Shoot em ups always have a particular fan base of gamers who are just downright crazy to consider situational suicide. These titles are referred as bullet hell, STG or death wish titles because of the intensity and demand that it requires from the player. Digital Reality’s Sine Mora comes in and offers this experience that we are familiar with from ages past in a forgivable way. By this I mean that experienced and inexperienced users of this genre can pick it up and find value there.
Sine Mora’s story finds a serial killer (Koss) smuggling military bots in the process of blackmailing a girl. Your mission by way of the Phantom Cell is to get to Siriad (floating fortress) while a talented profile by the name of Argus tries to stop all of this madness. Stories like these offering a web of complexity and potential confusion have always intrigued me in these types of games. I’ve always wondered why there is even a story in this type of games in the first place – maybe it matters; to some. Sine Mora offers a story mode (main campaign), arcade mode (sans story), score attack and boss training. As you progress through the story more you unlock the bosses to train with as well as the different characters to use in the arcade, score attack and boss training mode.
I’ve always enjoyed these types of games so when I jumped in the story mode and went to town I was very pleased on how forgiving the game actually is. You’re essentially racing against time and every enemy you shoot down adds additional time to your time gauge. If you run out of time or get shot to many times you die and have to restart. You also get weapon upgrades – your primary weapon offers permanent upgrades in 9 steps while your sub-weapon although it’s the most effective is limited in ammo. The time capsules that you pick up allow you to slow down the bullets and everything on the screen to buy you more time – this is also limited. There are seven stages in the game and each stage has multiple checkpoints and once you get to those checkpoints the timer resets for you – make sure you get to the next checkpoints without dying if you want to continue your progress. Now, continues – the story modes allots for 11 credits so as you progress through the game’s stages if you run out of continues – gamer over. Fortunately, you can pick up where you left of and continued your quest till you beat the stages.
The boss battles are pretty intense but you have help during these encounters because the weak points of the bosses are highlighted for your shooting pleasure. The bosses are destroyed in stages until you’ve ultimately annihilated them. Once the bosses are defeated you’re able to practice you skills on them in boss training so you can be more effective next time you play the story mode or the other modes for the more experienced players. There are eight pilots to choose from once unlocked and three planes each with different hit boxes so choose carefully.
Visually the game is absolutely gorgeous and I believe this is where the price is justified. The game play is great, don’t get me wrong but I get where the 1200 Microsoft points come into play. What I don’t get is the all Hungarian language deal. This is my gripe; I would have definitely waited on the developers a few more months to give me some English narration and text instead of the Hungarian narration and English text. As much as I was trying to follow every part of the story, though compelling that narration messed me up and was a turn off to the point where I wanted to fast forward just to get back to the game play. Maybe I’m being a little picky but that really bugged me. Having said that I believe that this games deserves to be picked up if you are a fan of the genre because it offers quite a bit of replay value and background story through the characters and the beautiful transitional scenes. I would say if you’re new to the genre it would take about 6+ hours to complete the story mode and maybe less than that for experienced users.
Sine Mora is an elegant masterpiece that gracefully welcomes newcomers to the genre as well as serving a reminder to the seasoned pilots that there is a challenge here for them. Whether you call it bullet hell, STG or plain old suicidal insanity this genre is still alive and well – A successful addition to the STG genre by Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture.