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
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
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