Many core gamers might say that Kinect is already a horror story in its own right. Although I find a large number of fitness games terrifying, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Kinect doesn’t have anything to offer. It just doesn’t have anything to offer the core gamer, the guys who go out and buy the latest ‘Call of Duty’ game on day one. Rise of Nightmares is Sega’s attempt to catch the core gamers eye with its grotesque violence and its mature rating. Rise of Nightmares is evidence that an M-rating doesn’t necessarily equal a good game.
Rise of Nightmares is the first M-rated game on Kinect, and it earns that rating. Now I enjoy watching a one-dimensional character meet his maker in the most violent way possible, but Rise of Nightmares ends up being gratuitous. The prologue starts with you taking control of a random guy in a mysterious castle. You eventually make your way into a room, with your significant other in hand, where out of nowhere the walls close in on you rendering you as flat as Mila Kunis’ backside. What follows are decapitations, mutilations, ripped torsos, and more. My problem didn’t lie with the violence, rather the fact that Rise of Nightmares focused more on earning its M-rating than making a great horror game.
The story doesn’t do much to convince you that this is a horror story, it just tries to fool you into thinking its one once you see people murdered and zombie creatures walking aimlessly about. Utilizing Kinect, the game puts you in the shoes of Josh as you are traveling with your wife in Romania. Your trip turns into nightmare when your wife is kidnapped by a mad scientist, your train ride then crashes leaving you abandoned until you discover the scientists enormous castle. Easy to say, the narrative isn’t very good. Anyone hoping to save a damsel in distress is better off playing Mario Bros. or Alan Wake.
The best and worst part of Rise of Nightmares lies with Kinect’s full body motion controls. Lets start with the good. Rise of Nightmares is a first-person game that isn’t an on-rails experience. With Kinect’s capabilities, the game lets control all your movements by simply moving your foot forward to walk or moving a foot back to walk back. To enter the combat position simply throw your haymakers up and swing for the fences. Any other movement that the game requires you to make after that is second nature. For instance, a scenario where you are in the water requires you to swim, now the game doesn’t tell you how you just have to know how.
As liberating as it was to be able to move around and explore at freewill, at times I wished the game was on-rails or at least on a controller. For the most part, the controls worked better than expected but in dire situations it was a disaster trying to pull off maneuvers that I wanted to do. This included the simple task of walking while I was in combat. Any time I found myself at the “You Are Dead” screen, I knew that wouldn’t have happened had I been playing on a controller. To be fair, had this been a controller based game I wouldn’t be as kind to it. I genuinely had fun when I was playing and the controls were working but once you’re deep in the game you start realizing you’re just putting one foot forward and punching away.
Kinect works wonders for Rise of Nightmares graphics. Having to stand 6 feet away from this ugly duckling of a game is the best feature Kinect provided. OK, that was a hyperbolic statement but really, Rise of Nightmares isn’t visually appealing. Although I was a fan of the way the mutilations were handled; bloody as hell just the way I like it. Also, is it too much to ask to have more zombie character models? Seeing repeats of zombies way too often isn’t cool, even if it is a zombie nurse in white stockings.
Keep starving for Kinect games to play because of Rise of Nightmares isn’t one you want to go out and buy. I appreciate the two hours of fun I had but it just wasn’t consistent. I was highly impressed that the controls actually worked, but the game teaches you everything you need to know within the first hour, and after that you’re just repeating every step in a six to eight-hour game. (including wrongful deaths and resting time)
This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by Microsoft.