I’d think any true blue SEGA fan has a special place in their heart for The House of the Dead franchise. Being an arcade lightgun classic, and spanning three console generations, The House of the Dead has produced a number of sequels, spin-offs and even ventured outside of the video game world by way of two horrible films. When Rise of Nightmares, SEGA’s latest Kinect title, was revealed at last year’s Tokyo Game Show, little was known of the game aside from “save your wife from an evil scientist”. Was it internally developed? Was it a House of the Dead title? We just couldn’t tell based on the short and creepy trailer. But now that time has passed, and the game is in stores, we have all the answers. In this week’s Weekly Five we’ll take a look at five reasons why I think Rise of Nightmares sits well alongside the beloved House of the Dead series, despite not carrying the series title, and why HotD fans should check the game out!
It’s a rare, but great, feeling to pick up and play a new SEGA title developed by a well known internal SEGA development team. Rise of Nightmares has the distinction of being developed by SEGA AM1, and it shows. The game features an arcade-like pace, and shares many aesthetic elements found in The House of the Dead series.
The SEGA Blog recently interviewed Ito-san and Ueda-san (Producer and Director, respectfully). Ito revealed that he was the one member of the Rise of Nightmares team to have worked with the House of the Dead team. Regarding similarities, Ito noted that both titles are similar in “having the player stand while gameplay, first-person view, and life-size zombies are coming closer”. He also noted that “developing a Kinect title is much alike with developing an arcade game, which is one of SEGA’s greatest talent”.
Perhaps the most interesting connection noted by Ito during the interview was the fact that a gameplay element that was originally intended for The House of the Dead, but was dropped, made it into Rise of Nightmares: “At the first phase of House of the Dead development, we have tested various things like implementing a mechanic where the player can kick by pedaling. House of the Dead has ultimately turned out to be a simple game, but we have made use of those trial-and-error experiences for this title.”
Regulars to House of the Dead know that bosses encountered in HotD 1-4 are named after the Major Arcana of occult tarot. Rise of Nightmares also features the Major Arcana in their real world form as cards that the player collects throughout their horrific adventure. The cards are being dropped by a mysterious woman who you first meet in the introductory train ride. Just what is her connection to the events, and why is she leaving behind these cards?
PLAY AS THE CIVILIAN
During my first hour of playing Rise of Nightmares, I couldn’t help but thinking that at any moment Agent G would pop out from behind a corner and starting shooting down the zombies around me as I screamed “Help me! I don’t wanna die!”, which got me thinking: Rise of Nightmares really feels like a spin-off starring the civilian victims of House of the Dead. While Agent G, James and other HotD stars are experts in firearms, folks like Rise of Nightmare’s Josh is just a regular guy trying to save his wife. With no gun to his name, Josh uses just about anything he can get his hands on to fight off the undead. By the second chapter of the game I had used my fists, brass knuckles, an ice saw, a lead pipe and surgical tools that doubled as throwing knifes. As such, Ride of Nightmares really feels like a melee House of the Dead from the civilan’s point of view.
IT HAS THAT HotD “je ne sais quoi”
The atmosphere and presentation of Rise of Nightmares has that same sort of intangible quality found in the House of the Dead titles. You’ve got that creepy voice announcing the title of the game upon startup, that gritty aesthetic in presenting cutscenes and the otherworldly designs of the undead. Just compare the Rise of Nightmares TGS Trailer with the House of the Dead 3 intro. While Rise of Nightmares may not carry the HotD series title or feature recurring characters, it does feel very much cut from the same cloth.
THERE IS A HOUSE FULL OF DEAD
It may not be Curien Mansion, but Rise of Nightmares does feature all the conventions of the House of the Dead titles. It’s got a house by way of a mansion, complete with a dungeon, and its got a load of dead. There is even a deranged doctor. Like House of the Dead: Overkill, the game features F-bombs albeit far fewer compared to Overkill. Like House of the Dead 4, players must shake zombies loose. Like any House of the Dead game, the horror borders on humorous and the acting is at classic b-movie levels. Though I’d say it is a huge step up from the early HotD games in terms of acting.
While I’ve yet to complete the game, and a review is to come, I can say that as a House of the Dead fan I am very much enjoying Rise of Nightmares. It does share many things with the classic franchise, but is different enough to warrant a new IP. Controls are effective and varied, combat is fun. But is that enough? Stay tuned!Ad: