|System: Xbox 360,|
|Release: September 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The horror game experience is one that just about all gamers are familiar with. Playing in the dead of night, lights off, with the volume turned up is a sure-fire way to get into a horror game. Unfortunately, you cannot play Rise of nightmares this way. You need the lights on, the sound can't be too loud (Kinect doesn't like audio feedback), and you need to stand as far away as possible so the unit can see you. The experience feels different than anything else from the onset, and that could have been a good thing. By isolating you in your home, away from the safety of a comfy chair or a video game controller, Rise of Nightmares could have delivered a unique experience. However, some poor design choices and mechanics make Rise of Nightmares nothing more than a missed opportunity.
When the game begins, you are stuck in a pretty generic jail cell with a standard-issue screaming girl. Apparently, everyone's dead and there are monsters, and then—oh wait—you just got turned into strawberry jam. How did this happen? Well, you'll get to experience one of the most overused B-movie tropes ever and go back in time to before everything went wrong. You play as Josh, who is a bad husband. He has a drinking problem, and his wife can't deal with him anymore. Then she gets kidnapped by an evil scientist who experiments on corpses. So you have to overcome your addiction to the bottle and save her. Yep, it's that kind of a story.
However, having a shallow story is no huge crime in the survival horror genre. Not every game can be a BioShock or a Silent Hill. But the problem here is that there isn't anything to make you really want to keep playing the game. Monsters are generic-looking, single-note characters come and go without incident, and there are never any big developments or twists in the story. And when there's nothing to draw you in, it is hard to justify sticking around for more than just the first act or two. But you might wonder if perhaps the gameplay might justify the poor storytelling. Here's a spoiler-alert for you: it doesn't.
I am all for "Mature"-feeling Kinect games. But when you try and shoehorn adult content into what feels like it could have been a point-and-click adventure, you've got a very serious problem. The format of the game shuffles you from room to room in a house of horrors, and you'll have to flick your hands to open doors, pump your arms to run away, or flail your extremities Fruit Ninja-style to kill enemies.
Though the interface feels incredibly immature, if you take it for just what it is, the experience isn't terribly offensive. However, the real problem starts when you try to move. The game has a very convoluted movement system, having you turn your shoulders either left or right and lift one foot to move. This system is far from precise, and controlling your character is a challenge indeed. Just going in a straight line (the most basic of all in-game actions) is much more difficult than it needs to be, and can be frustrating when you spy a weapon to pick up and can't get over to it because you can't get your shoulders and foot to work in tandem. The only saving grace here is an "auto-movement" system that will take you automatically from enemy area to enemy area with a simple raise of the hand. This limits your ability to explore your surroundings, but aside from finding weapons, there isn't anything to explore in the halls of this nightmarish castle.