Everything in every level of Sine Mora is visually stunning, definitely demo worthy material if ever you wanted to show off your Vita to a friend. Looks great on PS3 too.
Sine Mora is a cross platform M-rated side scrolling shoot’em up (SHMUP) with some bullet hell moments, whereby you’re required to carefully and often quickly navigate through a screenful of enemy ammunition while shooting back. Your plane is equipped with a primary weapon that can be upgraded, a secondary weapon with limited ammo, and the ability to slow time. The M-rating stems from the language used in the text-based dialogue and Hungarian voice overs throughout the Story Mode. The Story Mode is where you’ll unlock the easiest trophies and all the characters for use in the other modes of the game.
The entire story in Story Mode is painstakingly delivered to you – the gamer – by way of entire screens full of text between missions and impossible to follow voice overs by Hungarian-speaking characters. I honestly read most of the text in the Story Mode but the Hungarian voice overs were an unbearable distraction. It wasn’t until several missions later that I remembered how to mute my Vita’s audio so I could read in peace. But you’ll get no peace in reading this story. Its written as though its a 1000 page fantasy novel while only offering you 20 pages to read.
Gameplay is the standard side-scrolling SHMUP. What is unique about Sine Mora is that shooting enemy targets adds to a timer which acts as your ship’s health. Adversely, taking damage results in a loss of time. When your time is up your ship explodes and you must use a credit to continue from the last checkpoint, which is normally the beginning of the level. There were too many times where I thought I was supposed to avoid the level obstacles, but in fact I was supposed to shoot them to add the necessary time needed to reach the end of that particular section.
I found this game to be a lot of fun. Instead of just trying to avoid taking enemy fire for the sake of taking enemy fire, I was just trying to hang on to my weapon upgrades. Every time my ship was hit, red orbs representing all the weapon upgrades I’ve collected would pop out and float away. I would then make a made dash through the bullet hell to try to get them back before they fluttered off the screen. The one thing I didn’t like was how frequently the game would halt gameplay simply to transition between conflicts. Shoot twelve enemies, cutscene around mountain, shoot twenty more enemies, cutscene through tunnel. This would go on until I finally reached the next epic boss battle.
After having completed the seven stages of Story Mode I tried out Arcade Mode. This mode is a nice change of pace because you must pick an airplane, pilot, capsule, and finally see all 72 levels. With the three planes to choose from there are alternate paint schemes to unlock. I had already unlocked all the pilots from playing through the Story Mode. There are three capsules to choose from which will add a defensive ability to your otherwise defenseless plane. Though it seemed as though I could choose which level I wanted to play, each time I’d start Arcade Mode anew it would start from Stage 1. Since there is no difficulty lower than Hard and Insane, Arcade Mode is very challenging.
There are even more modes to grind your teeth over in Sine Mora such as Score Attack, which is nearly identical to Arcade Mode except that you can keep restarting after every death rather than be limited by only a few lives. Of course the objective is not only to survive and defeat the boss, but also to get a high score. Boss Training is the final option in the Vita version and this is my favorite mode. In this mode you get to square off against any boss you want. Even better than that is you get to choose the upgraded level of your primary weapon, how many sub-weapons you carry, and the rate at which you capsule refills. Plus, all four difficulties are available to choose from; Normal, Challenging, Hard, and Insane. Boss Training is the best way to acquire many of the difficult criteria requirements for the rank trophies.
There are a few gadgety extras on the Main Menu worth mentioning. There is the Scoreboards where you can check out the online high scores of people who are good at the game. The scoreboards are unified and actually reflect if the high score was achieved on PS3 or Vita. A Trophies option is there in-game to tell you exactly what criteria is required to unlock each of the 12 trophies. In the Vita version there is a GPS Gallery that tracks the distance you’ve traveled and unlocks images at different milestones. The third image gallery is next for me to unlock once I’ve traveled 1290 miles; I’m at 80.552 miles. It may be a while.
Not much is normally said about Help & Options, but there are two items that you must know about if you’ve read this far into my review. Encyclopedia houses the remaining 9,000 pages to that book I mentioned early. Actually, it is a ton of additional reading that tells more about the game than I’d normally like to know. The other is an interesting option in Controls that turns the Vita into a touch screen-only gaming device. Why anyone would want that when it comes with amazingly functional physical buttons is beyond me.
This is one of the best looking shooters I’ve played and the further I progressed into the game the better looking it got. From the terrain to the backdrops, from the cutscenes to the bosses themselves. Everything in every level of Sine Mora is visually stunning, definitely demo worthy material if ever you wanted to show off your Vita to a friend.
Unfortunately, there is no #YOPO powered Cross Buy for buying Sine Mora, so if you want to own both versions you’ll need to pay for them individually. I would personally have a hard time selling this to someone for both systems, but I know there are probably those gamers that want to experience their games at home and on the road. There is a ton of gameplay in this game and the trophies are at the heart of its replay value. The Story is deep where some games have none and Boss Training is the best thing since sliced bread.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
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Developer:Digital Reality, Grasshopper Manufacture
Release Date:November 2012
Price:$9.99, £7.99 €9.99