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Rise of Nightmares Video Game Review
By: Thelonius Funk
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    The horror ... the horror. I can remember when there were only two preeminent game console systems, Nintendo and Sega. The latter arguably had a better selection of games, ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat 2, NBA Jam, and Earthworm Jim to even kid-friendly fare like Aladdin and The Lion King. Good times. Flash forward about twenty years, though, and it seems like Sega is struggling not to go the way of the dodo. Unfortunately, Rise of Nightmares is just yet another disappointment from the guys and gals of the once mighty Sega.

    Iím just going to come right out and say it; I am not a fan of Kinect games. I love the concept, and on paper it sounds like a blast. However, I find these games to be extremely frustrating to play, because the mechanics are jerky and stiff (no pun intended) at times when precision and accuracy are needed. It reminds me very much of the Nintendo Power Glove. Those of us old enough to remember that know what I mean. The "No Strings Attached" approach was supposed to revolutionize the way games were played, and it ended up becoming the Laserdisc of its day. Someday I think that mo-cap technology actually will become the way that games are played; I just donít think that we are there yet.

    And sadly, the Kinect gameplay is the only thing that this game really has going for it. Much like a horror film, a horror game is supposed to generate genuine scares and thrills at every turn. This game has the horror of being not only the horror game for Kinect boasting a M rating for its super violent content, but it's also the first game where players have full range of motion.

    Again, that all sounds wonderful. However, Nightmares comes across as a Frankenstein for Dummies hodgepodge of horror themes that is certainly and sadly much less than the sum of its parts. If you threw two cups of Saw, a cup and a half of Hostel and three tablespoons of The Human Centipede into a blender and hit shred, then you might have some idea of what (at least it seems that way) Rise of Nightmares wasr shooting for.

    The game starts out in a very Saw-like fashion as weíre introduced to two characters, a man and a woman, who wake up in a strange dungeon without any knowledge of how they got there. Donít you hate when that happens? And after a very obvious trap is sprung, we watch them met their demise in a very gruesome fashion. Now I can only presume that this intro was designed to accomplish two things: one was to give a shocking precedent of things to come, and the other was to establish game controls as you learn the basic mechanics of the game. It only barely succeeds on the latter.

    Then Nightmares jumps to a train where we meet Josh and his wife, Kate, who are traveling in Romania with several strangers. During the train ride, Kate is about to tell Josh something when she discovers he was hiding a bottle of alcohol, hinting at a drinking problem. Angry, she walks out and heads to the dining car. Feeling guilty, Josh heads to the dining car to apologize. Bored yet? Just wait.

    Feeling guilty, Josh follows Kate to apologize. On the way he meets horror stereotype #47, the creepy fortune-teller, who gives Josh a grim prediction. He then proceeds further, only to find a blood soaked dining car, horror stereotype #15.  He also finds his wife being carried out by a large man with an odd-looking mechanism on his face.

    Josh follows, and catches a glimpse of a painfully generic mad scientist who is laughing manically. Suddenly, the train derails and the surviving passengers end up in a cave. Stranded with strangers? Horror stereotype #9. 

    Now all of these circumstances are supposed to add tension and complexity to a roster of flimsy characters in an impossibly flimsier plot, but you quickly realize that these folks are merely cannon fodder to be picked off one by one. The only thing missing was a black cat running under a ladder resting next to broken mirror.

    As I mentioned before, the motion control is the gameís greatest strength, and ultimate weakness. The mechanics are laughably bad, even during the best parts of the game, which is killing the crap out of every zombie you see. Hacking the limbs off zombies, kicking open doors, and sidestepping attacks feels natural, and, admittedly, a little satisfying, even though it gets old after a couple hours.

    The boss battles are the most disappointing part, because they're just normal enemies that have a couple of attacks you need to dodge with a quick time event, like ducking or sidestepping. And the running feature is pathetic. I could only achieve what was the equivalent of power walking in the game by either sticking my leg out hokey-pokey style or running in place, which made me feel more like I was stuck in a Jane Fonda workout video than a horror movie. And once you learn the rhythm behind the mechanics of how to kill your enemies, the game is barely any more challenging than the Macarena.

    Closing Comments

    Ambition and basic functionality alone donít make a game good. The ironic thing about Rise of Nightmares is that the control scheme is so basic it comes off feeling like a game for kids, when it tries so damn hard not to be. Even if you like the novelty of chopping off undead heads longer than I did, a bad horror game is a bad horror game. And Rise of Nightmares is a monster.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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