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 from various games in the series, with each character having their own assortment of weaponry, spells, and sub-weapons based on the games they originated from.
The game later received additional characters, stages, and music arrangements as DLC, including deliberately-retro characters and stages based on 80's NES platformers Castlevania and Getsu Fuuma Den (the latter being a guest appearance).
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 1: Caught in the Cradle of Decay (Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Gergoth)
- 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.
- Chapter 11: The Legend of Fuma (Getsu Fūma Den, Ryukotsuki) - Released on February 2nd, 2011 for $2.99.
The game includes numerous characters to choose from, each with their own unique weaponry and special abilities taken from their respective appearances (such as Alucard's mist form and Shanoa's glyph magic). Some items and weapons found in the game can only be equipped on certain characters. Multiple players can pick the same character, where they pick from up to eight different palette swaps of these characters.
Additional characters were been released as downloadable content. However, DLC characters have the appearance of the basic Axe Armor for players who do not own their corresponding DLC.
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: yellow Enchant Souls (which provides passive benefits such as stat boosts, immunity to status ailments, and the ability to spot hidden breakable walls), blue Guardian Souls (which Soma can summon to aid him, such as monsters, at the cost of draining MP), and red Bullet Souls (special spell/subweapon attacks that mimics the former owner of the soul). He can only equip one Enchant and one Guardian soul at one time. 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.)
The protagonist of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard can use swords and other conventional melee weaponry and is the only character who can equip shields. He can also cast unique Dark Magic spells has the ability to temporarily transform into his mist form to dodge enemy attacks.
Alucard has five Dark Magic spells to choose from: Summon Spirit, Dark Metamorphosis, Hellfire, Tetra Spirit, and Soul Steal. He starts with only Summon Spirit unlocked, and can only find spell scrolls as loot, with duplicate scrolls increasing their power.
Like Soma, Alucard can use a special attack on certain weapons using the quarter-circle-forward command.
One of the two protagonists of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jonathan is the only release character to utilize the traditional series whip (the Vampire Killer) and various sub-weapons (making him ideal for fans of earlier Castlevania games). He also utilizes various Martial Arts abilities.
Jonathan begins the game with only the Knife sub-weapon, and can collect 11 other types as random loot (with 5 others as DLC). He has exclusive access to certain sub-weapons (Boomerang, Shuriken, Kunai, Paper Airplane, Wrecking Ball, and Grenade). Similar to Shanoa, his sub-weapons can be leveled-up by using them, and leveling up sub-weapons can improve the power of his main whip attacks.
Jonathan can also find special Martial Arts scrolls that grant him special abilities, both offensive and evasive, performed using specific joystick and button combinations. This includes Danger Knee, Forward Roll, Uppercut, and Sonic Strike. In addition, he can assume a Guard stance that boosts his defense.
The protagonist of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Shanoa utilizes glyph magic to absorb spells from certain enemies (which are used both as her main weapons and her offensive spells). She can also use her unique 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).
She starts with only one Weapon Glyph (the Confodere rapier) and one Skill Glyph (Ignis). While Weapon Glyphs can only be found in boss chests, Skill Glyphs must be collected by absorbing glyphs produced by certain enemies (by holding upwards on the joystick). Similar to Jonathan, she can level-up each Skill Glyph over time by using them, which also powers-up her Weapon Glyph.
One of the two protagonists of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Charlotte can access a wide repertoire of offensive and defensive spells bound to her tome. She is the only character who can heal allies around her, making her an optimal choice for a support character.
Charlotte begins the game with only one spell (Fireball) and can absorb enemies' magic attacks and certain projectiles with a magic shield in order to learn new ones. Similar to Soma, she can level-up her spells by absorbing them multiple times (which also increases the power and range of her main weapon, which is initially very weak).
Charlotte is the only release character that cannot execute a jump kick from a double jump.
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. He is included for free in the PS3 version.
Like Jonathan, Julius uses the Vampire Killer whip, various sub-weapons, and martial arts. While his use of sub-weapons and martial arts is limited, he has an enhanced version of the whip that can not only be swung in one of eight directions (similar to Simon Belmont in Super Castlevania IV), but can also allow him to swing from Magnes glyph points (previously reserved only for Shanoa).
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. She is included for free in the PS3 version.
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. She can also find a unique item that allows her to heal herself for MP.
Like Charlotte, Yoko cannot execute a jump kick from a double jump.
Like Jonathan, Richter uses the Vampire Killer whip, various sub-weapons, and martial arts. Although he doesn't have all Jonathan's sub-weapons and martial arts, he has his own unique assortment of unlockable Martial Arts abilities.
Maintaining her youthful appearance from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Maria uses her various animal spirits (primarily doves and the Four Sacred Beasts) as weapons. She starts with all of her abilities (other than her personal "martial arts" ability), and can upgrade them by using them (which also increases the power and range of her doves, which are initially very weak).
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. He uses his original 8-bit appearance, making him appear smaller and more out-of-place than most other characters.
Like Jonathan, Simon uses the Vampire Killer whip and various sub-weapons (although he is missing the Ricochet Rock, among Jonathan's exclusive sub-weapons). Although he lacks the martial arts from other wielders of the Vampire Killer whip, he has a unique short-ranged whip fireball attack (a reference to Christopher Belmont).
The protagonist of Getsu Fūma Den, Getsu is a downloadable guest character that was released on February 2nd, 2011 for $1.99. He uses his original 8-bit appearance, making him appear smaller and more out-of-place than most other characters.
Along with his standard Pulse Blade sword, which can be used for an spin attack (when double jumping), he has access to three starting sub-weapons: War Drum (which fires waves of energy) Throwing Star (which throws multiple shurikens), and Hexplosives (which throws magical explosives that glide across the ground).
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.
- Heart of Fire (Julius Belmont's theme, from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow)
- Aquarius (Yoko Belnades's theme, from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse)
- Slash (Maria Renard's theme, from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
- Divine Bloodlines (Richter Belmont's theme, from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
- Simon's Theme (Simon Belmont's theme, from Super Castlevania IV)