Replaying a game you haven’t played in five years lets you see a lot of things you missed the first time. This brings the classic adage, “what’s old is new again” to light. Sine Mora returns thanks to new publisher THQ Nordic, in the form of Sine Mora EX. Sine Mora EX brings the somber story and visually striking game back to PC, and introduces the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners.
Sine Mora was already a looker five years ago, but looks more so now, with improved rendering and higher resolutions (yes, like 4K) in Sine Mora EX. The updates to the game are across the board, introducing a proper 16:9 aspect ratio (where the original game was 16:10 and is still playable this way. While I appreciate the effort of adding a fully English voice-over to the game, the original Hungarian voice-over with English text was such a powerful and impactful way to present the game’s story with voices. In terms of what’s new, there’s now room for 2 players in Story Mode in local co-op. There’s new versus modes, such as Race, Tanks, and Dodgeball which all do exactly what you think they do.
Having reviewed Sine Mora back in 2012, I have forgotten a lot of the concepts and not sure if I’m experiencing old, or new bugs. For instance, in the prologue level, I had died just as I picked a path. When I respawned, it was just at a checkpoint, but the pathing that I was supposed to take didn’t spawn, and I just was flying aimlessly with no enemies and reached the ending that was clearly not how it was supposed to go. I’m also seeing things for the first time, like how the airships flap their wings as if they were birds. It’s such a small, but neat detail in playing the game.
Sine Mora EX‘s core gameplay revolves around time management. Instead of a health bar you manage, it’s time. You get time from killing enemies on the screen, and lose time when you get hit. In addition from racking up kills, you earn a combo multiplier. This scoring system is explored to its fullest in the rest of the game’s modes like Arcade, and Challenge Mode where scoring is optimal to getting a high place among the leaderboards.
The story for Sine Mora EX, is somber. It deals with some heavy themes and realities we see today. But it also makes for a great way for those new to the genre to get acquainted, even if it gets rather difficult by the game’s end. Which, by most standards, isn’t very long. It is seven stages long, but each one is hand-crafted and beautifully designed. You’ll take control of multiple aircraft high in the air and transform as they dive into the ocean. They each have their own time manipulation abilities, and can throw you off-guard from level to level.
Sine Mora EX is still a strong shmup, and standout title in the genre. It does new and exciting things, and is now released on platforms that handle this game more elegantly and still has a great presentation. It has a few minor bugs and those who’ve already played the game won’t get much out of the new re-release, but it absolutely worth playing even if you’re not a fan of bullet hell style games. Sine Mora EX remains one of my favorite shmups with its complex story and deep gameplay and robust modes.
A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes