Sine Mora is a 2.5D side-scrolling shoot 'em up developed by Digital Reality (along with Grasshopper Manufacture) and published digitally by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 on March 21, 2012.
Playing similarly to other side-scrolling shoot-'em-ups (such as Progear, the R-Type series, and the Gradius series), with elements from later "bullet hell" style shoot-'em-ups, Sine Mora is known for its time-based vitality mechanic (where rather than having one-hit death and multiple lives, players have a countdown timer that both replenishes on eliminating enemies and depletes on receiving damage). It is also known for its anthropomorphic dieselpunk fantasy universe and for its voice acting, which is done in Digital Reality's native Hungarian.
The game also features a dedicated Story mode (with an easier difficulty curve, stage-specific airplane and pilot combinations, voice acting, and between-stage monologues), a unique weapon upgrade system (where receiving damage causes some of the ship's firepower upgrades to scatter around the playfield), the Airplane, Pilot, and Time Capsule systems (where the Airplane determines the main weapon, the Pilot determines the limited-use sub-weapon, and the Time Capsule allows players to use special abilities to either slow down time, rewind time, or deflect projectiles), and two-player asymmetrical co-operative multiplayer in certain game modes (with the other player as a companion unit).
The lore of the game follows the aftermath of a conflict between the Atarach Kingdom (comprised of the Enkie race, which is renowed for manipulating time) and the imperialist Layil Empire (who have time manipulation through a mysterious machine called "The Project") in the planet Seol. The game follows the destruction of the Atarach Kingdom by nuclear bombardment, with players controlling two separate rebel forces against the Empire: one led by Akyta Dryad (the leader of an Enkie resistance cell) and one led by Ronotra Koss (an ex-Empire pilot grieving over the execution of his son).
The game was later released for the PC on November 9, 2012, for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita on November 20, 2012, for iOS devices on July 16, 2013, for the Ouya on August 13, 2013, and for Android devices on August 16, 2013. Kalypso Media released the PC version, while Digital Reality released all others. The PSVita version was ported by G.rev, who also brought Wilhelmine Muller from their early shoot-'em-up Under Defeat as a guest character. The iOS and Android versions were ported by Pocket Scientists.
It later received an enhanced version, titled Sine Mora EX, on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on August 8, 2017, with a Nintendo Switch release later on September 26, 2017. Released by THQ Nordic (later HandyGames), this version features full English voice-overs (with the original's Hungarian now optional), co-operative play in Story mode, new competitive modes and challenge levels, and full 4K support (in some versions).
The soundtrack is composed by Akira Yamaoka, best known for his work on the Silent Hill series, and features boss designs by anime artist Mahiro Maeda.
The game features three Airplanes (for the main weapon upgrades), seven Pilots (for the sub-weapon), and three Time Capsules (for using time manipulation devices) for players to choose from. This makes up the "Chronome" system (which tracks all 63 combinations of Planes, Pilots, and Capsules as specific numbers).
Instead of traditional lives, survival is tied to a timer that constantly counts down. Killing enemies adds time, while getting hit subtracts it. When the timer reaches 0 the player loses.
The player ship has a primary weapon that can be upgraded through ten levels. There are also be two shields, a red and a blue, temporarily protecting the ship from bullets of their respective colors. A meter restricts the player's time manipulation powers, and can be refilled by picking up certain items.
The game has seven stages, thirteen boss fights and four modes; Story, Arcade, Score Attack and Boss Training, each featuring a variety of difficulty settings as well as a complex rank system that further modifies the level of challenge.
Its body is adorned with "classic black-red Eternal War colours" and a golden rose decal on its wing. A large turret rests atop the Merenstein VI's cockpit.
Upgrading the Me-VI's firepower adds larger shots in an average-sized arc, with further upgrades adding more-damaging missiles alongside them.
The BS4-VR SOPRANO is one of the most expensive fighters ever built on Seol. Its construction is manly of carbon fiber, with a very limited production run - only 210 Sopranos had been built, including 10 special editions exclusively for the Imperial Intelligence.
Upgrading the BS4-VR's firepower adds additional small shots in a narrow arc for more pinpoint damage.
