With this year’s E3 presentations from Microsoft and others, it’s clear that the goal of more than doubling the Kinect offerings by the end of this year will easily be attained. Coming to that roster is first person horror survival game Rise of Nightmares, a full body motion control title that I tested out while visiting Sega’s booth at E3 2011.
I took more interest in Rise of Nightmares because of the horror theme than I did the Kinect controls, but I was more than willing to give it a try. So how does it hold up?
While the horror fan in me wants to like this game, it needs a lot of work. Mainly in the control scheme. The idea initially seems appealing; slashing and punching during combat is fun, undoubtedly. But add in the mechanisms for walking and turning and it becomes a huge mess. Stepping forward or backward or turning your shoulders left or right seems workable in theory, but when for it was an exhausting mess. If the forward motion were automatically propelled, like on House of the Dead: Overkill (which I played at the Sony party), the flow of the game would be simple enough to keep the player engaged. As it was, I was too busy overcompensating for every turn, trying to get the character to move forward, and spewing out expletive deleteds to concern myself with Rise of Nightmare‘s innards.
Speaking of them. They’re not exactly inspired. The level designs, down to having to physically throw open dungeon doors, reminded me of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but oddly without the charm of a quality, well defined art style. Amnesia, an indie PC game, also looks better visually. Players of Amnesia‘s DLC chapter Justine will also find the “I’ve woken up in a dungeon and OMG TORTURER” plot to be very familiar (though Justine of course only debuted recently, thus limiting any real influence it might have on this game). Had I not been awkwardly chopping my way through tired hordes of zombies and struggling to perform even basic tasks like collecting items, I might have been more interested in the back story, that of a German mad man culling torture victims from the wreckage of a recent train crash. It’s entirely possible that beyond the first twenty minutes the game becomes interesting. Until the control response improves, I won’t find the physical or mental energy to care. Even the game’s help system (which propels you forward to the next section of the game, with varying success) could not save it. The controls hinder the immersion process, and thus, any feelings of terror or fear.
Rise of Nightmares is slated for a Kinect release in late 2011. And if I were a betting woman, I’d say around Halloween. Check out the live action trailer above, and a batch of screen shots (which look suspiciously better than the real thing, but whatever) below.