XBLA shooter Sine MoraIt’s fairly easy to say that shoot’em ups are some of the most overdone games in the industry. Sine Mora seeks to change that with an innovative use of time and a dark, mature narrative. But does the game break records or run out of time?

The single most interesting thing about Sine Mora is how time works within the game. Instead of health or lives, time is the only thing that stands between victory and utter annihilation. But do not mistake this for some time trial tack on, this is an in depth system that seamlessly creates fluent and fun gameplay. The way it works is every enemy you kill your time increases but every time you take damage your time decreases all while the clock is ticking down.

During the gameplay you are able to manipulate time and slow it down to bullet-time state. Giving you time to maneuver through convoluted series of projectiles but this feature is a privilege and you must learn to use it sparingly. There are times when you have 100 seconds on the clock and you are decimating every pathetic enemy that gets in your way. But there are also those times when you reach 0.5 seconds and struggle to stay above zero while enemies pound you into dirt. This makes for exciting gameplay that is always keeping you on your toes.

Despite the innovation Sine Mora has bought to the genre it still borrows classic ideas as well to incorporate into its gameplay. It has a primary and secondary weapon system. Many different upgrades drop from enemies like extra time, secondary weapon ammunition, shields, and primary weapons upgrades. The weapon upgrades increase the strength and number of the primary weapons but if you are hit by just one projectile multiple upgrades will fly all over the screen and will be lost forever if you do not pick them up.

XBLA shooter Sine MoraThe story on the other hand was good but not great. The game is set in a world of anthropomorphic animals. It primarily revolves around a father and his quest for revenge against the people that executed his son but the story also focuses on the struggles of the Enkies, a race that was enslaved at the end of a great war. Unfortunately due to the lack of English voice acting following the story while playing the game could be hard to follow. And while there are mature concepts and twists and turns the game wraps up in about 2 to 3 hours on normal difficulty so you never get attached to the characters.

After you finish the main campaign you can test your skill in arcade mode. You are able to select from every plane you unlocked and choose from any boss fight you completed. Then get ready to die over and over again because this mode is tough but tough in a good way because it challenges you to improve upon yourself. Almost every achievement in this game is geared toward your leaderboard standing in the game. This makes it a competitive game that really holds some replay value.

Although the arcade mode is a welcome addition to the brief campaign, there are no new maps or planes to experiment with and it would have been nice to see a cooperative mode thrown in there.

XBLA shooter Sine MoraThe design and sound work wonders for building the atmosphere in the game. The composer for the game is the same one who created the soundtrack to the original Silent Hills so this game does an amazing job of building up the suspense and tension that the player feels. Grasshopper Manufacture, the developers in charge of the design, calls Sine Mora’s unique style “diesel punk”. The design simply is amazing; the set pieces look truly fantastic. Everything from the sleek look of the planes to the bad ass looking bosses comes together beautifully.

Overall the game has some truly brilliant concepts and delivers on most of them. Unfortunately the length of the main game, lack of English voice actors, and the absence of a cooperative mode holds it back from perfection. At a 15 dollar price point these seemingly small gripes are slightly amplified. For me, this game is truly amazing and despite these small annoyances. I enjoyed how Sine Mora was able to mix new and innovative ideas on a classic genre and kept the features that make them so great in the first place.

Final Score: 8.5/10