Sine Mora Review for PS Vita

Sine Mora Review for PS Vita

A Tragically Underappreciated Masterpiece Goes Portable

Earlier this year, I reviewed the then-Xbox-360-exclusive title Sine Mora. I liked it quite well, so when the Vita version came across my desk in my review pile, I was fairly excited to return to the crazy, anthropomorphic animal-infested, diesel-punk world of Sine Mora.

So yeah, the game is finally available to PS3 and PS Vita owners. Now, for you Sony fans, when those Xbox people try to poke fun at you for being so late to the Sine Mora party, you can explain to them that the Vita version is perhaps the definitive version of the game, and that their impatience is not a very attractive quality. So there.

I champion the Vita version for a few reasons. First of all, the portability makes this bullet hell of a game much more enjoyable. I mean, whenever I can play a game in bed or on the train (or on the toilet, ahem), I’m happy. But there’s more to it that just that.

Sine Mora Screenshot

You see, the Vita’s screen is a lot smaller, and that actually makes it easier to keep track of the onscreen action. And Sine Mora is an extremely chaotic game that throws mesmerizing projectile patterns at you as fast as you can react to them. I found myself getting through a lot of the more difficult game segments on the first try, though I remember them giving me incredible amounts of trouble back when I played through them on the 360.

Additionally, the Vita has an extra character (also available in the PS3 version) and touch controls (obviously not available in the PS3 version). However, there’s absolutely no reason to ever touch the screen here. The traditional sticks and face buttons of the Vita feel pretty awesome. In fact, they feel slightly more precise than they did on the 360. (I found it a lot easier to control the trajectory of my weapons this time around, whereas on the 360 I would find myself overcorrecting way too often.)

Sine Mora Screenshot

Another Vita-exclusive feature is that you can use the system’s GPS to track your real-life travel distance and unlock 50 pieces of concept artwork. I admit that I didn’t travel outside my bedroom with Sine Mora, and therefore didn’t get to unlock any of this art. I’m sure it’s beautiful, though.

Visually, this is obviously an inferior version of the game, as the graphics had to be scaled down to the Vita’s 544p resolution. This means there will be some jagged edges in places that were smooth on the big screen. Still, Sine Mora is an absolutely gorgeous game, and it might be one of the best looking games the Vita has seen yet. The backgrounds are excruciatingly detailed, the diesel-punk aesthetic is tremendously well-implemented, and even the graphic design of the menu interface is absolutely beautiful.

Oh yes, Sine Mora has this bizarre neo-industrial backdrop. It presents a world filled with anthropomorphic talking animals, though don’t expect the storyline to be a lighthearted, cartoony romp. This isn’t a 2D equivalent of Star Fox; this is a seriously disturbing story filled with a lot of adult themes and an ironic ending that will make fans of time travel stories wet themselves with sociopathic glee.

Sine Mora Screenshot

Oh yes, I should probably address the story elements. You see, if you want to have any clue what’s going on in this story, you’re going to have to do a lot of reading. See, there aren’t really cutscenes, per se, and the story is told through massive walls of text. Sure, it’s narrated, but it’s not in English. As I mentioned in my review of the 360 version , this is an element that not everyone’s going to be into, but I personally loved it. The Hungarian voice work truly makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a completely different world. Also, if you hate to read, you’re probably not smart enough to fully enjoy the story here anyway. It’s kind of a brain-bender, you illiterate lughead, you.

But that’s okay, because the gameplay more than delivers, even to the slow-witted buffoons who won’t understand the genius of the incredibly well-written story. This is a fast-paced, insane bullet hell that very rarely lets up. And the basic premise is completely awesome: Instead of having a health bar, you are constantly racing against the clock. Taking damage subtracts precious seconds from the countdown timer, while destroying enemies will add chunks of time. Not only is this a really cool and inventive game mechanic, but it ties the gameplay to the time-travel elements of the storyline in a way that’s completely seamless.

Sine Mora Screenshot

The downside to all this? The story mode is incredibly short. This time through, I finished the game in about two and a half hours. With the Vita version being slightly easier (due to the size of the screen, as I mentioned earlier), it becomes painfully obvious just how short the campaign is here.

But the game comes stuffed with bonus features, like the insanely difficult Arcade mode, a mode that lets you re-fight any of the game’s bosses, and an exclusive Challenge mode, which is said to be so hard that even the developers struggled with it. Obviously, I didn’t finish this mode. But it’s hard. Very hard.

Now, I did take some time to explore some of the less-talked-about features. For example, the Trophies here are all based on getting yourself promoted through the ranks. Being promoted requires you to accomplish various tasks as you play through the game, and some of these tasks seem completely random. Thankfully, Sine Mora has a handy Trophy menu that tracks your progress through all these ranks. The obsessive Trophy hunter will definitely put a serious time investment into the game in order to unlock them all.

I guess this is the part of the review where I remind you that, besides the scaled-down visuals (which are still damn pretty), the PS Vita version of Sine Mora is the bees’ knees. If you have a Vita and haven’t played this yet, you absolutely need to. It’ll give you an excuse to dust off that little guy for a bit, anyway.

This is a scaled-down version of its console brethren, but Sine Mora is still a fabulous looking game. 4.5 Control
The Vita’s controls just feel more precise to me, and the smaller screen makes the enemy projectiles easier to keep track of. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I personally love the Hungarian voice acting, and the music is very cool. 4.0 Play Value
A very short campaign is offset by additional modes and some insane difficulty settings. And Trophy completionists will spend a long time ranking up on their way to Platinum Trophy glory. 4.3 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Engrossing story integrated seamlessly into the action to elevate the user experience.
  • Unique, time-extension-based gameplay.
  • 7 beautifully crafted, diverse stages.
  • Over 50 different weapon combinations with time-manipulating devices.
  • Great accessibility – Story Mode is tailored to not scare away absolute newcomers to the genre.
  • Risk and reward – multiple difficulty levels in Arcade Mode with deep scoring and hidden rank system for the more experienced players.
  • Music composed by Akira Yamaoka, Sound Director of Silent Hill and Shadows of the Damned.

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