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Review: Sine Mora EX (PC)By devidise At 07.08.2017 15:03

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Sine Mora EX is a side-scrolling shooter that feels like a major departure for the studio behind Shadow of the Damned, or, to make the point even better, Flower, Sun and Rain. The game plays, for all intents and purposes, like the time attack mode of any other side-scrolling shooter. Where it separates itself, however, is in how well it does so.

First-timers would do well to start with story mode, where they are taught the very fundamental, but very simple, controls that will keep them alive through Sine Mora EX. This is a bullet hell, but the distinction is how manageable it feels. It never feels cheap, or like the screen is getting full without giving a care if it's fair. It feels like an accessible shooter, and that's no small feat.

A lot of this is due to the "time management" style health system. The player doesn't need to monitor a health meter, but a timer. Taking damage lessens time, and also causes those precious power-ups to spill out onto the screen, like viscera. In an interesting Sonic-esque twist, there are a few precious moments to gather the power-ups back, instead of losing them forever.

Truth be told, this all sounds like it is too easy. There is a bar that can be used to slow down the movement of everything around the player-controlled craft, except the ship itself and the clock that practically tolls for thee. The player seems to be at a constant advantage, with backups for their backups. If this is how it sounds to you, you're sadly very wrong.

The prologue is easy enough, but as soon as the training wheels are taken off, the game gets hard almost immediately. The screen is littered with environmental hazards and enemy artillery. The player may find themselves trying to survive underwater, where the ship moves just as it would if a real ship could turn into a submarine and fly underwater, while retaining its ability to shoot lasers. Oh, if only!

There's a story here, though it's kind of absurd. It deals with some heavy themes, by any video game's standards, which is kind of nice, honestly. The real star of the show, though, is how stunning this game looks. The backdrop of each level is absolutely brimming with life. The fine details of every enemy, every plane you can pilot, and every environment are positively stunning. There's so much beauty to be found here, it's a shame you can't stop and enjoy it for a little bit.

There are other game modes, including the obligatory Arcade mode, a Score Attack mode, and a Boss mode. The Boss mode is great for getting used to fighting certain enemies, and will help players fine tune their skills. Bosses definitely feel like they have some cheap shots up their sleeves. One enemy can hit with a single oversized bullet, and reduce almost a minute of the allotted time.

Environmental issues also creep up, and one of the more annoying aspects is that colliding with literally anything causes damage. Now, it stands to reason that, in a real airplane, if the pilot clipped a rock ledge, they would take damage. Then again, bison can't talk, nor would they receive an eyepatch for ocular damage, so go find realism in this game.

The reason it's annoying is that there are moments where tight corridors require the player to have extremely good control over their movement, while also doing their best impression of a Tommy gun. This is where the game can occasionally verge into unfair territory, but fortunately it always manages to bring it back.

One of the cooler, but much harder, modes is the Challenge mode. The first challenge alone could require an absurd amount of attempts. Still, it's a lot of fun playing through the various modes. Thanks to incredibly tight controls and superb enemy placement, even those who have never touched a shooter before are likely to enjoy what is hidden in this game. That's fantastic news, because in this package, there is a version of the game for literally anyone. Whether you are a newb or a master, there is some gameplay here for you.

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Final Score
[i]Sine Mora EX[/i] is a lot of fun, with the occasional eye roll-inducing moment. Perhaps it's the weird story, or the irritating environmental hazards, but something is ever so slightly off here. As a whole, though, this is one of the best shooters on the market. Everyone should pick it up, unless, of course, you're not "one-eyed-bison-with-no-legs-flying-a-killing-machine" enough for it.



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