Mixed or average reviews - based on 62 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 62
  2. Negative: 6 out of 62
  1. Xbox World 360 Magazine UK
    A fascinating multiplayer experiment, but also a really solid, streamlined single player 'vania. [Nov 2010, p.120]
  2. From the enhanced 2D glory that we have grown up with, the amazing customizable enhanced classic soundtrack, six player Co-Op, to the time tested proven gameplay, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is an amazing addition into a series already known for quality titles.
  3. Harmony of Despair is Castlevania's first attempt at a multiplayer Castlevania with the usual gameplay and it really delivers quite an experience for a hardcore Castlevania fan!
  4. Game Informer
    Early levels are frustrating when going solo, but bringing a few friends along makes it a significantly more manageable and fun experience. [Sept 2010, p.92]
  5. The co-op and competitive modes make this game ripe for several playthroughs, and finding all of the game's items creates an additional challenge.
  6. Edge Magazine
    It's certainly going out with a bang. [Sept 2010, p.97]
  7. 80
    A game centered on replay. With five characters and six chapters, the game counts on players to visit and revisit the castle to improve their scores and find new treasures. Dismaying as the rate of reward may be, I'm excited to tear this incarnation of Dracula's Castle wide open. Repeatedly.
  8. It's not a bad game, it's just not the Castlevania we wanted.
  9. Compared to other Castlevania games, Harmony of Despair's world feels like a bit of a patchwork. The thrill of discovery is gone, and in its place is the compulsive drive to acquire loot. Oddly enough, it works, and it can actually be a lot of fun with friends.
  10. While Castlevania: Harmony of Despair contains a good but not quite stellar multiplayer experience, and is fairly far from an enjoyable single player game, I must say can't wait to see what Konami pulls off with an improved follow-up.
  11. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a valuable game, especially for its multiplayer co-op and survival modes. But if you're looking for a deep and fascinating single player experience, you'll be disappointed by the extremely high difficulty and complete lack of any plot.
  12. Is Despair an enjoyable game? Yes, but it's not the definitive co-op Castlevania game that fans were hoping for.
  13. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a multiplayer game first and a single-player game second. This is a daring twist on a tried and true franchise, one that may split a lot of gamers. The good news is that this experiment mostly works, even if it comes at the expense of a proper single-player mode.
  14. It doesn't give a good first impression, but Harmony of Despair delivers new and exciting gameplay opportunities for an old series.
  15. If you have been waiting for another 2D Castlevania game with an epic quest to complete, sadly Castlevania: Harmony of Despair isn't the game for you. If, on the other hand, you've wanted a multiplayer cooperative action adventure game to play with your friends, then this one has quite a bit to offer.
  16. 75
    Only a modest success and there is definitely room for improvement. The focus on multiplayer came at the cost of the single-player experience. With so little of the game explained, some players may find themselves confused or, worse, frustrated.
  17. 75
    The single player game is all but useless here unless you love repeating the same things over and over again, but when you get a solid group of players together for a six-man castle romp, things really open up.
  18. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair may not quench the thirst of all vampire hunters out there, though it does provide hope for what could lead to a solid, traditional 2D adventure.
  19. In the end, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair winds up being greater than the sum of its parts. Despite having many flaws, it still winds up being an enjoyable experience online.
  20. Even though the game is excruciating frustrating and difficult at times, when linked with other players, the game really shines, especially if you have a full assorted of gamers to play.
  21. Once you've clocked enough playthroughs to upgrade your character's stats and worked out each enemy's attack patterns, the game starts to open up and you'll find yourself enjoying the run-throughs.
  22. games(TM)
    It's a time-or-score attacker's dream. [Issue#100, p.142]
  23. At a glance, it might appear like a simple trip down memory lane, but spend some time with it, and you will find a game with an immense depth and great challenges. A good, exciting and alternative Castlevania experience, that might be too focused on multiplayer for some. Try before you buy.
  24. Would we have preferred a new 2D, HD Castlevania that employed stunning new sprites instead of recycled heroes, villains and environments from the past 13 years? Hell yes. Does that make this game inherently bad for not being what we hoped? Definitely not. Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into.
  25. In the end, Harmony of Despair is a paradox. Konami wants Castlevania fans, the gamers who are most likely to enjoy the game to its fullest, to pay for content they've already played. First-time players, on the other hand, will probably enjoy the game less, even though all of the content will be new to them.
