Rise of Nightmares Review

  • Chopping zombies to bits
  • The auto-walk feature
  • Unexpected plot twists
  • Awkward control scheme
  • Lack of enemy variety
  • Too much hack, not enough horror

The Kinect hasn’t offered much in the way of a hardcore, Mature-rated, motion-controlled experience, as of yet. However, Sega’s new first-person horror game, Rise of Nightmares, aims to give Kinect owners another reason to get up off their couch other than to pet tigers or dance along to Britney Spears. Does it succeed, or does the Kinect functionality just hinder the horror?

In Rise of Nightmares, players will step into the shoes of Josh, a loving husband, alcoholic and father-to-be, who’s travelling through Eastern Europe with his wife. While traveling by train through an oh-so-spooky forest, Josh’s wife Kate is kidnapped by a hulking monster wearing a yellow trench coat and metal facemask. The train derails outside the sanctuary of the mad scientist Victor to cover the monster’s escape, leaving it up to Josh to jump, duck, dodge, hack, slash and kick his way through a medieval castle to find Kate and a means of escape. Josh soon finds that the evil scientist has been conducting experiments on corpses, replacing their limbs with mechanical prosthetics and bringing them back from the dead.

For the most part, the story doesn’t ever do much more than present one horror cliché after another and gets rather convoluted and flat-out weird at the latter portions. There are a few likable twists that change up the gameplay for a level or two, giving Josh the power to blast enemies with a fireball from an energy glove and giving the player a chance to control the trench coat wearing behemoth, but those sections are short lived. The story and atmosphere never live up to the game’s horror classification. The story forgoes any suspense buildup for hacking and slashing, and the game’s environments feature some of the most well-lit dungeons we’ve ever seen.

The gameplay in Rise of Nightmares comes in two parts – flailing and frustration. The game pits players against the walking undead without the traditionally trusted zombie repellant found in the cartridges of a 12-gauge shotgun. Instead, items like metal pipes, hatchets, knives, and even chainsaws can be picked up and used to dismember and decapitate Victor’s unfortunate victims. Weapons have different characteristics, with blade weapons being most effective against the fleshy parts of the zombies, while blunted weapons being best at breaking off mechanical parts. However, these bonuses have little effect in actual gameplay, as swinging any weapon back and forth will easily best almost any bad guy coming your way. Boss fights consist of gesture-based quick-time events with more hacking and slashing and are easily conquered.

Chopping up the horde of zombies can be fun for a short period of time, but zombies are pretty much the only enemies players will encounter. There are several types of zombies, like exploding, spitting, and singing zombies (players must cover their ears to avoid damage), but there aren’t any other kinds of mutated lab experiments one might expect to find in a mad scientist’s castle.

Rise of Nightmares boasts about being a first-person Kinect game that’s not on rails, but it probably should have been. The controls are clunky and far from intuitive. Movement is controlled via body gestures: Put one foot forward or behind, and Josh will move in the respective direction; turn a shoulder, and Josh pivots. Sound easy? Well, not so much. The walking gesture often didn’t register correctly, either causing Josh to walk at a snail’s pace or move in the wrong direction entirely. The shoulder-based pivoting gesture was awkward through the entire game, making it difficult to walk without running into walls constantly.

Trying to manage these unintuitive controls becomes infuriating, especially in the heat of battle. Moving about the world fares no better, making exploration not worth the effort. The one saving grace is the auto-move feature, activated by raising up the right hand. Once activated, it automatically takes players along the critical path, putting the game on the “rails” and giving a much-needed break from the terror of having to constantly perform lunges.

Rise of Nightmares could have been a passable romp through a zombie-infested castle of terror, but the frustrating controls, lack of horror elements, and sub-par presentation make it a game that’s difficult to recommend, especially for the mature audience it’s meant for. There are plenty of F-bombs dropped and lots of blood and gore, but anyone looking for a mature story, strong presentation, and innovative controls should look elsewhere.

Sep 6, 2011

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Published by: Sega
Developed by: Sega

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  • michaelK - September 14, 2011 3:09 a.m.

    you are so funny :-) No, I´m not kidding, I really love this game. Now I´m waiting for The Gunstringer, it looks good too and have a great reviews and score on
  • LordGremlin - September 9, 2011 2:50 p.m.

