Rise of Nightmares

6.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 20, 2011 in

October is upon us! This is the time of year that murderers, rapists and clowns come out from hiding and parade down the street, showing off their tools of the trade and favorite entrails. Though there is a very special breed of horror icon that puts all the others in their place, and that is the butcher with engineering skills. They don’t just know how to take you apart – but they know how to put you back together better and more efficient than nature made ya. Possibly also a bit more murderous.

This is the basic premise of SEGA’s Rise of Nightmares, available for the Kinect on your Xbox 360. Something has kidnapped your wife straight off a train in Romania, and it’s up to you to find and save her. Things that were once human will power on, spin their gears and shamble to stop you as you travel through a massive, looming fortress filled with the rusting undead.

This is probably the first FPS (first person shooter) for the Kinect to really make good use of the interface. Move your body to control your direction and place your foot in front of you to move – the further away the faster you run. Punch, kick, slice and stab – the game recognizes it all and will mimic your movements. Slash the sword in your right
hand against a mechanical zombie then punch it in the face with your left hand, then kick it square in the chest for good measure. Combat in Rise of Nightmares is damn fun.

Navigating the game world is a little wonky at first, but once you get used to tilting your body in the direction you want to move, things are… well, ok, they stay rather wonky. It’s not unplayable, however there are a few parts of the game that feel more difficult to move through than they should be. Thankfully, manual movement is not required for most of the game. Holding your right hand beside your head will put the game in automove mode, causing the character to start running on a track in the correct direction.

Where the gameplay starts to break down is picking up weapons and using objects. Weapon pickup feels good at first – you see something in the world so you hold up your right or left hand to pick it up, and the character will pick it up in the same hand. The game even shows a different cursor for your right hand vs. your left hand. Once you are holding a weapon – like a scalpel or a small dagger – try picking up a weapon with your other hand. You will pick it up in that hand, however you will always drop whatever weapon you are already holding. The inability to hold a different weapon in each hand was a huge let-down for me when playing. This is only made worse by the fact that your weapons break after too much use. Most enemies cannot be even hurt by punching and kicking, so you are forced to run. With the movement being a little wonky, this just becomes the icing on the cake of fail. I suspect many players turned off the game at this point and did not turn it back on.

The other major letdown was with object interaction. There are many points where you have to open doors, pull levers and operate machinery. Being a Kinect game, you of course do all of this with the proper movements. However, in the case of this game, the acceptance of the movements is rather delayed. So much so that – when pulling a lever, for example – you make the movement and can count a full second before anything happens in the game. I have played Amnesia, and in that game, when I pull a lever, the lever gets pulled, and gets pulled exactly with my movements. But apparently in Rise of Nightmares, secret space algebra must be processed manually by a man chained at a desk in Russia then sent back to the game by flying sloth. Thankfully, during these collective delays, I was able to write this review.

Being a first person survival horror game on the Xbox 360, we of course need to spend a minute licking the visuals and seeing how they taste. We live in a world where titles produced by small, 5-man indie teams looks simply gorgeous with state of the art shaders and intricate scenery carved by hand in clay-like modeling tools. And it would have been awesome, had Rise of Nightmares made use of either of those techniques. This is a game that, in all seriousness, looks like it was originally made for the Nintendo Wii, and at the last second someone gave birth to a lightbulb and ran into the middle of the office screaming “KINECT!”

So. Is Rise of Nightmares worth spending your hard-earned nickels on? Maybe. If you are willing to deal with some wonky controls and weird input delays, it can be a legitimately fun game. Don’t pick it up expecting a gorgeous visual drool-feat, because you aren’t gonna get it. But if you do want a game that – while isn’t scary in the least – however does give a rather fun combat experience, then this is your game.

After punching, kicking, slicing and pulling levers… slowly… I can safely give this game 3 out of 5 screaming victims tied to electric chairs.

A copy of Rise of Nightmares was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Dave Calabrese View all posts by
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dave has always looked towards creative mediums as a way to showcase untold stories and to entertain others. From a young age, Dave would spend hours in his family's home creating home-made board games and writing stories. His father worked in the game industry, which allowed Dave the early insight on another direction he could take his creative inspirations in. He eventually found a job in the game industry, and seven years later had a stack of published games under his belt and a number of award winning titles to bulletpoint his resume with. Dave continues to pave the way to the future of the games industry by telling stories and entertaining through interactive mediums which will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you come back for more.

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