)
- Pitiful Scion (Alucard's theme, The Tragic Prince from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)
- Pitch-Black Intrusion (Soma Cruz's theme, from Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow)
- Invitation of a Crazed Moon (Jonathan Morris's theme, Crazed Moon from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin)
- The Hidden Curse (Charlotte Aulin's theme, from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin)
- An Empty Tome (Shanoa's theme, from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia)
Music Pack 2 (released on November 10, 2010 for $1.99)
Bonus NES Castlevania Music (comes with Chapter 10, not available on OST)
- VAMPIRE KILLER
- WICKED CHILD
- WALKING ON THE EDGE (actually OUT OF TIME)
- HEART OF FIRE
- OUT OF TIME (actually WALKING ON THE EDGE)
- NOTHING TO LOSE
- POISON MIND
- BLACK NIGHT