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E3 2011: Rise of Nightmares hands-on

E3 2011

Tucked away in the far corner of Sega’s booth at E3 was Rise of Nightmares. The Kinect horror game was announced last year, along with several other smaller Japanese developed Kinect titles. Since then very little has been revealed about the project, or any of the other games for that matter. With only one Kinect setup, the wait for Rise of Nightmares was pretty lengthy, confounded by the learning curve of playing a first-person horror game with your body.

Having seen half a dozen players complete the demo, or die trying, prior to my own playtime, I quickly felt comfortable with Rise of Nightmares’ admittedly awkward controls. Rather than put the player on rails as many Kinect titles have to this point, Rise allows the player to rotate the camera horizontally by twisting your shoulders, and walk by putting either foot forward – the longer the stride the faster the walking speed. Controlling the camera can be a bit finicky, but the recognition is quite good once you learn to make subtle gestures with your shoulders.


The demo was filled with zombies that looked like they had been ripped directly from Sega’s own The House of the Dead. The enemies were slow and generally stupid, most likely due to the slower, deliberate nature of Kinect enabled combat. The first weapon found in the demo was a metal pipe and it could be slashed in vertical and horizontal strikes. Rise of Nightmares doesn’t nearly have the same sort of 1 to 1 fidelity as a game like Red Steel 2, but the melee combat is effective enough for these purposes.

Advancing through the demo, a few weapons were conveniently placed, allowing players to see the wide range of combat possible. Brass knuckles allowed the player to wail on zombies with both hands, like they were hitting a punching bag. Explosive vials yielded destructive results, blowing zombies to satisfying, gruesome bits. My favorite tools, however, had to be the chainsaw and tongs. The former obviously makes quick work of the undead, eviscerating anything it touches, while the tongs were a humorous weapon that seemed to induce laughter more than it delivered actual damage.


Midway through the demo there was a locked door, which required some rudimentary exploration to unlock. Holding your right hand up and to your side puts Rise of Nightmare into cruise control, this pilots the player toward their next objective. Finding myself in a restroom, my character noted the copious amounts of blood smeared on the floor and walls. The blood seamed to lead towards an open stall and a single toilet. Obviously the toilet was of interest and the key was plucked – rather disgustingly – from the bloody bowl.

Rise of Nightmares was certainly an experience to be had. The touchy nature of its control scheme justifies many developers’ hesitance to create a full core game experience with Kinect. Despite these reservations, Sega has thrown caution into the wind, and the result is something truly unique on Kinect.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

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