In each level you have 30 minutes to beat the boss of the area and continue on. There are multiple ways to get to said boss in each level, but it does behoove you at least early on to open up whatever treasure chests you can see on the map to gain money and items. There are also points on the map where the Grimoire icon is. Here you can go in and change your offensive and defensive loadout by pressing the right trigger. The negative part of this is that you cannot change your setup at any time, something you can do in most games in the series.
I am very impressed by the level design and even though I wasn’t playing through a game with a deep storyline, there is a lot of fun to be had both alone and with others, at least early on. The only problem with playing on your own is that you are going to have a tough time beating the bosses whereas if you had multiple people you’d be able to hit them from all sides. Along with this you can also pull of combo moves if other people are playing that result in massive damage (queue robotic history crab). Another bonus to playing co-op is the ability to resurrect dead players with the water of life item, although you can also play as a straight skeleton while being dead. Another plus to co-op is that any item picked up or chest opened will be duplicated for all characters, so the opener is not the only one that benefits.
Even though the game has no real story, this is a fun experience whether playing alone or with up to five other people. Once you know the paths to the end boss of each level you may become disinterested in the game, but joining up with other players will usually mix it up a bit as you start at a different Grimoire than you would in single-player. Ultimately I feel you can find many hours of enjoyment in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, helped no doubt by the three game modes; single, survival and co-op. If you're in this for only the solo experience you're going to want to skip Castlevania: Harmony of Despair at $15. Co-op is where it's at and is an enjoyable experience. Dracula beware there's six of us coming!
Part of this is review is adapted from the original review written by Loren Halek for Colony of Gamers. That review can be found here.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with friends as one of the famous vampire hunters from the Castlevania series.The game also features a survival mode.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.