Mass-manufactured by the Gorman-Eysler Company, the Liberator was flown by several top-scoring aces of the Empire. Originally conceived as an interceptor, later it was used more widely, most notably as a bomber escort aircraft.
Upgrading the GE-22's firepower adds additional small shots in a wide arc for more coverage.
The leader of an Enkie resistance cell. Formerly a paleoseismologist, she became a fugitive during the war, being hounded by several legendary Collaborationist headhunters. It is later revealed that she is being monitored by Imperial Intelligence, but for an unknown purpose.
Her sub-weapon, Azimuth Battery, fires a barrage of very large (and very powerful) shots in a wide arc.
In Story Mode, Dryad pilots a black/red Merenstein VI.
A former Collaborationist captain, serving the 11th Squadron of the Imperial Air Force. He defected to the Enkie side during the war after getting left behind in an armed conflict with the Enkies. It is later revealed that he has a sexual relationship with Dryad.
His sub-weapon, Zebaoth Driller, fires a large continuous laser beam in front of his ship.
In Story Mode, Ytoo pilots a yellow/white Merenstein VI.
An Enkie aristocrat who still clings to the upper-class idea that the world of Seol belongs to the controllers, not the commoners.
Her sub-weapon, OA-62-Sonic Sword, summons two devastating short-ranged lasers that swing around her ship (from the back to the front).
In Story Mode, Durak pilots a brown/yellow Merenstein VI.
One of the few ace pilots of the Empire, becoming completely disillusioned after losing both of his legs in an accident. When his son, Argus Pytel, is executed by the Empire, he enacts revenge by hunting down the officers involved.
His sub-weapon, Punk Spirit, summons a large explosion directly on top of his ship.
In Story Mode, Koss pilots a black/yellow GE-22 Liberator.
A pilot and mechanic suffering from cancer of the larynx. Her nation was assimilated by the Empire long ago, but became a citizen by forging a counterfeit ID. She is blackmailed to assist Koss in his plans, as he knows about her forged identity.
Her sub-weapon, Gemini Drone, summons two invincible companion units above and below the aircraft, continuously firing either standard shots in a forward path (GE-22), missiles in a forward path (Me-VI), or standard shots in an inward arc (BS4-VR).
In Story Mode, Magasa pilots a green/white GE-22 Liberator.
An AiBot ordered for the Imperial Guard's Elite Squadron, only to be stolen and reprogrammed by Koss for his plans.
Its sub-weapon, the A-B-C Cluster Bomb, deploys a group of floating mines in front of the ship that explode after a short time.
In Story Mode, Garai pilots a grey/white BS4-VR Soprano.
Koss's son and an ace fighter pilot, later becoming a high-ranking Collaborationist officer of the Layil Empire. He is believed to have been executed by a fellow Imperial officer for refusing to drop a nuclear payload on the Enkie capital city.
His sub-weapon, Seeker Missiles, fires a barrage of homing missiles that seek nearby enemies.
In Story Mode, Pytel pilots a green/white GE-22 Liberator. In Arcade Mode, he is unlocked from the start.
Nicknamed "Defumi" by her fellow compatriots, Wilhelmine was invited to Seol by the Ancients, the old masters of the planet. Her goals here are unknown.
Her sub-weapon, UD Bomb,
She is exclusive to the PSVita version of the game and is a guest character from Under Defeat. She is absent from Story Mode and is unlocked from the start in other modes.
Power-Ups & Time Capsules
- Firepower (Red, three stripes) - Upgrades the player's Firepower Level by one step, improving the ship's main weapons. This power-up is unique in that receiving damage causes most of the player's Firepower Level steps to scatter from the ship as Firepower power-ups.
- Capsule (Dark Blue, left-facing arrow) - Replenishes 1/4 of the Capsule Gauge.
- Sub-Weapon (Green, right-facing arrow) - Replenishes one Sub-Weapon stock, up to a maximum of five.
- Time (Orange, up-facing arrow) - Extends the Timer by five seconds.
- Shield (Light Blue, down-facing arrow) - Grants a one-use Shield that negates damage received for a short time once the ship is hit.