    Kinect is garbage, by that time everybody figured that one I guess. But would you look at how many of those things MS sold. A lot of stupid people around, especially in US (?)...
  • michaelK - September 7, 2011 1:23 a.m.

    I can´t wait to get this game. On youtube, there´s a bunch of great reviews by users. I love Kinect, it´s something new, I love DC, Sports, carnival game, gunstringer etc. I love AC, GOW, COD and all of that stuff, but sometimes is great to stand up from your sofa and just have ,,motion fun" :-))
  • BlueScorpion91 - September 7, 2011 3:54 a.m.

    Something tells me your be sarcastic, lol.
  • Vulneratus - September 10, 2011 2:03 a.m.

    So.... someone works in Microsoft's R&D department... Motion Controls = utter gimmick... I'm just gonna do what every other self-respected gamer should... just sit back, and wait for the whole thing to blow over... whoa, unintentional Shaun of the Dead reference there... nice
  • Mfchimichanga - September 13, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    Really, do you ever feel like randomly standing up when watching a movie or reading a book? Clearly not the point of any of these things and it just distracts from the game. Standing won't make any difference in the gameplay and really kinect hasn't done anything revolutionary or worthy if attention.
  • psycho ninja 4 - September 16, 2011 5:28 a.m.

    Umm, you do know the kinect and all games involved suck right. I know what you mean by it being different but you may as well play something fun.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - September 6, 2011 11:47 p.m.

    The problem with all the new Kinect titles is that in their rush to convince us that Kinect is going to change gaming forever none are working within the confines of the technology, thats why none of the shooters are on-rails, trouble is the kinect is useless for exploration. They need to look at the technology they have, the limits on its potential, and the benefits, people buy Kinect to play FUN games, on-rail shooters are fine and can still do amazing things, check out child of eden or house of the dead overkill
  • TheJerseyDevil - September 6, 2011 7:17 p.m.

    aaaaand this 4/10 game is currently plastering the sides of your website with their ads... kinda funny to read, "This game is a piece of s*it!" right next to "RISE OF NIGHTMARES, FOR KINEEECT!!! U SHOULD TOTALLY F*CKIN BUY IT!!!!!"
  • bazoombaa - September 6, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    That is super weird..but at least that shows that the reviews are impartial--regardless of who Gamesradar's advertisers are..that's pretty refreshing, i'm tired of "game news sites" that just regurgitate what their advertisers tell them to.
  • Viklandian - September 7, 2011 12:53 a.m.

    Nice to know even game websites can make money out of the latest 'stupid camera thing' drive. Although, if the casual gaming market is as tapped as everyone seems to think, they'll be the only ones. Not complaining or anything - I hardly even noticed the ads until they were pointed out here, and they do look a little tacky.
  • Vault Boy 3001 - September 7, 2011 2:33 a.m.

    Exactly what I was thinking lol
  • keklar - September 7, 2011 7:36 a.m.

    I wouldn't have even known about this because I never see the ads. :) AdBlock Plus FTW! (Firefox add-on)
  • erreip199 - September 6, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Its kinda Obvious the controls are clunky, Josh is an alcoholic right??
  • bazoombaa - September 6, 2011 8:35 p.m.

    Best comment on here hahaha
  • adrianserrano156 - September 6, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    The Kinect is a great concept, but so far no developer has really used it to its full capability aside from Child of Eden which is an awesome Kinect game. So far its all Wii wagling but with a camera instead of the Wiimotes.
  • miljean - September 6, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    Awesome review!! I saw the commercials for this and I thought it was a unique idea..but like most games that are the first of it's kind, it seems like it sucks based on your review..can't wait for someone to make a game in this genre that's actually quality, with good controls.
  • Redeater - September 6, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    So almost a year later yet another reason not to own a Kinect presents itself. This is EXACTLY why people shouldn't be early adopters. I hope you kids out there still enjoy replaying your Dance Central. If you think that Star Wars game is going to redeem this expensive hardware purchase I have bad news for you........
  • reesesforlunch - September 6, 2011 3:24 p.m.

    Dance central, fruit ninja kinect, child of eden.
  • Redeater - September 6, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    Except Fruit Ninja is $0.99 on the iPhone and it is generally accepted that Child of Eden is better played with a controller. So if you like paying $150-200 for Fruit Ninja and a game that plays better and more accurate with a traditional controller.....shine on you crazy diamond!