I want to be balanced, here. It's good practice to say something upbeat, even if it's just a token effort to create the appearance of balance. But it's difficult to find a single good thing to say about Rise of Nightmares. Hunting around for a positive in this mire of joyless Simon-Says gesturing requires patience and a kind soul, and this game seems designed to drain you of both.
It starts promisingly - a corridor on a train, where you meet your fellow victims-to-be. Here, without enemies, Rise of Nightmares works. The literal Kinect movements aren't great, but it's pleasantly surprising when doors slide open with a gesture, as they should. And that's something that lingers for the first hour or two - you feel inclined to forgive Rise of Nightmares, because it's new. One of a kind. It's a feeling that is quickly drowned by frustration, boredom and fury.
Moving around is stressful. Putting a foot forward to walk is fine, but move too quickly, and the game will confuse one foot being forward with the other foot being backwards, meaning you'll just walk the wrong way. Sometimes you want to sidestep - you can't. You walk forward, turning, smearing your face against the wall like a cat in a new house.
The game isn't scary. It's tense, sure - but only because the controls are so unresponsive. Remember how the original Resident Evil was tense because of the tank controls? Rise of Nightmares is like a parody of that, only lacking the subtlety of zombie dogs smashing through windows.
It's not even funny. The game was sold with humorous trailers, and a promise of whimsical OTT violence. These people made House of the Dead, one of the most comically bad and entertaining on-rails shooters around. Rise tries its hand at comedy a couple of times, and fails: it takes real dedication to create a psychopath with so little personality.
The puzzles are sub-toddler, and what little challenge there might be is stolen by the game's clumsily helpful interface. Any nuance is lost because the things you can interact with to solve puzzles are marked with huge 'Interact!' markers.
An example: at one early stage, you'll find a toilet full of blood. The interact marker tempts you over, and before you know it, you're rummaging around in a toilet full of blood, *for no sane reason*. It turns out there's a key in there, of course. But that doesn't make the fact that you went over and put your hands in there any less jarring and inexplicable.
The lobotomised, slash-block combat is the final straw. Rise of Nightmares offers nothing in the way of action, puzzles, intelligence, or maturity. It's a heartbreakingly lame way to kickstart the adult Kinect genre.
Rising in the throat
- It has got graphics
- Wretched combat
- Zero personality
- Weak handle-key puzzles
- Fails in nearly every respect