Developer: Digital Reality
Publisher: Nordic Games, THQ Nordic
Genre: 2D Shooter (Shmup)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Rating: M for Mature
It’s safe to say the 2D shooter is not the easiest genre to start off with if you’re new to the gaming scene. Classics like Asteroids and Hyper Duel, to more modern takes such as Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun, provide a visceral experience unlike any other genre in the medium. Five years ago, developer Grasshopper Manufacture collaborated with a small Hungarian studio, Digital Reality, to release its unique take on the 2D shooter genre with Sine Mora. Fast forward to the present and you have the release of Sine Mora Ex, an enhanced version of the original Sine Mora that was released in 2012. This new version offers a few additions, as well as enhanced visuals to provide the definitive Sine Mora experience.
Violence: While there is no physical violence of any sort against the characters, there is plenty of onscreen destruction due to the fact of shooting down many planes and other vehicles. When encountering certain villains, they will threaten you with death and even going to the point of saying “I’m going to enjoy watching you burn.”
Language/crude humor: There is plenty to go around as many of the characters are not ashamed to say the “f-word”, “s***”, “d***”, “h***”, and use the Lord’s name in vain. It’s safe to say, if you are offended by language, it’s better to just play the Arcade mode or not at all.
Sexual Content: No onscreen sexual content to speak of, although the anthropomorphic animals give off suggestive themes through dialogue and some of the still pictures of the animals can be mildly over-sexualized without nudity.
Other negative themes: Other than the script being filled with swearing, there is also a deeper narrative theme delving into rape, slavery, and a fascist government. Elements such as genocidal revenge, sexual assault, and overthrowing governments permeate the deeper story thread and hard choices have to be made by both sides.
For those new to Sine Mora, it’s a shoot ‘em up (Shmup) with a unique mechanic. Instead of having a traditional health bar and dying instantly once it’s depleted, you have a timer at the top of the screen. Every time you take damage you lose a little bit of time and if all your time runs out it’s game over. To help combat this, your ship is equipped with a powerful sub-weapon that depends on the pilot you are currently controlling and you can also slow down time to help maneuver through bullets and tight corridors with ease.
Sine Mora Ex features multiple modes of play, multiple difficulties, and plenty of intense action for classic shoot ‘em up fans to really sink their teeth into. When first jumping into this version it’s immediately apparent how unique and unconventional this shmup really is, with a gorgeous set of visuals and an excellent score by the revered Silent Hill music composer: Akira Yamaoka.
The story revolves around a genocide taking place. The pilots of your ships and of the enemies consist of anthropomorphic animals with a pretty neat art style. For the most part, you are battling enemy ships and giant-sized bosses, each with a unique flair and great designs to them making each one stand out. Speaking of the visuals, the backgrounds in particular are beautifully rendered and gorgeous to behold, possibly being distracting when you are looking at how eye-popping they are while also trying to dodge all the enemies incoming fire.
Once you complete the Story mode, you will unlock a chapter select tab in which you can go back and tackle any of the previous missions you have already completed. Arcade mode is basically the Story mode without all the talking and cutscenes. The Versus mode has three variations which basically involve racing, a twin-stick combat arena, and a game where you defend generators. There are also challenges to complete and local co-op included where one player controls the flight of the ship while another controls which direction to fire.
Like many shoot ‘em ups the main campaign isn’t necessarily extremely long, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a lot to do in the base game. Mainly because the difficulty ramps up to extreme circumstances as you progress through the missions and when you include multiple difficulties plus challenges, there is a fair amount of content in Sine Mora Ex. Getting use to the whole time mechanic and building up enough time so you can complete some of the tougher areas is not only a challenge but also enjoyable for the most part.
For those who have already played Sine Mora in the past what’s new here in Sine Mora Ex isn’t particularly overwhelming outside of co-op. There are some new challenges added from the previous game and graphical tweaks throughout, including now being able to display a 16×9 aspect ratio and mostly running at 60 fps. Also, a full English voice cast has been added providing a more authentic presentation due to the original only being done in Hungarian. Technically, Sine Mora Ex ran fine without any type of glitching, crashing, or slowdown of any sort.
Overall, Sine Mora Ex is a fantastic shoot ‘em up which I recommend even more to those who love polished bullet-hell titles. The main issues stem from the Ex version not seeming like a true step up from the original title and it should also be noted how each platform has a vastly different price point, ranging from $9.99 on PC to $29.99 for the upcoming Nintendo Switch version.
The Bottom Line