Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (known in Japan as Akumajou Dracula: Harmony of Despair, the former sub-title loosely translated to "Devil's Castle Dracula") is a 2D horror-fantasy side-scrolling platformer-adventure game developed by KCE Tokyo and digitally published by Konami for the Xbox 360 on August 4, 2010. It was later released for the PlayStation 3 on September 27, 2011.
A spin-off of the Castlevania series (and the first in the series to take advantage of a high-resolution display, hence the abbreviation "HD"), Harmony of Despair focuses less on a single-player narrative and more on online co-operative multiplayer (for up to six players at a time) in large multi-room levels and grinding for loot and experience.
The game includes five playable protagonists (later upgraded to 11 through DLC) from various games in the series. Each character has their own assortment of weaponry, spells, and sub-weapons based on the games they originated from. One DLC character, Simon Belmont, is based on his retro 1987 Castlevania appearance, while another is a guest character from the retro 1987 game Getsu Fuuma Den. Both characters also have their own deliberately-retro stage.
Much of the game's elements (including online co-operative multiplayer) was later used in the 2019 mobile-focused spin-off Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls.
Up to six players must work together to navigate each multi-room level, help each other find weapons, spells, and items, and defeat each level's boss.
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 players return to the lobby.
In multiplayer, players who are killed turn into weak skeletons and cannot do anything other than jump and throw bones at enemies. Player skeletons who are killed again end up respawning at the cost of three minutes from the timer. Players can also find a unique item, the Water of Life, which can revive other players.
While players cannot level up their characters, they can level up character spells and sub-weapons (either through constant use or by finding duplicates of them) to increase their power.
The base game features six very large multi-room levels based on previous games in the series. All of each level's assets, including architecture and enemies, are culled from previous Castlevania games.
The game later received five additional levels as paid DLC, adding new enemies, new bosses, and new spells/subweapons for most characters.
- Chapter 2: Lord of Unseen Strings (Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Puppet Master)
- Chapter 3: The End of Chaos (Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Menace)
- Chapter 7: Beauty, Desire, Situation Dire (Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Ashtarte) - Released on September 29, 2010 for $4.99 and included in the PS3 version.
- Chapter 8: The One Who Is Many (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Legion) - Released on January 12th, 2011 for $3.99.
- Chapter 9: Lord of Flies (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Beelzebub) - Released on January 19th, 2011 for $3.99.
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
Each of these themes come 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)
In addition, the Chapter 10 download includes 9 songs recorded from the original NES version of Castlevania. They are not included in the game's 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
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.