A mature narrative, impressive artistic design, terrific boss fights and compelling mechanics make Sine Mora a gripping shoot ’em up that’s hard to put down.
Historically, seldom has the shoot ’em up genre been innovative. After all, moving a spacecraft and shooting incoming waves of enemies that blend amid the mayhem is already gleefully empowering. Sine Mora has all those qualities, but its story deals with some provocative themes that are rarely discussed in our beloved medium, let alone the shoot ’em up genre. The result of such a unique concoction is an engrossing game that will keep you engaged long after its six chapters have ended.
At its core, Sine Mora (which means “without delay” in Latin) is a traditional side-scrolling shoot ’em up in which the main objective is to annihilate as many enemy units as possible. To defend from those enemies, you have access to two types of weapons: a primary weapon and a secondary weapon. Most of the times, you’ll be using the former which can be upgraded up to nine times. The latter, on the other hand, has some truly devastating attacks and when you use it, you can easily defeat multiple enemies at the same time.
As in most shoot ’em ups, Sine Mora encourages you to shoot numerous enemies without getting hit. Consecutive kills raise the score multiplier which is great for those players who want to make it to the top of the leaderboards. Using the secondary weapon though, will reset the multiplier. Additionally, score tokens can be collected to build up a token chain, but if you miss one of these items, the chain is broken and you’re forced to start all over again. Nevertheless, score tokens aren’t the only items you can collect in the battlefield, since there are multiple floating power-ups, including time extend, fire power, sub-weapon, capsule, shield and so on and so forth.
All of this power-ups come in handy when you face bosses. Each level ends in a climactic encounter against a gargantuan creature and these monsters look terrific. Most bosses represent a level in and of themselves, since they have a handful of weak points that you need to destroy. At the same time, these creatures are divided into different sections and figuring out the most effective way to bring them down is eminently satisfying.
But getting to those boss fights is also thrilling. Some of the levels are challenging to navigate, since there are aerial levels, underwater sections, labyrinthine caves and so on and so forth. But not only are those levels well crafted, they also look quite unique. Sine Mora exudes a steampunk atmosphere that not a lot a titles can pull off. Furthermore, the game has gorgeous visuals and those who have a PC powerful enough to display the ultra graphical setting will be looking at an extremely visually appealing title.
Up until this point, Sine Mora gives the impression of being a traditional side-scrolling shooter. But soon enough, you’ll realize that this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Sine Mora’s story is what makes this side-scrolling shooter unlike any other game in the genre. Without detailing the particulars of the game’s plot, Sine Mora puts you in the shoes of several anthropomorphic protagonists whose stories are somehow related. Some of the topics that Sine Mora introduces are quite mature for the genre, including monogamy, homicide, suicide and rape, to name but a few. Although some might think a group of animals talking about serious topics will diminish their impact, the story is handled well.
Finishing Sine Mora’s six chapters should take you four hours and while this sounds short, that’s long enough for the genre’s standards. Nevertheless, that time can be doubled if you play the additional modes. Once you’ve finished the single-player campaign, you can immerse yourself in modes such as arcade, score attack and boss training. While these modes won’t set the world on fire, it’s great to experience some of the game’s best features without feeling the pressure of paying attention to the convoluted story.
Unfortunately, Sine Mora isn’t without some flaws. The most apparent problem is related to the plot. Although the story has some provocative themes, the narrative can be confusing and it’s hard to keep track of all the characters and events mentioned in the cutscenes. In addition, the game’s extremely demanding from a hardware perspective, especially if you want to play Sine Mora in its ultra setting.
In the end, Sine Mora is a bold side-scrolling shoot ’em up. The game discusses some serious topics with assurance at the same time it features the traditional bullet hell action. If you’re looking for a shoot ’em up with simple controls, gripping mechanics, satisfying gameplay elements and a mature narrative, it doesn’t get better than Sine Mora.