It’s seen some pretty low reviews, but here’s an opinion from an unpaid gamer, but first, for those that don’t know, what is it?

Introducing a new genre for Microsoft Kinect: Interactive Nightmare. Wade through a night dripping with horrors as you descend into a gruesome battle against the undead in this blood-soaked hackfest. Journey through a madman’s castle filled with zombies – and plenty of ways to hurt them – as you try to rescue your kidnapped wife. Use a variety of fighting styles, solve puzzles, dodge traps, and rig traps of your own. Make do with whatever weapons you have available: chainsaws, knives, and, when all else fails, brute strength. With no controller between you and what’s happening on-screen, it’s like you’re ripping apart zombies with your own two hands.

The Story

The story is pretty generic, a madman causes a train derailment and you are stuck on an island with him and his castle of terrors along with a bunch of zombies. As you progress through the story, you do find out how these zombies are made which I found pretty unique, and the game does end with some unanswered questions, so here’s to hope for a Rise of Nightmares 2!

The madman, he is pretty crazy!

The Shocker

I don’t find zombies terrifying. There’s 2 classes in the horror category, you have your gory themes like Rise of Nightmares, Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, etc. Then you have your other horror category which I consider to be really terrifying because it’s that borderline of you don’t know if its real or not, such as Paranormal Activity, Exorcist, etc. Ever watch one of those of movies before going to bed and then you hear some abnormal noises while you are laying in bed? Yeah that’s the feeling I was hoping this game would bring, but unfortunately it does not. It does do a decent job in the gore category, although I don’t think video game blood will mimic the way they do gory scenes in movies so you can’t expect high quality.

I like the outfit!

The Gameplay

The game works very well. It is in a first person view and you are free to walk around in the environment. To walk, you simply either put one forward or one foot backward. Depending on placement of your foot, you can either walk slow or fast either by extending your leg a little or fully. Now this method works for right now, but after about 5 hours, my ankles were giving in. At this point, I feel we are ready to walk/run in place, sure the out of shapers will complain, but both methods should be used going forward and give us the choice whether we want to step or walk/run in place. To turn, Kinect does shoulder detection which I found neat, you simply turn your shoulders left or right. Depending on how fast you turn in real life mimics how fast you turn in the game.

The fighting aspect of the game is great in my opinion. You can use your fists, although they don’t do much damage, you can kick to help give you some breathing room, and you can pick up weapons. Typically when zombies are around, there’s usually oodles of weapons around as well. That’s where this game shines. I have never seen so many different weapons in a zombie game, let alone most games besides gun games that have different variations of different guns. I used weapons ranging from metal pipes, baseball bats, cutting shears, knives, scalpels, exploding chemicals and all the way to a chainsaw. The variety is outstanding. What makes the weapons even better is that you use normal actions when using them, shears you make a cutting motion such as holding the bottom handles and moving your 2 hands closer together to simulate cutting. The chainsaw is pushed into enemies as if you were really holding a chainsaw. Throwing items can be used with a basic targeting system and thrown.

Gore Galore

A huge welcome to the weapons as well is the ability to sever limb parts off the zombies. If you are getting attacked by a zombie hitting you, simply fix the problem and cut off their arm! Is one biting you? Easy, chop off the head. You can be pretty accurate with the weapons as well, which makes the mechanics of the fighting system even better. There is also a boss system that’s integrated so there’s some special enemies that you have to fight as well.

One of the "bosses"

There’s even a couple special weapons that turn the game into superhero/star wars likeness. It made me feel powerful. Not only did the weapons impress me, but Sega developed every action for every weapon. I have not seen this many actions in any other Kinect title. Everyone just wants to knock RoN because of the game, but for what its worth, I think Sega did one hell of a job creating this game and hopefully first person perspective games will be developed more for Kinect.

Want to play as this guy?

The other actions in the game are fairly normal ones, running, jumping, sidestepping, blocking, opening doors, turning handles, pulling levers. Seriously, the amount of actions in this game are amazing. The one thing I really did like which doesn’t happen in many games anymore, is the environment can be used as a weapon! If you see a trap, you can kick one of the baddies into it and kill them. What’s even better is they are just dumb zombies and can even kill themselves either by striking or shooting projectiles. I do like seeing realistic factors being put into games, it’s about time!

One of the many traps

The puzzles in the game are great too. You have a mixture of figuring out stuff as well as avoiding traps. I have to say I haven’t played this type of adventure game in a very long time. One of the puzzles actually stumped me for about an hour and then once I figured it out, it was one of those “You have to be kidding me” moments. I haven’t had one of those since the Lucasarts/Sierra PC adventure games back in the 90’s.

This is another title that had a custom soundtrack created and it sounds really good. The graphics were worked with a nostalgic filter to try to give it an eery look to it. Overall, job well done.

The Negatives

Unfortunately with every Kinect game, or possibly every game for that matter, there are some issues. Rise of Nightmares is no different. I’ll run through the list of problems I had or foresee. First, the one problem that drove me absolutely nuts is you could not look up or down. An item would be on the floor and an icon automatically moves to your chest level to show you an item is there. It would have made the game more challenging if head tracking was used and you could fully view your environment without the help of icons.

The big problem I think is the replay value which is lowering the review score all over. Realistically, how many games do we play over and over and over? Typically I estimate about a year before the next, better version of that title is released. I’m looking at this game as a new beginning to the Kinect era which is why I rated it higher than others. Sure, you may not want to play it over and over, but you will probably want to pop it in more than once to either get some achievements or try your luck at the Kill-O-Calorie counter or the torture difficulty. It would be completely awesome if an RPG/Leveling element would have been added to your character kind of like Mass Effect.

There is also no online play and no 2 player support. This title would have worked well as a cooperative game. There’s some intense battles where having a second pair of hands/weapons would definitely help.

Conclusion

I did complete this one in 9 hours even with my 1 hour puzzle struggle, which doesn’t seem long, but it is quite long for a Kinect title. As I mentioned, the ending does leave some open questions so hopefully we do see a RoN2 soon, heck if its being compared to Resident Evil they must have done something right. I feel Sega did a great job on it for what it is, even if everyone else is bashing it, you have to take the game for what it is, and its a huge step for Kinect and the first person genre.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Rise of Nightmares
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?