Friday, September 29, 2017

Review: Sine Mora EX


For anyone who has felt that overall the games on the Switch have been too easy (first, you’d be insane to begin with, but work with me) a game that revels in whooping your ass at every turn is officially here in the form of Sine Mora EX. While not fully a bullet-hell shooter, one that has near-constant and elaborate bullet patterns you need to memorize and be adept at evading to survive, this game deals up a challenge in its own form. Mixing elements of insane bullets to evade, close-quarters flying, time manipulation, massive and often challenging bosses, and if you don’t look out a kitchen sink may hit you too… just on the Normal level you’re likely to find yourself having to work to make it through!

To start let’s be crystal clear, the game is absolutely stunning to look at and plays very smoothly on the Switch. Lord knows you’ll need that silky control too as weaving in and out of enemy fire and evading massive wrecking balls, hordes of missile, or buzzsaws attached to bosses that often take up multiple screens takes some quick reflexes and you don’t need the game itself chugging on you. The focus on the visuals associated with the bosses and how they’re introduced with their name does a great job of elevating the spectacle of them nicely, making it all feel a bit more exciting in the process.

Running with the boss battles I’d say those are where the game shines the brightest. While in all cases you’ll need to defeat them by shooting them (obviously) in some specific places the scale of them, how they each have a sort of personality, and the fact that many of them have to be taken down over multiple phases make them notable and special. That isn’t to say that the diverse designs of the cannon fodder you’ll face aren’t appreciated. Since you’ll be moving through a variety of environments over the course of the game the enemies you’ll face in each have their own look and feel, and it’s an effort that is appreciated in making the game feel less like more of the same with more bullets that some games of this type can devolve into.


While it is easy to really dig the game on the surface level that isn’t to say people won’t have any issues or frustrations, though I’ll admit that overall I’m impressed that the EX version of the game has attempted to sand down some of the rougher edges of the original. The most important change is that the default challenge level of the game has been reduced in the story mode, and it is appreciated. There are always higher skill levels you can get to if you’re a veteran and like your shooters to be insane, but for someone less experienced the original game was pretty brutal. That isn’t to say it’s all now perfect as I still ran into periodic issues with surprises in terms of things I would collide with versus things in the background. In some stages it can be difficult to tell where you can fly and where you can’t. You can learn this, and it can be dealt with, but it can still be aggravating overall for people coming through their first time as a bit unfair. All that said, even though the main mode is more newbie-friendly included extras like the Challenge mode hit the ground running as pretty unforgiving. There are also some included Versus modes as well as a co-op option for play, and they’re appreciated for effort, but at the same time they’re not terribly substantial for more than kicking around here and there with a buddy a few times. Finally, I just don’t know quite what to say about the “story” in the game other than it being enormously weird and almost an excuse just to pepper in some bad language once in awhile or attempt to lend gravity to things with its tone. For the most part it’s as if you’ve been dropped into a movie two-thirds of the way in, past the point where the characters and motivations were introduced and explained, and are riding things out through the finale. Just a head scratcher and I’m not sure it was necessary.

As a full package Sine Mora EX fills in a gap in the Switch line-up unless you’ve been indulging in the NeoGeo shooter ports, which are hit and miss overall. As a showcase of the visuals the Switch is very capable of producing, particularly in handheld mode, the game looks incredibly good. For people who aren’t big shooter fans it could be hard to call, especially given the asking price. Though the difficulty level has been tweaked to make it more friendly I’m not positive what the longevity on the game will be unless you’re looking to spend time becoming better at shooters as a whole. For more experienced genre fans it’s an easier sell as not only will you be able to get rolling and enjoy getting to know the game initially but you’ll then have a meaty amount of content to revisit, refine, and work to max out your scores with. While it may have some issues Sine Mora EX is still an impressive shooter and a welcome addition to the Switch line-up.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • Among the most impressive visuals for a game on the Switch
  • The default skill level is challenging without being over-the-top
  • A fair amount of diverse content and great boss fights to battle and work to perfect your high scores with


Cons:
  • While the challenge level is more newbie-friendly the overall content in the game is still more geared towards veterans
  • The Versus and co-op elements in the game have value but they’re not game-changers to drive people to go out and get it
  • The situation with the story is really weird, given its incomprehensibility I think it does more harm with its presence than good
  • How reasonable the price is scales depending on how hardcore you are since that will influence the amount of the game’s content you’ll likely be able to fully enjoy


No comments:

Post a Comment