Game Review: Rise of Nightmares (Xbox Kinect)
Release: September 6, 2011
Genre: Survival Horror
Developer: Sega CS3
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Website: Rise Of Nightmares Homepage
Rise of Nightmares has joined a very short list of games that have given me a reason to continue being scared after the system was turned off. It kept me on edge from the beginning and sustained that uneasy feeling with jump scares, intense situations, eerie environments, and all the gore you can handle. Being forced to use gesture with the Xbox Kinect only adds to the immersion into the sick and sadistic world the game puts you in. It was quite the experience to be turning valves, pushing open doors, and swinging machete all while being chased by blood-thirsty creatures.
As the player you’re put in the shoes of Josh, a 20 something on vacation in Romania with his girlfriend. You’re both on the train when suddenly it gets derailed and all hell breaks loose. Using the Kinect, you’re tasked with navigating the wreckage and trying to make your way to safer ground before trying to find your girlfriend. This is also where you get your first taste of the navigation in Rise of Nightmares as you’ll have either your arm up for the auto-move feature or find yourself caught on the geometry as you move manually.
From that point on, you’re thrown into the middle of a story involving a creepy doctor who has a penchant for the occult and grotesque biological experimentation. Your search for girlfriend Katie takes you through a castle that’s full ghouls, ghosts, and creatures to fight off along with some inventive motion controlled puzzles to break up the action. The puzzles ranged from ordinary ones based on simple gestures to complicated ones like a crank puzzle that had you turning it at the right speed to get a specific tone for a door to open. To help with the actions sections of the game, the castle is filled with over 40 weapons to help you slash, stab, and bludgeon your way through the evil horde.
The game felt a lot like a Kinect version of an old Resident Evil game, with you tasked with taking down some evil conspiracy that’s told through audio tapes along the way. While the story wasn’t surprising, it did set up for some interesting scenarios and creepy visuals as you tried your best to stay alive. As the game progresses, you’re also faced with a few twists that will completely change-up how you handle the combat sections. I do wish these twists were spread more evenly throughout the game as they’re a breath of fresh air that comes in way past the midpoint of the game. At one point while playing, my girlfriend had the sudden urge to hop in and play the game for a bit. It was interesting watching her get enthusiastic and sometimes overwhelmed by enemies only to finish them off with finesse, an experience I’m sure she couldn’t duplicate in Resident Evil 5 or Left 4 Dead.
The few gripes I have with Rise of Nightmares do bring my score for the game down a bit. My major gripe with Rise of Nightmares is with the repetitive and sometimes frustrating gesture controls within the game. Many times you will be forced to swivel your shoulders and torso while trying to fight off a half-dozen creatures, cursing when the game doesn’t notice you blocking attacks. The combat scenarios are hard enough without you having to fight the controls as well as groups of enemies. You will find yourself taking long breaks just as a relief from the constant swinging you will be doing throughout the game and most likely sore in the morning as well. While the environments are varied, they are reused to flesh out what is already a fairly short game. There is no reason why I should see one section of the game around 40 minutes in, see it again 4 hours in, then one last time to round it out around 6 hours in.
The frustration with the controls is really the only thing that bothered me about the game. Otherwise, Rise of Nightmares provides one of the first full game experiences for Kinect that isn’t just a string of mini-games. My best recommendation is to have a few friends over to play the game, so that you can watch the horror unfold together and share the load of the sometimes tiring combat.
– Atmospheric gameplay
-Inventive gesture-based puzzles
-Difficult to navigate environment
-Reuse of environments
7 out of 10