Review: Sine Mora

Review: Sine Mora

Rehashing the golden age of gaming nowadays generally entails some sort of HD remake or trying to figure just exactly how to hook your ColecoVision up to you 3D LED flatscreen. Either way, old school gaming is something that a vast majority of gamers love but rarely get the chance to experience without having to suffer through the shortcomings of yesteryear’s design and development. Thankfully, Sine Mora is here to show us that old school can be seamlessly woven into modern gaming without all this HD remake nonsense.

Sine Mora

Shoot ‘em ups, schumps, Gradius clones, or whatever you choose to call them, 2D side scrolling shooters like Sine Mora have been a rare commodity in the modern gaming industry, and decent ones are even harder to stumble upon. Many of you may be of the whole ‘you’ve played one, you’ve played them all’ mindset, but coming from someone who played far too much Gradius in its prime, Sine Mora is unlike anything I’ve ever played. And for the most part that’s a good thing.

Although story isn’t considered a large selling point for these titles, Sine Mora may have the most vastly absurd story I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing… and I don’t mean that in a good way. In a nutshell – or at least what I was able to comprehend – there exists a ragtag bunch of radicalist animals who find it their responsibility to prevent some type of genocide from happening. You experience the story from multiple perspectives, but each of those perspectives takes place at the exact same time, so needless to say it gets incredibly hard to follow. It doesn’t help that the entire thing is poorly translated – or it could have just been the cryptic/frilly style the writers were going for. Nevertheless, the voice-overs are impossible to listen to and the reading is even worse. Thankfully games in this vein don’t really care about story and Sine Mora allows you to skip all of it with Arcade Mode.

The traditional formula for side scrolling 2D shooters remains the same in Sine Mora, but if you are new to the genre, you may want to note that things haven’t always been this nice. It’s hard to imagine a game in this genre looking anything but average, but the game’s crisp diesel punk graphics create a certain atmosphere that is strikingly hard to not become engrossed in. Also, rather than rely on your typical health bar wherein a certain number of shots bring you down, you are now pitted against the clock.

Woven into the impossibly complex and jumbled mess of a story is some revelation about being able to control time from the comfort of your cockpit. How? I’m not quite sure; I just know that it adds a new element to the gameplay that actually spices things up quite a bit. The concept is quite simple. There is a clock at the top that ticks down and once it reaches zero, you die. However, ever y time you shoot down an enemy it adds time to the clock and every time you get hit you lose time. This sense of urgency often leaves you scrambling as the clock plummets towards zero to shoot anything at all.

Sine Mora

Controlling time comes in handy for certain sections of the game that require incredibly precise and tight maneuvering or for when you just need a break from the onslaught of enemy fire. Take heed though, the clock doesn’t slow down so use this power with caution.

Aside from those two changes, Since Mora is generally what you would expect from a game like this. However, what really sets this game apart is the incredible attention to detail and its ability to create awe inspiring sequences in a 2D space. Every bullet fired drops a visible shell from your ship and the background environments become almost too engaging as factories bustle with life and aerial battles rage in the skies beyond. Despite being relegated to a 2D plane, the camera frequently spins around, providing not only an amazing visual sequence, but a new perspective on the action as well.

While the boss battles are nothing to write home about, they do break up the monotony and help pace the game quite well. Although they can be quite exciting fight, hardly any of them gave me any problems at all. Thus, I was afraid that Sine Mora had sacrificed the genre’s fabled levels of difficulty in order to appeal to the more casual crowd.

The main game, tackled either through story mode or arcade mode, can easily be completed on normal without so much as a few restarts But you may as well consider that preschool because once you switch over to Advanced Arcade mode and start gunning for that top spot on the leaderboards you’re probably going to want tol put your controller down and give up. This game gets ruthlessly hard and is a great way to experience the anger and frustration of retro shooters with the flair and excitement of a modern title.

Sine Mora

Boned

If you don’t feel like destroying what nostalgic memories you have left  by reminding yourself why you quit these games in the first place you can also tackle the Score Attack or Boss Training modes. I actually recommend these modes for those who eventually want to take on the world in the leaderboards as they can provide you with some excellent training and frantic gameplay.

In all, Sine Mora has everything a retro 2D shooter fan is looking for while at the same time offering up a myriad of new features enticing enough to draw in the uninitiated. Sleek, sexy visuals and frantic, impossibly difficult (at times) gameplay make for a breath of fresh air in a genre that may as well have been packed in mothballs and stuffed in grandma’s closet for the past 20 years.

Score: 9.0/10

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