Review: Sine Mora lights up the PS Vita as one of the year's best downloadable games
Another reviewer checked out Sine Mora for the PlayStation 3 a few days ago, and they came away with about the same level of awe that I did – Digital Reality, pairing up with Grasshopper Manufacture, managed to reinvigorate the long-standing "shmup" genre with a fresh twist of its own, adding the ability to slow time in certain spots to the player's advantage. Sometimes it'll be to avoid an incoming flight of otherwise unavoidable gunfire; other times it'll simply allow for a fleeting enough moment to collect a precious power-up. But either way, it serves its purpose well, and makes the game stand out on the Sony console.
But what about on the portable front? Sine Mora was also released as a downloadable title for the PS Vita, and while the game doesn't qualify as one of those Cross-Buy titles (where you get the portable version for free by buying the console version), there's still more than enough here to justify the $9.99 price tag again. This is a shooter that deserves a spot on your memory card.
Like the console version, Sine Mora more than serves its purpose when it comes to gameplay on the Vita. You're able to slow down time once again by holding down the shoulder button, though you're limited in its usage, thanks to a ticking clock that appears at the top of the screen. It's best saved for dire circumstances, as you've got plenty of firepower to aid you in the meantime. The various power-ups you can pick up really lend a hand, primarily with how your blaster extends its impact, and how secondary weapons really come through as needed. The lock-on missiles are probably the best, as you can easily wipe out a powerful cannon with one blast.
The game is hard on one of the higher-up settings, but it seems that, for the Vita version, Digital Reality made it somewhat tolerable on a lower setting. While this may be a disappointment for hardcore "shmup" fans, it opens the door for casual players to give it a try – which is certainly welcome. Besides, on the highest setting, Sine Mora will eat even the most attributed "shmup" fan for breakfast. Go on, try it.
Sine Mora is one of the most beautiful downloadable games I've seen for the Vita to date. The backdrops really shine on the handheld, even if they aren't in 3D like its console brethren. Colors really pop out, particularly in the enclosed lava levels, where orange liquid spews out of the walls while enemies fly at you in the forefront. The frame rate remains constant, and you even have the option to skip past the somewhat bland dialogue, if you so choose. (Some of it's funny, though. Just saying.)
Perhaps the best part of Sine Mora's design lies within its bosses. These are old-school enemies all the way, requiring you to shoot them apart, piece by piece, until they finally crumble. Their designs are elegant, while at the same time challenging. The final one will definitely put you through your paces, that's for sure.
As for the sound, it's awesome. Pop on some headphones and you'll be treated to a visceral selection of booming sound effects, along with somewhat hilarious garbled banter from your fellow pilots. The Akira Yakaoma-produced soundtrack is also noteworthy, with its haunting melodies and thrilling riffs. This could be some of his best work since Silent Hill.
It would've been nice for this game to have been a Cross-Buy title, as well as offered some Cross-Play compatibility with the PS3 version. As it stands, though, Sine Mora is still a hell of a shooter, with its new time-bending aspect and plenty to offer to rookies and devoted bullet dodgers alike. No Vita fan should be without it.