Not Your Father’s Bullet Hell
I honestly did not think I would be going back to Sine Mora ever again. Not because it was bad or not worthy of playing more; quite the opposite. In my initial review, I had some quite glowing things to say about the game! But I don’t feel that bullet hell shoot-’em-ups are my strong suit, and as I seem to remember, I thought I’d gotten as far as I could get in Sine Mora.
Sometimes, a fresh positive attitude and enough time passed to forget how difficult something was can do wonders.
My return to Sine Mora began with an innocent enough question from my son while browsing through my downloaded game collection on the 360: “Dad, what kind of game is Sine Mora?” Well, Son, why don’t you just try it out? (In retrospect, the mere fact that I hadn’t yet deleted the game from my system in, what?, at least two years probably shows that my subconscious always knew I’d come back to it someday.)
After my son struggled through the prologue and into the first stage, I took a seat back at the flight stick, you know, just to show off some of the game’s cooler moments and bosses. In the process of doing so, I got intrigued in seeing just how hard the game got in its later stages. The next thing you know, I’m progressing further than I’d ever previously done. That’s all she wrote; I came back the next day for a final run at the last level or two and BOOOM!
In its own way, Sine Mora and other bullet hell type games (the only other one I own is Deathsmiles) are good fun as pick-up-and-play-every-once-in-a-blue-moon titles. They’re simple to control, fun to progress through, provide a short challenge, and don’t ask you to tax your noodle through a convoluted plot or meticulous menu screens and combat systems.
That bit about not taxing your noodle? Well, I say that because, after trying in vain to make sense of what the hell the stories of these games are, I finally just give up. The plot can go to (bullet) hell for all I care! It really doesn’t make a single bit of difference as far as the game is concerned; nobody plays these titles for their emotionally engaging narrative. From what little I did glean from Sine Mora‘s cinematics and such is that there seem to be two separate timelines that the games jumps back and forth between, one of a father seeking revenge on the man who presumably killed his son, the other of said son in the past before his death. Upon completing the game, a twist is revealed where – **SPOILER!!** – the son wasn’t dead at all but rather faked his murder and went into hiding, assuming the identity of the man said to have killed him. The same man who is later killed by the grieving father in retribution for his son’s killing. All this is somehow set against a backdrop of a strange science fiction-ish civil war with airborne fighter pilots that are talking animals and robots, and…ah hell, screw it, I guess I don’t really understand it after all.
I appreciate that there is a story there at all. But honestly, I think that Sine Mora is well worth visiting and revisiting years later because it’s short, challenging, and gorgeous to look at. Love the story or leave it, that’s nothing to sneeze at!