Much like 2007's Condemned, also published by SEGA, combat is distressingly up close and personal. There are no guns (or at least I didn't see any during my time with the game), and you'll rely entirely on melee weapons and your fists to keep yourself safe. To initiate combat and lock-on to an enemy, all you need to do is raise your fists – much like how a boxer might defend himself. Depending on what weapon you've got equipped, you'll need to use the appropriate action to use it. Got a pipe? Swing it. Wearing a pair of brass knuckles? Pummel the air. Found some scalpels? Throw 'em. If you're without a weapon, simply punching and kicking should do the job.
During my time with the game, I saw a pleasant amount of violence and gore. I saw a man cut in half by a huge sheet of jagged metal which dropped from the ceiling. I saw a couple squashed to death by two moving walls. I saw a man being tortured; first his hand was cut off, and then a knife was plunged into his head, a fountain of red gushing from the wound. It's a bloody and gruesome game, but there's a hint of silliness to it all. During the torture scene, the crazed scientist is on the phone to his wife, trying to balance a domestic with his sadistic urges. The fact that the game is developed by the same team as the House of the Dead series (pre Overkill) shouldn't come as a surprise.
Outside of combat, you're exploring the castle, trying to find clues to your wife's whereabouts. To progress from one area to the next, you'll often need to solve a simple puzzle and find a key - a structure not dissimilar to the classic Resident Evil games. At one point, I had to fish a key out of a toilet filled with thick red blood. There are numerous occasions where you need to mimic the action that Josh would do in that situation – flipping a switch, or climbing a ladder, for example. In this case, I had to reach into an imaginary lavatory to retrieve a key from a bloody u-bend. Lovely.
Rise of Nightmares is the most ambitious Kinect game I've seen to date. While movement was awkward and combat quickly got irksome, I was impressed that an experience like this was even possible without a controller. When it's just you and the TV, and you're mimicking the actions of the character you're playing as, immersion is heightened somewhat. Whether the frustrations that come with Kinect manage to take you out of that experience, however, remains to be seen.
Rise of Nightmares is due for release in September, exclusively on Xbox 360