Often, titles in the 'shmup' genre can turn all but the most hardcore players away. Their insistence on pattern memorization, split-second reflexes, tiny hitboxes, and an incredibly unforgiving streak tend to have an adverse effect on someone who simply wants to play a shooty kind of game.
Sine Mora, thankfully, isn't one of these titles.
Oh, sure, you're racing through side-scrolling shoot-em-up gameplay, blowing up enemies while avoiding their shots, but the game changes up the formula in enough ways that those who aren't fans of repeating bosses and levels again and again can enjoy the game. Plus, there's no reason big fans of the genre couldn't enjoy it as well, but I'll get to that later.
The story...well, the story is a little convoluted. It involves time-travel, revenge, genocide, and a host of animals flying ships all over the place. Also, all the spoken dialogue in the game is Hungarian (native language of the developers). Normally I'd say that plot isn't important to this kind of game, but Sine Mora still does its best to present a story, and present it well, even though you can fast-forward through cutscenes just by holding down a button.
The story is presented beautifully, however, with swooping camera angles and vibrant scenery. The game looks gorgeous, that much is for sure, whether you're looking at underground caverns, sun-drenched islands, or underwater passageways, it's certainly a sight to behold.
Time is your lifeline in Sine Mora. It drains at a constant rate, and getting hit depletes it. Shooting enemies gives you back precious seconds, so usually going on the aggressive will help you survive more often than not. Time is also related to your special powers - in story mode, you're given the ability to slow time, which is necessary to avoid some flurries of bullets. It's also useful for when you get hit, as any weapon powerups you've collected will fly away rapidly, disappearing within seconds if you don't manage to pick them up.
Arcade mode switches a lot of things up. See, in Story Mode each level gives you the pilot (which determines your alternate super shot) and the ship you'll be on, and you're always playing on Normal mode. In Arcade mode, you're given the option to choose your pilot and your ship, and then your difficulty. Things get significantly harder when we're talking about enemies exploding with every death and a reduced number of seconds on the clock. You also get a choice of time-related powers: in addition to slowing down time, you can also have a power that reflects bullets and one that reverses time.
This is the mode perfect for the shmup enthusiasts in the crowd, this is where things get tough. Unlike in story mode, where you can continue from levels when you die, you must start at the beginning of the game and make it all the way to the end. In addition, your performance with each combination of ship, pilot, and power is tracked, allowing some serious challenge if you want it.
Sine Mora tries to toe the line between a more casual title and the hardcore label typically assigned to these kinds of games, and it actually ends up doing it quite well. It's a fun game to play through, and if you're looking for more challenge it certainly delivers in spades, and looks damn good doing so. Good for skill levels of all , give Sine Mora a try if this kind of thing tickles your fancy.