Currently, I am playing through the Castlevania Advance Collection. The previous post was on Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, and if you want to read that review, you can check it out here: Review: Castlevania Advance Collection: Part 1: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (Switch). Today, I will cover another Castlevania game, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. Like the previous game, I had never played it before, so the time has come to see if this game holds up with my fresh eyes.
Harmony of Dissonance stars Juste Belmont, who along with his friend Maxim get trapped in Dracula’s castle seeking their kidnapped friend, Lydie. Juste plays like most Castlevania protagonists, using the vampire killer whip and a small selection of subweapons. Juste can dash to the left or right, using the corresponding shoulder buttons, which makes for a good evasive maneuver, or a way to catch up with retreating foes. Also unique to this game is the small selection of magic books, which when equipped use magic points to use an elemental spell. The spell changes based on the subweapon currently in use, though I rarely experimented with this feature, and never used it in combat, so I’m not sure how useful this feature is. Spells don’t help you solve any puzzles, so they may at most make some fights easier.
The game rewards exploration with useful items, equipment, and upgrades for looking around. Unlike in Circle of the Moon, you don’t rely entirely upon enemy drops to find something of use. There’s even a system of currency in this game, meaning you can buy things in shops so you can get more healing items, equipment, and so forth. Oddly, the merchant seems to move around, and only appears under certain conditions, so this feature feels more like a secret instead of a main gameplay feature. As such, I was never really strapped for cash in this game, and could easily afford more healing items, and some new gear, when I managed to find the merchant.
Exploration in this game is a bit hit or miss, though. While you’ll usually find something of use when you go out of your way, you can also get a little lost if you missed a required item to progress. This is due to the fact that there are actually two overlapping maps in this game, with some connections to the other map being warp points that don’t show how it connects. There were at least two occasions where I got lost, as I thought I needed a specific item to progress, only to find out that I had the means to get said item, but one or more puzzles were a little unclear when I stumbled upon it.
Perhaps the oddest part of the game are the collectibles. You can find decorations throughout the game, but they only decorate one particular room in this game. This doesn’t seem to reward the player in any way, so they appear pointless unless you are the type of player that likes to find everything. Other collectables have a use, though, even if they don’t lead to progression in the game.
Harmony of Dissonance is incidentally, an easier game than Circle of the Moon. I only used the magic book (or was it a bible?) in boss fights as the sub weapon, and rarely got any game overs. I never used magic, except to see what it does. The greater access to healing items, while appreciated, also lead to an easier time. I sort of felt like there wasn’t much pressure to put in much effort, with the exception of when I got clumsy.
I should also point out that Harmony of Dissonance has multiple endings. The content of each one isn’t really worth seeing all of them, and the secret fight to get the best ending also wasn’t particularly tough. One might want to see the best ending for completion’s sake, as well as the completion bonuses, but you might not be more satisfied for finding it.
Overall, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is a little on the easy side, yet still is a decent time. There are few experimental features here that further evolved the Castlevania formula on the Game Boy Advance. This might be a better game for less skilled players to get into the Castlevania series, but the veterans might crave a tougher game.
- Keep your eyes peeled for hidden items, some are useful, some are mandatory, some are optional.
- Keep an eye out for the merchant. Stay stocked on health items, and maybe buy some new gear too.
- Find everything for the true ending, if only so you don’t have to play the finale over again.
- Try the boss rush mode, and hidden characters, if you need more out of this game.
- Classic Castlevania gamplay.
- The dash action is handy.
- Easier access to health items.
- Has a shop and money.
- Game is easy for Castlevania (whether this good or bad is a matter of personal taste).
- Music isn’t bad, but isn’t remarkable either.
- The graphics are a little sloppy, even for the original hardware.
- The merchant seems to move.
- Some collectables are pointless.
- Extra endings aren’t particularly satisfying (but don’t take up too much extra time).
8.0/10 A great, if easy game
This game has a range of 8.0-8.5 based on difficulty preferences. There are some hiccups in game design, but nothing bad enough to make this a poor game. While not the best Castlevania has to offer, it isn’t the worst either.
What do you make of Harmony of Dissonance? What is your favorite spell or subweapon? What do you make of the difficulty? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button, and share on social media. To keep up with That’s All Games, you can subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!