Now that Kinect has been on the market for a little while, we’re finally starting to get some games for it that aren’t exercise, dance or little kids’ games. I reviewed once such title, the trippy shooter “Child of Eden,” earlier this week. Earlier this year, I took a look at Twisted Pixel’s “The Gunstringer.” At E3 this year, though, I got a chance to take a look at something completely different: a Kinect game aimed solely at adults.
Sega’s “Rise of Nightmares” is a gritty, dark horror game reminiscent of Konami’s “Silent Hill” series, Sega’s own “Condemned” games and perhaps even grisly torture porn movies like “Saw” and “Hostel.” Oddly, “Rise of Nightmares” wasn’t mentioned anywhere in Microsoft’s E3 keynote, which focused on marquee shooters and family-oriented stuff, so I was surprised to see a playable build of the game being demoed in a side room at a Microsoft event the night following the keynote. While I entered the room in hopes of getting some hands-on time, it became pretty clear that the demo was a lengthy affair and there was already a decent-sized crowd of onlookers.
Forsaking my chance to get in line, I camped out in a good vantage point and watched the proceedings.
The game and demo start off with the player-controlled character on vacation with his wife. Somehow, the main character and his wife end up being knocked unconscious and kidnapped by some kind of deranged weirdo doctor. The gameplay begins with the character restrained in some kind of dungeon, along with another man who’s being tortured as our hero comes to.
In typical bubble-headed villain fashion, the crazy doctor decides to leave the main character alone for a few minutes, and in this interval, of course, he manages to be rescued by a mysterious benefactor. (Note to self: Always kill hostages before leaving the room to empty the litter box.)
From this point in the demo, the main character sprang into action. The controls, which seemed to have the trademarked slight Kinect input lag, were simple enough. You put one leg forward to walk and pull it backward to step back. You can turn your shoulders in either direction to change where your character is moving, though this seemed a little inelegant because when you do so, you have to keep your eyes trained on your TV set for obvious reasons. If zombies attack you, you can kick them backward with your leg. All this stepping, turning and leg shaking makes “Rise of Nightmares” the first game to use what I’m going to call the hokey-pokey control scheme.
If you have trouble with the movement and navigation, “Rise of Nightmares” has some assists built in. If you’re turned around and lost, you can raise your right arm, and the game will point you in the right direction. (Supposedly, though, the game won’t necessarily guide you along the quickest path to your destination, meaning those of us with serviceable real-life navigational skills will benefit from them.
Of course, an up-close -and-personal survival horror game wouldn’t be complete without hand-to-hand fighting, so there are a variety of weapons you can use to fend off hordes of drooling enemies. In my brief time watching the game being played, I caught glimpses of an iron pipe, brass knuckles and a vicious-looking ice saw.
The demo I saw took place completely within the dungeon, but a Sega representative told me the game will feature several different environments that he wasn’t allowed to talk about yet. (You can see a few of them in the above trailer.)
In general, what I saw, though, looked promising. Players will be tasked with solving some light puzzles, fighting off enemies and generally skirting danger. In a roomful of raucous, eager demoers, it was hard to get a handle on whether the game would be legitimately scary or only campy scary, but at the very least it looks like it’d be a fun game to mess around with if you had a room full of adults. The crowd I saw play it featured one very squeamish woman who had to be egged on by her friends. Before long, she was grinding up zombies with the best of ’em, simultaneously freaking out and having a good time.
“Rise of Nightmares” is due to hit retail in September. It’s the brainchild of Ryuta Ueda, who’s worked on well-loved franchises such as “Panzer Dragoon,” “Jet Grind Radio” and “Yakuza.” In other words, it’s in good hands.