- Time Extend (Purple, + symbol) - Grants a one-use Time Extension that grants ten extra seconds to the Timer once the Timer itself depletes.
- Score Bonus (Bronze/Silver/Gold, score value) - Adds bonus points to the player's score, while increasing the value of the next Score Bonus token. Missing a Score Bonus token resets the next one down to its lowest value. Values are: 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, 8000, 9000, 10000, 20000, 40000, 60000, 80000, and 100000.
Prior to the start of each playthrough, players choose from one of three "Time Capsules", which serve as the game's special ability. Players have a "Capsule Gauge", which depletes over time while the ability is active and is replenished by collecting green Capsule power-ups.
Each ability is active while the Time Capsule button is held and the Capsule Gauge is not empty.
- Speed Up - Causes everything but the player's aircraft to slow down, allowing players to dodge shots and maneuver terrain easier. This is the only one allowed in Story Mode.
- Roll Back - Causes the game to slowly rewind back to an earlier point in time, which is primarily used to negate damage received. It can be done even as the player's aircraft is destroyed and can only rewind up to 10 actual seconds (with further active use simply pausing the game).
- Reflection - Summons a shield around the player's aircraft that negates all damage while deflecting enemy projectiles back at them.
Stages & Bosses
The base game has seven total Stages, most of which are split into two sub-Stages:
- Moneta Point Research Base
- Bokumono Undersea Prison Facility
- Losei Imperial AiBorg Factory
- Cardinal Canyon, Losei
- Mirage Mountain
- Tira, The Imperial Capital
- Flying Fortress Siriad
Arcade Progression & Bosses
- Stage I.A - Kolobok, Sentinel Hexapus
- Stage I.B - Matouschka, Hyper Guardian Train
- Stage II.A - Melkor, Perimeter Watchtower
- Stage II.B - Acridoidea, Warder Submarine
- Stage III.A - Tsuchigumo, Alloy Selector Spider
- Stage III.B - Angrenost, AiBot Assembly Hall
- Stage IV.A - Libelle, Ancient Predator
- Stage IV.B - Papa Carlo, Heavy Cutter Loader
- Stage V.A - Steropes, Super Siege Cyclops
- Stage V.B - Palladion, Modified Observatory
- Stage VI.A - Domus, SSOB PU DEKCUF
- Stage VI.B - B630214, Extraordinary Airship
- Stage VII - Orphan, Project Defender
The game's Story Mode has different stage progression, in which the game is split into two-Stage "Chapters", which alternate between both of its Stages in a different pattern: the first stage's "A" act, followed by the second stage's "B" act, followed by the second stage's "A" act, followed by the first stage's "A" act. The mode is set up so that each of the seven playable characters are used twice.
By completing the game on the Challenging difficulty, players can unlock an alternate narration setting with a different set of between-stage monologues and an alternate ending.
- Prologue (Tutorial) - Unique tutorial stage (Above Mirage Mountain), where players pilot an unnamed pilot (based on Pytel) in the year (or "Circle") 1317.
- Chapter I (Stage I) - Stage I.A (Ytoo, 102), Stage II.B (Koss, 1380)
- Chapter I (Stage II) - Stage II.A (Magusa, 1380), Stage I.B (Dryad, 102)
- Chapter II (Stage III) - Stage III.A (Durak, 22), Stage IV.B (Garai, 1405)
- Chapter II (Stage IV) - Stage IV.A (Pytel, 1284), Stage III.B (Durak, 22)
- Chapter III (Stage V) - Stage V.A (Garai, 1317), Stage VI.B (Ytoo, 0)
- Chapter III (Stage VI) - Stage VI.A (Koss, 1517), Stage V.B (Magusa, 1317)
- Epilogue (Stage VII) - Stage VII (Dryad, 0)
Sine Mora was announced on August 19th by Goichi Suda at Gamescom 2010, though he's not actively involved in the project himself. Grasshopper Manufacture will provide art direction, music and sound effects, while Digital Reality will take care of game mechanics. The development team's primary aspiration is to make the game accessible to newcomers while simultaneously giving it enough depth to justify the recording of a superplay DVD.