  26. If you're a Castlevania maniac like me you're going to have an absolute blast playing this game, but my love for the series isn't enough to look past its many shortcomings. As a concept I think it works really well, it just wasn't executed in a way that will make the game accessible to newcomers to the series.
  27. X-ONE Magazine UK
    Ultimately, to get the most out of Konami's latest, you're going to need to team up with friends. [Issue#63, p.103]
  28. Harmony of Despair has a heap of issues, but any hardcore fans of Castlevania owe it to themselves to buy this game with a group of friends.
  29. 70
    Harmony of Despair works as a multiplayer game for series followers, but won't convince the rest of the players easily.
  30. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair works more like a game that goes on within the definition 2D more than would be expected in terms of reinvention of progression as with Symphony of the Night.
  31. 70
    Harmony of Despair is extremely entertaining for fans of platform games and most certainly for fans of the franchise. The gameplay works great although we had our hopes set on a little bit more innovation.
  32. Official Xbox Magazine
    This game was designed for multiplayer, so if you can't find at least one other person to share the pain, knock off two points from our score. [Oct 2010, p.86]
  33. Harmony of Despair is a game for fans of the franchise. The gameplay works great although we had our hopes set on a little bit more innovation.
  34. The game offers cool action and a lot of fun. The boss battles are quite hard sometimes and you might get a little frustrated, but overall it's all about fun here.
  35. I'd recommend Harmony of Despair only to the savviest of Castlevania fans, as they'll probably stick with the multi-player long enough to appreciate its moderate value and admirable, but flawed evolution of the classic formula.
  36. Ultimately, Harmony of Despair is an interesting take on multiplayer gaming, but it isn't really Castlevania in anything other than name only.
  37. Unlike Symphony of the Night and the DS games, which I would recommend to anyone, it's hard to imagine that non-Castlevania fans will get any enjoyment out of Harmony of Despair.
  38. Too derivative from previous games, especially the Nintendo DS ones, and too much multiplayer oriented.
  39. If you aren't familiar with the difficulty of the Castlevania games previous to SotN you will probably see Castlevania HD as nothing but an exercise in frustration. If you want to get into Castlevania you can pick up the excellent Symphony of the Night from the Xbox Live Marketplace - and while it doesn't have multiplayer you're much more likely to have a good time.
  40. Konami brings co-op and general multiplayer to the Castlevania table. Even though it has some really great parts, it has a couple of bad as well. In the end, Harmony of Despair probably is mostly for hard core Castlevania fans.
  41. A great disappointment. The single player is boring, and while the game is fun in co-op mode, the poor balance of the characters and a bad level design strikes a fatal blow.
  42. If you enjoy Castlevania, if you don't mind time limits, if you don't mind having to replay levels numerous times, and if you can deal with minor irritants like not being able to share teammate-resurrecting Water of Life items (in fairness, the game does let you keep playing as a skeleton even if you've croaked), then you'll probably have some fun hacking and slashing your way through Harmony of Despair - but that's a lot of "if"s.
  43. 60
    Harmony of Despair is a beautiful achievement, but the poor gameplay and frustrating design is a huge stain on an otherwise colorful canvas.
  44. This "new" episode of Castlevania is an interesting experiment which fails in few aspects of the main design. The single player experience is kinda of Missing In Action, sacrificed on the multiplayer altar. The idea is cool, but the final result is a barely sufficient game.
  45. Harmony of Despair leaves a weird taste in the mouth of a Castlevania fan. It's like a patchwork of gameplays that weren't really supposed to be sewed together for multiplayer, yet that kinda stands upright without us really knowing how. But after hours spent discovering it's "only" 6 castles, all that remains is some tribute Time Attack coop game that isn't quite what we'd have hoped for a Castlevania multiplayer experience.
  46. In the end, exploring the well designed levels, hunting all the items and killing the very last boss of Castlevania : Harmony of Despair beat the heroes' slowness and this little feeling of repetition, so unusual for the saga.
  47. Without the cliché but fitting story and the progression that reminds us of RPGs from the previous Castlevania-games, what remains is a game that doesn't feel quite like the latest entry in this series. This mostly revolves around the multiplayer and it's pretty much the only reason to get this game.
  48. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair looks gorgeous and has some cool ideas, but ultimate it feels like Castlevania Lite -- a stripped down version of a real Castlevania game with none of the depth or clever design.
