Review – Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
That’s all I’ve got. A bit of quick backstory to why my life has been ruined this week, shall we? Okay, so I’ve been playing Castlevania since I was yet a wee lass. Just dragging Belmont, Richter and Alucard through the perils of each and every incarnation; whether it was 2D and sidescrolling or the horrible swill that was the 3D counterparts. Seriously, I sat through it all and though I definitely played favorites (Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow and Dracula X), I was hardly silent on my disparaging comments. The series was going to Hell in a handbasket and quickly. It wasn’t until Kojima announced in 2009 that a refresh of the series was going to happen that I actually settled myself in. Kojima said it, this meant it had to be golden.
Now, I don’t know why they felt they had to jump the shark and turn this into a Multiplayer fiesta — but they ruined my series with this. This was best left as a companion piece to a full single-player experience. The problem is, this was not worth the price of admission whatsoever. This was clunky and disjointed and with no tutorial to explain the changes they made in both single player and multiplayer, the player is left crippled. I’m getting ahead of myself though, let me point out the obvious flaws in the design.
First off, the single player is storyless. Why are all these people there? How come every homeboy and homegirl from the last games manage to all get behind the same cause? Anyone got an idea? No? Single-player is complicated only because they introduced the system of menu “books” that let you change your items, equip your defenses and change up your offense. If you do not do this, you’re running blind through the game and without making sure you’ve equipped your health potions and such during those “book reading” sessions — you’ll die. You will flat out die if you don’t know what you’re doing. Not to mention, just WHAT do you have to do to level up in this game? Hundreds and hundreds of kills later and I still haven’t seen any items or spells level up. Displeased. You know what this was like? This was like being thrown into a shoddily made Castlevania title without knowing what you’re doing. I know that’s what it literally is, but that’s the only way to explain it!
Secondly, multiplayer should’ve been an additional feature to a full-blown Castlevania title. It should not have been one of the focal points to this excursion and the maps should’ve been completely seperated from the Single Player ones. The game should’ve focused on it’s single player story and then had the additional feature of doing key chapters with your friends. THAT is what it should’ve been, but apparently somebody ran behind schedule and they just tossed all of that out of the window. Once you get underneath the hood of it though and actually get your bearings for how you should be playing the game; you’re in a Co-Op game. Let me tell you, as of print-time, I had to get someone to buy the game since I could never find teams or matches online. Is nobody playing this? I seriously had this game for almost two weeks before I finally got frustrated and just pleaded with one of my loved ones to purchase it and help me with the review. I pity the fact I made him spend his money on it though, let me tell you.
Within the actual multiplayer though rests both negative and positive additions. It is definitely nice to take a complicated chapter and run it through with another brain on the plate. Having someone there to help with certain puzzle aspects can make time go by quicker and help you see things you couldn’t manage before. That much I appreciated, but then you get this little tiny square window. What does it do? It encases your character in some magical box that follows his every move. You cannot see what’s behind him or where he is at…but you know he is either standing, running or jumping. How does this help? It DOES NOT. All it let me see was if he was at least TRYING to come near my part of the map. Other than that, the damnable square blocked my view and hid enemies from me as they attacked me and essentially was like being haunted by a mime stuck in a telephone booth. Useless. When we lost connection to our game, I didn’t know whether to be upset or relieved because that box wasn’t clogging up my sidescrolling adventure. Yes I know, you can shut it off — but then you’re left calling out into the darkness; “Are you here? Are you under or above me? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!” and there’s just no happy medium whatsoever.
That’s giving it too much credit. This was barely an adventure. A challenge, sure. Adventure? Let’s not get too excited. This was like Symphony of the Night’s dumb younger brother nobody wants to admit to. Take a page out of the book of Sonic the Hedgehog, guys. Just because you have some good games doesn’t mean you can wipe your nose all over a franchise repeatedly. We are listening and we’re not liking it.
Then again, “Mario and Alucard’s Summer Games 2011″ would be fantastic.