Sine Mora EX – Review (PS4)
Sine Mora EX is a beautiful ‘shmup’ that’s been around for a bit now. The original ‘Sine Mora’ came out in November 2012. The recent releases to the current consoles, add the ‘EX’ to the title and add a bit more to the core game. (Sine Mora EX was released this year, 2017). Gamers familiar with the original Sine Mora can expect the same gameplay that you’ve loved. It adds local co-op up to two players in single players mode, new challenge levels, and new versus modes (Race, Tanks, and Dodgeball). It really is a great game with some amazing story built in which is starting to become more ‘the norm’ in shmups. (See Drifting Lands – Review).
Like most Shmups, the idea is to do as much damage and not take damage by avoiding the ridiculous amount of bullets flying towards you. This is easier said than done, each stage is gorgeously brutal and hell-bent on not letting you. While playing there are multiple items the enemies drop when destroyed. These range from, extending your time, upping your damage, and items you can ‘speed up’ with.
Each stage grants you a set time to complete it, unfortunately, every time you take damage you lose a chunk of time. This can really get messy to be able to finish the stage on time, especially with the larger than life bosses created by Mahiro Maeda…You’re going to need to plan your attacks. Getting damage boosts drops physically and visually upgrades your base weapon. Depending on the character you are using, sometimes your spread gets bigger, or just shoot more projectiles at one time. Like the time loss when hit, you will also lose some levels of your damage. Yet, unlike time, you can try to regather your damage tokens and continue the fight. With ‘Speed Up’, you have the ability to slow time around you. This is especially helpful when trying to avoid damage. Protip: It can also help you deal major damage!
The graphics are so damn beautiful! The details of the ships and enemies are eye candy. The stages themselves are a treat of their own. Everything flows so smoothly it’s hard not to get lost in the visuals of the game. The weapon animations on both the characters you play and the bosses are epic. The team did a damn good job with all visual elements of the game. Some of my favorite parts in the game is when you transition around something in the stage. For example circling around a pillar and changing the original direction you were shooting in. In one particular scene, you circled around a massive boss. It allowed showing the true scale of the boss and it looked bad ass as well!
The story was much more engrossing than I expected. It was also much darker and grittier than I expected as well. There were some plot twists and ideas that made me raise my eyebrows a bit. It flirted with ideas of backstabbing and revenge. It even touched on more extreme ideas of concentration camps and genocide. On top of all the themes, the way it was presented was awesome. Before, during, and after each stage you will hear chatter and conversations over the radio. After you complete that current stage you will sometimes then get to play on the other side of that conversation! It’s a great way to expand on the story and I loved it!
Story mode overall isn’t too long. If you are a Shmup veteran you can probably get through it in an hour or so. The addition of challenge levels, and arcade mode, really adds to the replayability of Sine Mora EX. Other modes include; Score Attack, Boss Training, and versus. They really set the game up to better yourself with these additional modes. Especially with the multiple difficulties, you can choose from in the arcade mode one could get lost in this game for a while.
The Bottom Line
Sine Mora EX is an amazing shmup! The story and presentation should be welcoming to newcomers of the genre. Shmup veterans will love the additional modes and the fun ranking system in the arcade mode. Being available on all consoles, including the Switch. I would recommend getting Sine Mora EX in your library!
Note: GameOctane Editor Jason Germino received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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+ Graphics are amazing and beautifully detailed
+ Story is engrossing and very well presented
+ Unique time-based gameplay is fun and refreshing
+ Multiple modes to play with after the story is done
- Story is fairly quick
- Can feel very unfair at times
- Some cutscenes are longer than stages themselves