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Ben Hornsby Ben Hornsby
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Sine Mora: Latin for something

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Sine Mora is Latin for... something! Something about furries and shmups, I bet. I'm just kidding: I'm pretty sure it has something to do with time, which ostensibly is at the core of the 'Sine Mora' experience. It's a fly-from-left-to-right 2D bullet-hell shooter, with the prerequisite floating gun upgrades and shield power-ups, but the mechanic hook is that in place of a health bar is a constantly-ticking timer. When it hits zero your ship explodes; if you get hit, you lose a couple seconds on the spot.

It sounds nice on paper, but when you're playing 'Sine Mora's' more challenging modes you simply can't get hit much, which would be just as true even without the fatal countdown. Time is also a major factor of the game's hilariously convoluted plot, which sees a group of rebels located throughout time fighting against... well, I don't know, to be honest. It's hard to follow, outside of a few hot little details: A father is trying to avenge his son's death while also going back in time to save his life; some kind of robot dude is being maybe-manipulated to go on a probably-suicide mission; some half-fox half-human rape victim is now being blackmailed into... uh, flying around and blowing up Megazords, I guess.

On the half-fox part: All the characters are half-animal, except maybe the robot guy. There's a handicapped buffalo guy, a lizard guy, a maybe-bear guy, and a couple kind of ambiguous fox-cat chicks. The game never specifically mentions the fact that the characters are all anthropomorphic, which is weird; it does specifically mention that one of them was raped, which is weird. I don't know. At least it doesn't dwell on it too long.

Playing 'Sine Mora,' I did a lot of dodging two-second bullet patterns before blowing off part of some kind of boss Megazord before pseudo-cutscening around to another of its limbs. The arcade and score attack modes have you doing pretty much the same thing, but they're way way harder, which is cool. Completing one of these stages skillfully (all S+ Rank, all the time) mostly requires you to know when to flex your muscles; if you string out your time-slowing juice and your mega-attack ammo far enough, you can just bunch up and charge through all the scariest bullet patterns. It's not an easy game, but you don't quite have to be a genius.

Playing the game gives me the feeling that Regular Reviews are probably freaking out about how good The Graphics are, though I'm just gonna say that, yeah, it looks good enough for me. Some of the bosses look hilarious enough. I like the creaky, lurching airship things in the first level. The underground train thing is pretty alright. The cave segment with the worms looks dull and plays dull. My favorite part of the game - maybe not visually - is the spiral maze near the end, that has you navigate it while it rotates on its axis. It's a strange little puzzle.

The story is just pretentious enough to be funny, the graphics are just great enough to be pretty good, and the rules of the game are just complex enough to be engaging; if there's anything that makes 'Sine Mora' really remarkable, it's its eccentric pedigree. The guys that made it are a team of Hungarian RTS experts, Grasshopper Manufacture's Goichi 'Punk's Not Dead' Suda (of 'Killer 7' most famously and 'Shadows of the Damned' most recently) is listed as a producer, and the guy who scored 'Silent Hill' did the soundtrack, maybe. If you're the kind of guy that knows those names, that's a pretty weird group!

Even if you don't know those names, 'Sine Mora' is nice and chewy, and you can sense that there is a strange handful of creative minds at work even if you go in cold. I've played some better shooters than 'Sine Mora,' but I've played a hell of a lot of worse videogames, too.

3 stars out of 4

Ben Hornsby wonders whether he's tough enough to handle Deathsmiles.


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