Having played my share of rail shooters, I’ve come to expect certain things from them. Non-stop bullet barrages like R-Type, all sorts of power ups and weapon types like in Gaieres, to the unique giant multi-phase bosses like Raiden. Unfortunately, Sine Mora doesn’t deliver on any of these.
The game originally released on Xbox 360 and PS3 with decent reviews. I, unfortunately, cannot agree with such reviews. The game has gorgeous graphics and decent sound, but that’s about where the buck stops with this game. I will try to lay out the issues with the game.
First, the game tries to use a unique mechanic of time in order to continue playing through the level. How you gain more time is by killing enemies and you lose time every time you get hit by the enemy or it’s bullets. The time also plays a second role by providing you with a power to slow or speed up time to dodge tight situations. The mechanic is unique and interesting, but it leads to distractions as you focus on how much time you have left too much, instead of dodging bullets.
Second, being a scrolling shooter requires the ability to work fly by twitch controls. In Sine Mora EX the controls just feel excessively sluggish. Moving around the screen and dodging bullets felt like I was moving through molasses. There were unique mechanics that allows you to slow down and control time, to make tight squeezes between bullets and to dodge the wall of tunnels.
Third, there were too many unnecessary lulls in the game with shifts in “perspective”. The game would put pauses in the action to allow for changing perspective. This would take a moment where action was happening and suddenly drag it to a standstill. This shift occurred on too frequent of a basis to keep a person engaged in the levels.
Fourth, the game just lacks a plethora of enemies to keep you dodging and on edge throughout a level. They come out pretty much in a linear charge and in such small amounts that you wonder if you are really playing a scrolling shooter, or just a flying platformer with a handful of goombas to stomp on that are intersparsed throughout the level.
Fifth, the bosses were mediocre. They were all bullet storms that just more or less had you target one area. The “multi-stages” of a boss get ruined due to the perspective shifts discussed previously. There really isn’t a sense of power when you destroy the monstrous boss that should cover half the screen and seems unstoppable.
Finally, the game was written with a slightly confusing and convoluted storyline. It was a bit hard for me to follow and was a bit dragged out because of the slow levels. The game is a little over two (2) hours which is just about right for a scrolling shooter, but with the dragging perspective changes, it felt a bit longer than it needed to be.