Game Review: Sine Mora (PS Vita)

Making its debut on the Xbox 360 at the beginning of 2012, Sine Mora slipped out onto the PS Vita and PS3 at the end of that year with little fanfare. A digital-only release, the game had the potential to be one of the Vita’s early AAA titles but instead was left as a hidden gem that many overlooked…

What Is Sine Mora?

Describing itself as a diesel-punk shooter, the side-scrolling shoot-em-up is one of those rarities that features a story-driven narrative that adds to the gameplay rather than seems to be just tagged onto the game for the sake of it. I won’t spoil it here for any of you who decide to delve into the game, but it helps guide the player seamlessly through the game’s massive seven levels that are on offer.

All of the usual bullet hell shoot-em-up tick boxes are there – lavish visuals, huge bosses, powerups, smart bombs and with a staggering 50 different combinations of weapons at your disposal there’s plenty of diversity in the gameplay. But what makes Sine Mora stand out when it comes to the gameplay mechanics is the time manipulation function.

This is something that you can only use a finite number of times during the game but when things get particularly hectic on screen, at a touch of a button everything on screen slows down. Your ship and all your weapons still function normally, but everything else runs in slow motion giving you much needed breathing room. It can be a real life-saver during some of the tougher bosses and it’s something I’ve never seen before.

New For The Vita

There are several difficulty levels to make the game as accessible as possible to even the most casual of gamers, and while this has been released on a wide range of platforms this PS Vita port has been updated and tweaked specifically for the handheld.

In our case, there’s a new character added to the game (also present in the PS3 port), touch controls, and unlockable bonuses including an art gallery. But whether it’s new game modes, additional levels or something else completely all of the versions have their own individuality. Where the PS Vita comes into its own is in the graphics department.

An Added Dimension…

This may come as something of a surprise to many, but the little handheld has a trick up its sleeve where Sine Mora is concerned. When playing the game normally it looks absolutely incredible, delivering some of the most astonishing graphics you will see in a side-scrolling shooter on the Vita. But then, on closer inspection on the main menu you discover a hidden option for a new graphics mode that turns the game on its head completely…

It’s time to hunt through your drawers and take a trip back to the 1980s as Sine Mora gives players a stereoscopic 3D mode! You’ll need a pair of red/blue 3D glasses (the sort that were given away with comics and magazines back in the day), but once you’ve got them on, you’re in for a treat. Sine Mora springs to life in 3D as the game leaps right out of the Vita’s screen – ships fly towards you, the scenery feels as if there’s real depth to it while the graphics show no sign of slowdown or reduction in definition.

While the 3D isn’t to everyone’s taste it looks truly remarkable and it’s amazing to see this being delivered by the Vita. I have to be honest and say that while it is something of a gimmick, it looks so good that it’s worth getting the game just to experience the 3D effect!

Sound is equally impressive, with a stunning soundtrack composed by Akira Yamaoka, who was the sound designer for Silent Hill. He’s not the only creative talent behind the game with an impressive track record though as the end of level bosses were designed by renowned anime creator Mahiro Maeda, who has a string of impressive titles to his name.

But How Does It Play?

But none of that matters if the game isn’t fun to play. It is an enjoyable shooter, and the time manipulation feature adds an innovative twist, but it’s not quite enough to lift it above being another good-looking shooter. Truthfully, it’s the graphics that are the high point of what is really an above average game.

It has to be said that the difficulty on later stages may be off-putting for some. This is a tough game and its certainly not one for those of you looking for a more relaxing shooter. There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s one of the best looking in the genre and certainly most innovative, but at least from the Vita’s point of view the gimmick is more of a selling point than the strength of the game itself.

At A Glance

  • Title: Sine Mora
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Memory Card Spare Required: TBC
  • Cross Buy: N/A
  • Cross Play: N/A
  • Online Multiplayer: N
  • Local Multiplayer: N
  • PlayStation TV Compatible: N

Vita Player Rating - 07

Screenshots taken from different versions of the game.

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About Simon Plumbe 1078 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe