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Sine Mora Review

Sine Mora has been around for awhile on all major platforms including game consoles, PC, iOS, and finally on Android as well. Sine Mora is a side scrolling “bullet hell” shooter that takes place in a dieselpunk universe, much like the old arcade shooters that we all used to play and love over 20 years ago, except this one brings cutting edge graphics and innovative gameplay on portable devices.

Sine Mora comes from the Hungarian developer Digital Reality in collaboration with Grasshopper Manufacture, the Japanese company that gave us No More Heroes. Regardless of the name (Sine Mora means “Without Delay” on Latin), all the voice acting is done in Hungarian accompanied by English subtitles.

The Sentinel lurking from below

The Sentinel lurking from below

The Double Plot

So you want a story eh? How about two. The first plot involves a father whose son gets executed by the empire for refusing to nuke the Enkies during the war. The second plot shows the last survivor of the Enkie race, bound to take revenge on the empire for destroying their race. Sounds simple? Well, actually it’s very complicated. While playing the story mode, the plot is being filled with comments, dialogues and cutscenes that add pieces and reveal the storyline as you progress through the game and completing the story on different difficulty setting, will reveal more elements. The story itself however, no matter if you like it or not, is not something you will have to follow to the letter. It’s primary role is to give you something to go for and broaden the gameplay. If you really really like to better understand what happens (and when), you can follow this link on GameFaqs, where MrBeens took his time explaining the better part of it (warning spoilers!).

Gameplay, graphics

As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, Sine Mora is a biplane side scrolling shooter that brings in innovative time based gameplay. The clock starts on the beginning of each segment. Allowing bullets to hit you or crashing in objects will reduce, while killing enemies will add time to the counter. As the last couple of seconds start ticking, you will feel the tension to shoot something just so you can survive a bit more and finish the level.

While flying through stages filled will bullets and lasers shooting everywhere (hence the name Bullet Hell), destroyed enemies will occasionally drop power ups in form of time expansion, shooting power, bombs or point bonuses. Apart from firing the main gun and performing special attacks (bombs), your plane is equipped with a time capsule that can hold different power-ups like slowing down time, reflecting bullets or damage immunity. The boss fights that you encounter on the end of each level are simply stunning. Trying to hit the weak spots and avoid the fire while admiring the tiny details, models and animations of the mechanical enemies can be quite problematic.

Graphics are nothing short of amazing. Sine Mora utilizes textured 3D models and backgrounds on a 2D plane where the action takes place. From time to time the camera spins around revealing the battlefield from different angle, leaving the impression that the background is actually there as part of the game and not just as pretty picture behind your plane. If you compare the graphics between Android and PC for example, you will notice certain differences and lack of some effects, but nevertheless the game still looks good. Besides, PC always wins compared to everything 😉

How do I fly this thing

iOS users complained about the unresponsive virtual joystick and developers tried to fix this by implementing couple of choices including floating and relative joysticks and dedicated touch sensitive portion of the screen. Unfortunately I found them all equally unresponsive and difficult to control the plane as they tend to lag behind the movement of your finger. This can be quite a problem especially on later levels where precise movement is necessary to avoid projectiles or maneuver the plane through tunnels and obstacles. The other thing I didn’t like about Sine Mora is the lower part of the screen being covered by the controls, narrowing the playfield and taking 1/3 of the screen.

I foolishly tried connecting USB and Bluetooth gamepads in hope that the developer made a mistake forgetting to mention 3rd party controller support in the game description. Too bad as external gamepad with analog sticks would be a perfect match for this game. Let’s hope that the support will be implemented somewhere down the road.

Yes you should buy

Sine Mora scores big points on pretty much every aspect, except the control scheme. Since the game is hard as it is, the laggy controls will only make you suffer more. If you own any other gaming system with physical controllers I recommend buying Sine Mora on that platform first, then add it to your Android collection as well. Or buy the game now and hope the developer will implement support for USB and Bluetooth controllers. Either way get it, it’s good.

by Dejan B.

Full blown side scrolling shooter Laggy unresponsive on-screen controls
Visually pleasing graphics No support for external gamepads
Exciting boss fights and nice overall gameplay

Sine Mora
Developer: THQ Nordic
Price: $7.06*