Sega’s AM2 division is known for arcade games like Outrun, Virtua Fighter, and Virtua Cop. While AM2 developed a few console titles such as Shenmue and Virtua Quest, the gory Kinect horror game Rise of Nightmares is a bizarre twist for the studio. I played a demo of Rise to Nightmares where my character was strapped to a chair with a madman named Vikter and a tray of power tools. I watched as he hacked a hand off another captive before using an axe on his head. Since the demo just started I couldn’t die yet and sure enough a fellow prisoner came to my rescue.
Free from captivity, I tried to figure out how to walk. Rise to Nightmares is a Kinect-only game, so I thought walking in place would do the trick. Nope. You put one foot forward when you want to walk and turning your shoulders makes your character turn. Instead of walking through a dungeon with zombie nurses, I found myself leaning in awkward positions to get through doors. A Sega representative compared it to the hokey pokey, an apt way of explaining how to move. To speed things up, Rise to Nightmares has a quick walk command (hold your right hand up) which puts your character on rails.
I eventually got the hang of moving, but combat was tougher to grasp. All of the fighting in Rise to Nightmares is done with your hands and feet. You can punch creatures or kick to push a group away. The problem is you have to stand perfectly square for Kinect to pick up your movements, which is counterintuitive to most martial arts where you have one leg forward. Land a kick in an actual fighting stance and your character starts to walk… usually right into enemies. I thought back to the hokey pokey analogy and tried fighting that way. One fist in, one fist out, kick an abomination in the shins, and shake it all about. You do the Rise of Nightmares dance and zombies fall to the ground. One neat thing about Rise of Nightmares is the game can detect if you’re doing a straight punch or a hook and the difference between a front kick and side kick (both have the same effect, though).
Weapons were readily available in the dingy dungeon. Moving your hand over an iron pipe makes your character walk to the item and pick it up. The controls for using the pipe are the same as punching. In fact, the game responded better to pipe punches than it did to overhead pipe swings. Using the chainsaw was surprisingly intuitive. After grabbing the item, I moved my hands up and down to slice an onslaught of zombies. There were other items players could pick up and throw by pitching an invisible baseball. You don’t need to worry about aiming if you’re locked on to an enemy.
I moved on to a bathroom where you have to stick your hand in a blood filled toilet bowl to grab a key. The next room had a horde of monsters to fight, but they weren’t as much of a threat as a deadly saw blade. Unless you move away, which can be difficult with the hokey pokey controls, you’re killed instantly. That’s how my character’s nightmares ended.