Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ten Reasons Why I Won't Buy Rise of Nightmares

I'm visiting a friend this weekend, and I decided to bring my Xbox and Kinect with me. Upon his insistence, I downloaded the Rise of Nightmares demo. Apparently, it was one of the first (possibly the only?) Kinect games to incorporate heavy doses of violence in a horror atmosphere. After I played through the demo on my own, I forced him to play through it. As revenge.

Yeah, it was that bad.

1. If your intention is to set up a horrifying atmosphere, don't start off the game with a confusing and hilarious cutscene involving a mad scientist seemingly faking a phone call with his wife as an excuse to leave the room.
2. Turning the camera by rotating your shoulders is okay, but there's always a bit of backwards turning when you return to the "forward" position, which is annoying. Also, no looking forward or down.
3. Forward and backward motion by putting one leg forward or backward is... awkward. Allegedly, how far you put your leg forward or backward changes the speed at which you move, but your character (apparently your name is Josh) only seems to move at one speed: Half-saunter.
4. No sideways movement. Expect to spend a lot of time smearing your face into the wall because you've overturned and can't right yourself.
5. The game encourages you to perform certain commands as though you were doing them in real life. For example, when you see a door, you grab the handle and pull it open, right? Wrong. Every door is pushed open, regardless of whether you're on the push or pull side of it. Brilliant.
6. See something that needs killed? Put your arms up in a guarded position, and flail. It doesn't seem to matter what weapon you're holding, a flailing motion seems to make it go.
7. Your traveling companion (who does pretty much nothing beyond a very awkward scamper behind you) randomly gets killed by a giant guillotine. His dying words? "I knew I would die here!" Okay.
8. At one point, you're introduced to an icon that lets you take a break while the computer moves you to the next objective by raising your right arm. This saves a decent amount of trouble, except when it keeps returning you to a dead end. Keep holding your arm up, and it keeps repeating the error message.
9. How many times can the same horror movie cliche be pumped into one game? Too much, apparently. Do a thing with no one else in the room, turn around to see a line of zombies approaching you. Every. Single. Time.
10. Even if it's a horror game in which everything is out to kill you solely for the purposes of killing you, I'd still expect at least a little bit of logic to come into play. If I'm in a room with a whole bunch of zombies, and I kill all of these zombies, why does a previously unmovable door suddenly open? It'd be hypocritical for me to say that sort of cause-and-effect is unreasonable, since it's worked for titles as old as The Legend of Zelda. On the other hand, The Legend of Zelda didn't try to make itself out as a realistic (heh) survival horror game. It's moments like this that you become painfully aware that you're playing a very specific role in a very generic movie.

What starts out as a decent concept for an action game is made intensely frivolous by how broken it is. I wouldn't've anticipated many people enjoying this game, though another friend really loved kicking during the fight scenes. I, on the other hand, felt less ridiculous during the freestyle dance segments in Dance Central (you have to take my word for this). Any sense of horror is killed off right at the beginning of the demo, so all one could hope for with this game is a gory, slow slog through a cinematic. I will not buy this game.