9 Reviews

Rise of Nightmares

Boulevard of hokum screams

A bleak dungeon, a couple of top-drawer swear words and a handful of zombies introduce Rise of Nightmares. Then you're crushed by two slabs of moving wall.

As your blood spurts out from between the stone like some over-active human juicer, you realise you're a world away from Kinectimals.

If Child of Eden was considered the first hardcore Kinect game, Rise of Nightmares is probably the first hardcore game with traditional sensibilities. It's all here: zombies, blood and violence. Lots of violence.

It's a game that makes you realise that the hardcore experience is as much down to your elementary movement options as it is your setting. You can walk through corridors in Rise of Nightmares, you can open doors, pick up objects and direct attacks.

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It might seem odd that we've reached a point in gaming where basic movement is flagged up specifically in a review - and as a plus point no less - but, in the dancing, petting, exercising world of Kinect, being able to move at will in a reasonably fleshed-out game word is hugely significant.

It all starts off as farce, though. Following the gory prelude you're transported to the more familiar environment of a train darting across Eastern Europe. You take on the role of the game's actual protagonist, Josh, who quickly gets in trouble with the missus for sneaking a hip flask on board. He needn't pay attention: she's about to get kidnapped by a mad scientist.

So, Josh is an alcoholic. Turns out it's a good job as well because - with the train section acting as a tutorial - you soon find walking is harder than playing Heavy Rain with an upside down pad.

The gestures Kinect requires for walking aren't all that bad in isolation. Take a step in front of you to move forward and one backward to go back. Lunging further (not too far mind, think about that recurring groin strain) increases you speed. Turning is done by rotating the shoulders slightly left and right.

And, to begin with, everything works. Unfortunately, problems crop up when all those actions are put together in a room with the undead. It only takes a touch of urgency for things to go to pot.

DEAD MAN WALKING
Like riding a bike for the first time, as you speed up we often made one turn a little too quickly, then overcompensated in the other direction in a panicked attempt to try and maintain our path. Before we knew it , we were snaking at speed without the presence of mind to stop altogether.

You'll end up nose to wall more often than not in Rise of Nightmares, and it very quickly becomes a pain.

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Luckily there's a get out. Hold your right hand in the air and the game will carry you through most walking sections. You'll want to use the fall-back within minutes and, in that sense, Rise of Nightmares becomes an on-rails game. Still, it was worth a shot.

Perhaps we're not being fair with such an early dismissal, though, because Sega has been a little bit smart by incentivising you to walk on your own at least some of the time.

The zombies themselves can take quite a battering, there's usually a few of them in each section and you - as a puny living drunk - can only take about three hits before you collapse. You therefore need to arm yourself pretty quickly because fists alone will usually get you killed in-game and have you sweating buckets in real life. The thing is, the scalpels, ice saws, machetes and chainsaws that you can utilise don't exactly scream out their location from afar and using the auto-walk feature will guarantee that you miss them.

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