by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Fire Power +1, High Scores +2 (cntd)
Boss battles are featured every level and feel a bit too frequent to be special. Every few minutes, the game throws another giant nemesis at the player. While they are visually stunning, they are also formulaic and often come down to reacting to very limited firing patterns while targeting the cannons active at the time. Still, it's a lot of fun to blast away at a robotic kraken or maniacal choo-choo train while the screen fills up with heat seeking missiles.
High scores also play an important role, so much so that the game features two extra modes that focus on it explicitly. While racking up kills in Story Mode without taking damage builds a multiplier, Arcade Mode and Score Attack are really where to go when you want to play competitively. Each mode is brutally difficult and the game suggests that only experienced players take them on. Both choices allow the player to choose their plane before beginning, each with a unique game changing special ability, and drop the narrative entirely. Since the campaign lasts only four hours, it acts as preparation for these longer lasting, arcade harkening options. A boss training mode is also available which functions just as it sounds.
AAA Polish for a Week's Allowance
Visually the game is stunning. While the field of movement is strictly 2D, the camera often pans back to show the player circling mountains or entering hidden caves in a cinematic flourish. Backgrounds are filled with movement, which can be a bit confusing when enemies are visible but un-hittable, but it makes the game feel bigger and more alive than others of its kind. The level of detail is really surprising, both environmental and on individual ships, but it is the painterly quality of the final product that suggests an air of art. The variety is also refreshing and exciting. Within the first hour, the player will fly through the air and under the sea, navigate a cave of poisonous worms, and whizz hidden through a factory of burning refuse. The level of polish is AAA quality right down to the clean, crisp menu system that hints at minimalism but functions with refinement.
The audio in the game also draws the player in and finds that magical place where immersion becomes reality. The score also resounds, which is no surprise having been composed by Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame. Strangely, the developers chose to leave the original Hungarian dubs in place for the character voice-overs. This adds to the foreign quality of the world but it also seems at odds with the animal-esque main characters.
Sine Mora is a great value at the $9.99 asking price and would still be at $19.99. With a four hour Story Mode and dozens of hours of high score chasing, AI killing fun, $9.99 seems like a pittance. While boss battles can feel a bit too frequent and are too easy to diagnose, they are fresh and exciting. You do not unsee the robotic kraken nor forget its missile shooting tentacles. The game is hard, which may not endear it to newcomers, but is also at its most satisfying when encounters finally succeed. For players who like this genre or are willing to climb its learning curve, it is well worth the time and effort. Without question, Sine Mora is a recommended purchase.
Innovative design, beautiful visuals, rewarding gameplay, lots of replayability.
Can be very difficult.