Rise of Nightmares Preview
Lately it's been obvious that Microsoft is pushing the Kinect hard, seeming especially interested in capturing this unique interactive market now that Sony has all but abandoned the Playstation Move and Nintendo's forthcoming Wii U has failed to excite anyone. However, the problem with these motion control games has largely been a lack of ambition and a focus on the multiplayer market. After all, why take the time to develop an immersive adventure when simple party game collections like Wii Sports are the top sellers? Sega hasn't given up on the idea of putting together a title with a bit more substance. That substance is dark, red, and leaking out the brain of a decapitated ghoul. I recently got to try out Sega's upcoming horror title Rise of Nightmares, being developed exclusively for the Kinect.
Rise of Darkness plays out like a simplified first-person survival horror title, with the focus put less on exploration or puzzle-solving and more on the frantic zombie-killing action. As the game opened, I found myself strapped to a chair, watching as my tormentor buried a cleaver in the head of another unfortunate captive. Thankfully I was soon saved from my bonds by an old man, who, using astute powers of observation, advised me that we should get the hell out of there. As I soon learned, this was easier said than done. The movement controls take a bit of getting used to. Taking a step forward causes you to begin walking, with your character moving faster depending on how far of a step you take. To orient your character you have to turn your shoulders in the direction you wish to turn. By putting out a hand you can interact with the environment, picking up items and opening doors. At first I felt like some sort of alien, awkwardly attempting to replicate actual human movement in the most convoluted manner possible, and though I eventually got the hang of it, that initial awkwardness never completely vanished.
However odd the movement feels, the combat is a genuine thrill, with every enemy encounter an awesome chance to put fighting moves to the test. Putting up your dukes signals combat, while keeping them there also helps block some enemy attacks. Each limb is tracked separately, allowing players to enjoy a nice one-two punch combination while following up with a devastating sidekick. Many laughs were had as I loudly declared "DOUBLE PUNCH" and began punching forward with both arms, bashing in the opposing zombie's head with surprising effectiveness. Don't believe that you're restrained to just your bare hands; the game was littered with every manner of melee weapon. Axes, pipes, machetes, and of course the much beloved chainsaw. The room exploded in excitement as I picked up the devastating weapon, twisting my shoulders hard to turn my character into a spinning top of death.
Therein lies the potential problem with Rise of Nightmares. In a room with sixteen other journalists screaming in excitement as I decapitated my enemies, of course the game was a blast. As a single-player experience, however, the game's motion controls seem like they could quickly become a bit of a chore, and the novelty of putting yourself into the action might not be enough to outweigh the allure of playing a more involved title with a proper controller. From what I saw, the game definitely has potential and would be good fun for a group of friends looking to take turns eviscerating the monstrous enemies. Whether this is the definitive single-player Kinect experience remains to be seen.