  49. This Xbox Live title changes the classic Castlevania formula with regards to gameplay as well as overall difficulty and level design. When experienced in co-op there is definitively fun to be had here, but solo adventurers looking for a great Castlevania experience will do best to look elsewhere.
  50. The entire game can be completed in under an hour with an organized team, although a Hard difficulty will test the skills of the most devoted fans. Beyond that, there is nothing to keep players' interests past an initial run.
  51. Unless you are a diehard fan of the series this is probably not your game. It can be extremely tough, especially at the beginning, and it just does not bring anything new to the franchise other than online co-op features.
  52. Despite a litany of grievances, the multiplayer is at least moderately entertaining and I do think that die hard Castlevania fans will get some mileage out of it.
  53. Only for diehard fans of the Castlevania franchise. The rest should try the demo version, as the game is a bit special and will not appeal to many gamers.
  54. 50
    There are some interesting, even good ideas in here. It would probably make a good multiplayer component for a better side-scrolling action game. But I honestly can't see the experience HoD offers remaining engaging for more than a few hours -- even for the most passionate Castlevania devotee.
  55. Harmony of Despair tries to hop onboard the contemporary co-op bandwagon, but in doing so it sacrifices almost everything that makes the series good to begin with.
  56. It's clear that Harmony of Despair tries to be something different but it's almost impossible to do when the contents of the game are recycled. It's like a horrible person trying to turn over a new being a horrible person.
  57. Igarashi has given the series another infusion, but unyielding maps married to middling combat amounts to drudgery, whether players are going it alone or en masse.
  58. Let's be straight here: Harmony of Despair is a frustrating game. What should have been a step forward into new territory seems to have landed in some sticky bat guano.
  59. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair has some neat ideas, but a lot of it's hidden behind a bevy of poorly explained menus and user-unfriendly mechanics. The expectation that you'll grind your way through the six chapters over and over again, only to do it all over again in hard mode is kind of ridiculous, and there just isn't enough of a reward there to make all of that grinding feel like anything other than, well, a grind.
  60. The corpse of Symphony Of The Night proves far too putrefied to work as a co-operative platformer.
  61. Harmony of Despair isn't a failure of concept but a failure of ambition, one that leaves Koji Igarashi still waiting for his next great discovery.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 48 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 48
  2. Negative: 10 out of 48
  1. Aug 16, 2010
    An interesting idea for a game. I give it a 7 versus a lower score due to it being a relatively novel idea and working well in what itAn interesting idea for a game. I give it a 7 versus a lower score due to it being a relatively novel idea and working well in what it attempts to accomplish (i.e. being a multiplayer metroidvania style game). However, it can feel sluggish at times, and the feeling of exploration and discovery is noticeably absent once you've finished the paltry 6 levels. Granted, finding new items is always exciting, but it seems like there is too much grinding to be done. Overall, I find HoD to be a positive experience and worth a try, but perhaps only for those who are fans of the series. Playing a game like this really makes you thirst for a real Castlevania 2-D adventure on an HD console, though... Full Review »
  2. Aug 10, 2015
    Although it may be hard to get into, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a fun and extremely addicting game. The first level is sure to get anyAlthough it may be hard to get into, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is a fun and extremely addicting game. The first level is sure to get any one frustrated with its difficulty, but as the player gains powerful items it becomes much easier to get through. Because of this, many players will likely beat certain chapters over and over in the attempt to get a good item. With the addition of many different characters to play as and level up, the replay value is quite high. The online multiplayer proves to be very smooth and requires teamwork to beat a level. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is therefore a hidden gem in the cluster of old Xbox Live Arcade games with great gameplay, replay value, and multiplayer. Full Review »
  3. Aug 27, 2010
    Whoever decided to put an 8-bit graphics style game on XBLA is a bit out of touch. Now I'm not saying 8-bit is bad, but let's be honest. ThisWhoever decided to put an 8-bit graphics style game on XBLA is a bit out of touch. Now I'm not saying 8-bit is bad, but let's be honest. This game came out in the same month as LIMBO, a game that managed to look gorgeous with only two colors, and Lara Croft GoL, a combat platformer with very nice graphics. The game was unoriginal, offered a terrible navigation and menu setup, and looked like it was from the 1980s. Not worth the money. Full Review »