The Ninjabot

Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance Review: A Nightmare on eShop Street!

Posted on October 24, 2014 at 12:35 am by Victor Chaves

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For the next installment of Octobervania, we take a gander at Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance, the second Gameboy Advance Castlevania game to come out on the system. Let’s address this first and foremost, this game borrows an insane amount of details from Symphony of the Night. Just from looking at these screenshots in this review, I can’t help but think of the titular classic. The question is, does the handheld counterpart compete with the Playstation classic?

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A Beautiful Castle to Behold

Once again, the main factor here is exploring the castle; hopping around and searching for save points while taking down enemies is what makes this series the best “haunted house where you fight back” simulator there is. Harmony doesn’t disappoint. Between the three GBA titles, this game takes the blood-soaked crown of pretty on its head and bathes in it like Carrie. Consistently throughout the castle are some amazing backgrounds decadent in a macabre nature with a sprinkling of downright trippy environments. It’s the sort of tapestry that requires some well-deserved admiration, like backgrounds depicting giant skeletal structures that command presence, and the giant multi-limbed creatures that undulate is a treat for the eyes. Even just plain creepy views like baroque paintings of a woman holding a headless man just adds so much to the experience of exploration!

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What is mostly impressive about the art in the castle is how much it can carry the player through to the end; where Circle of the Moon pushes you on its difficulty but not its visuals, Harmony of Dissonance is visually fun but way too easy. Besides the first maybe five level-ups of the main character, the rest of the game becomes incredibly easy with enemies being killed a little too quickly, and also enemies appearing throughout later areas that you’ve already met and weren’t made any stronger. Running through the several bosses and double-castles is surprisingly quick, since the enemies are relatively easy which just causes the game to end much quicker than you thought. The only troubles I had exploring were a few times that I didn’t realize an item I had could open a new area, which took away the sense of progression I had when playing.

 

There are couple of nice things to find that stymie that lack of progression, mainly in the rare spell book that you find. Although the Castlevania staple items are available (knives, stake, holy water, etc.), they can be augmented by these spell books to create new magic spells. Although they weren’t particularly useful with the general enemies, a nicely selected combination can really make a boss trivial. Actually, by just spamming my magic spells in my fight against the final form of Dracula, I didn’t take a SINGLE hit. It’s one thing to create interesting weapons to play with, but the balance against the use of them is way too much in the favor of the player.

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A Lack of Identity

That seems to be the problem with Harmony of Dissonance, it seems to coddle the player like a mother, cooing them with an easy progression and strong weapons. This could possibly connect with how this game tries to nostalgia-trip you with the many elements borrowed from Symphony of the Night. To mention a few, the main character Juste Belmont looks exactly like Alucard, there are shadow trails as Juste moves, the save rooms are the same as Symphony‘s and there are even two castles (albeit mirrored in a different way). This sort of referencing isn’t for any benefit but to remind me to play a much better Castlevania game, and if they wanted to make it Symphony of the Night 2, I don’t see why they couldn’t actually make a sequel instead of these tripe references.

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Final Thoughts

However, that isn’t to say that I did not enjoy Harmony of Dissonance, if anything I felt it was a stronger game than Circle of the Moon but with it’s own set of flaws. The game flies by way too quick, and the story is not even worth mentioning. The fact that this paragraph takes longer to read than the game’s ending to play shows how much you should probably not need to care about the story. Although it copied a bit from Symphony, to replicate pieces of that great game does not make a new great game. The great parts of Harmony of Dissonance occur in the art direction and the fun spells to play with, but the sum of all its parts just make it good, not great.

Presentation: 8

Gameplay: 6

Replay: 6

LEGACY SCORE: 6.7

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

All screenshots are attributed to gamefaqs.com and nintendo.com

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him STILL in a fetal position wondering if he got accepted to the University of Washington.

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