Rise Of Nightmares is Sega’s test to see if there’s an audience for violent, subversive firstperson hacking and slashing using Kinect. There’s a haunted forest, a haunted castle and more walking dead than you can bludgeon with an iron pipe; it’s just a shame the act of bludgeoning is so tiresome.
On a mission to rescue a damsel in distress, you take on the role of everyman Josh – victim of a derailed train in the Romanian countryside and, fortunately, a dab hand with anything sharp and heavy.
Rise Of Nightmares is a dedicated Kinect firstperson action game. As a result it’s both commendably ambitious and frustratingly inconsistent. Locomotion requires stepping forward or back, turning requires a rotation of the shoulders, and attacks are conducted with a boxing stance. It’s initially awkward, at times painful, but after a couple of hours the game’s rhythm of kill-kill-open-door sets in and you’re able to find a comfort zone. Turning never feels intuitive, however, making for frequent impalements on wall spikes in some of the game’s booby-trapped scenarios. Overall level design is basic enough to accommodate your poor mobility, though, and the few puzzle rooms are simple enough to break up the relentless limb removal.
Melee combat is the meat of the experience, with the game’s armoury built mostly of blades, pipes, chainsaws and whirling blades. And the weapons make short work of the shambling enemies, dispatching them in some gruesome displays of bloodletting. The monotony and aches of swiping set in after the first hour, and the in-game prompt to “take a break” is one best heeded. The core challenge stems from the wearing down of weapons, and often your priority is to get to the nearest sharp thing before you’re throttled by one of the shuffling corpses.
The game engine delivers scale and detail with equal competence, but the overall visual similarity to AM1’s House Of The Dead series gives you a distinct sense of playing an unused map from the franchise, minus the trigger-happy joys of lightguns and headshots. The bottom line is that Rise Of Nightmares isn’t as engaging or exciting as AM1’s established brand. It’s also too adult in its content to appeal to the younger users who might enjoy its gimmicky use of Kinect. With a tone somewhere between House Of The Dead: Overkill and Condemned, Rise Of Nightmares doesn’t beg to be taken too seriously with its hackneyed script, bloody laughs and bare-bones action. The incompatibility of Kinect with AM1’s ambition, however, is no laughing matter.