Since its debut on Xbox Live Arcade, PS 3 and PS Vita in 2012, Sine Mora has received widespread critical acclaim for its splendid 3D visuals, unique time mechanic, and various game modes based on four difficulty levels.
If you are not familiar with Sine Mora, it is a side-scrolling shooter co-developed by Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture, combining the old school shoot ‘em up gameplay with contemporary presentation.
At first blush, the game closely resembles the common side-scrolling shooter, where you control your airplane to evade the enemy bullets and shoot your way through endless hordes of enemy planes as you navigate through the perilous environment. After you give it a try, you may find it fresh with engrossing back story and unique time-based gameplay.
It seems that back story is not a must for most shooters, but Sine Mora takes it seriously with two stories which revolve around revenge and time-travelling rebellion respectively. All of them are presented by pages of plain white text and voiced dialogue interludes. Although they are a little bit bewildering and uncorrelated with the action part in the game, to some extent, they contribute a lot to create mysterious atmosphere and immersive user experience.
What really distinguishes Sine Mora from its peers is the unique time mechanic. Instead of the conventional health bar, this game has a ticking countdown clock at the top of the screen, which means that occasional collisions between airplanes and being hit by the enemy bullet swarms will not result in death of or damage to your airplane, but rather a cruel penalty for precious seconds. Fortunately, you can add time to the counter by shooting down enemies, collecting time power-ups, or reaching the next checkpoint where the timer will be reset and your time mass will be stabilized. But in any case, your focus is still on annihilation of various enemy units before your time drains out. This innovative mechanic apparently runs counter to the traditional concept of this genre, but it is what makes Sine Mora such a refreshing title and stand out from others.
In order to strike a balance between challenge and accessibility for players at different levels, Sine Mora offers a story mode and an arcade mode spanning across four difficulty levels, namely, normally, challenging, hard, and insane. In the story mode especially designed for newbies, you are given plenty of time and are allowed to continue or restart the game from any previously unlocked stage. You can play through the story stage by stage, and unlock new characters, planes, and capsules. In the action-focused arcade mode for veterans, you are free to choose your pilot, capsule, and airplane with unique sub-weapon when facing off more aggressive enemy planes with shorter time. Besides, there are two special modes for different purposes. You can replay any unlocked stage for a short play in the score attack mode, and hone your duel skills with any encountered boss in the boss training mode.
Visually, Sine Mora looks gorgeous with intricately detailed backdrops, and sophisticated boss models designed by Japanese famous anime creator Mahiro Maeda. The only regret is that you are only allowed to play with 2D planes.