I love the shooter genre. Not a lot of people have that fondness though. In fact, when I mention it, most people think I am referring to an FPS. These games have always been niche, and Sine Mora was about as niche as it gets. Co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality, the former is a studio with some truly weird titles under their belt, while the latter is barely known for their hardcore strategy games. A weird combination indeed. Still, Sine Mora was beautifully designed, and that still stands with this port.
Sine Mora’s hook was that it was designed to add a more cinematic flair to the genre. The game plays in 2D, but in between stages the camera will pan around the ships and environment, creating a visual treat. There is also a ton of dialogue and chatter among pilots. It almost feels like a 2D StarFox game. The polygonal visuals are super sharp and sport great design. It also helps that the soundtrack is composed by Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Switch
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
What makes this game unique though are its game play fundamentals. There is no life bar, or lives for that matter. Instead, players have a morality meter. Getting hit causes it to tick down faster, while taking out enemies slows it down. It is dynamic and makes it easier for players of lesser skill to enjoy. There is also a bullet time mechanic, which helps tremendously when things get crazy. This is a bullet hell game after all.
Players will earn upgrades for their firepower as levels progress, but like most in the genre it is all lost when they get hit. Each ship also has a unique ability that can help out with larger enemies and bosses. The catch to using this is that it resets the score multiplier every time it is used. I like design like this; it keeps skilled players on their toes, but doesn’t really hinder novices from enjoying the game. It is also worth noting that for more die-hard players, the arcade and score attack offer a much less forgiving difficulty than the story mode.
Of course, none of this matters if the game doesn’t play well. Sine Mora features pinpoint controls and decent hit boxes. Shots have impact, and the game just feels great to play. The lush visuals add to the experience for sure, this game reminds me of a current generation version of Einhander.
The EX version of the game throws in a few new challenges. The graphics receive a nice update, even native 4K and 60fps on PS4 Pro, but the real star of this version is two player co-op for the story mode. Playing with a friend really makes for a more enjoyable ride.
Sine Mora EX is a port of game no one played that will likely not get played again. The genre is niche and the timing was bad. However, for those that do pick it up you are in for a treat. This is truly one of the finest shooters of the last two generations. I would love to see a follow-up next time though. This generation of remasters is starting to get out of hand.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.