Sine Mora EX (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Shane Jury 22.10.2017

Review for Sine Mora EX on Nintendo Switch

First arriving on the Xbox Live Arcade download service in 2013, the original Sine Mora was widely praised by critics, and would see release later that year on multiple PlayStation formats, iOS, and even the Ouya of all things. Created by Digital Reality, and Grasshopper Manufacture (also making the next No More Heroes right now), an upgraded expansion named Sine Mora EX came out this summer for the newer generation of consoles, and a little later for Nintendo Switch. With Sine Mora EX now on store shelves both online and off, how worthy is it of a purchaser's choice?

The narrative structure of Sine Mora EX is deceptively strong and complex, for what looks like a standard shoot 'em up on the surface. Dubbed as a 'Diesel Punk'-inspired world, the game stars anthropomorphic characters and a woven plot involving revenge and time travel. Two main plotlines occur at once in different eras; one sees a vengeful father seeking retribution for the death of his son, and the other following the last avenging members of a species, with both groups fighting an evil Empire separately. This story is depicted via the game's Story Mode with interlude cut-scenes during and between levels, with superb voice work and character portraits. This constant drip-feed of story sadly doesn't do much to help its somewhat convoluted nature, as only with the encyclopaedia in the options menu can players gain a good understanding of the surrounding events in Sine Mora EX.

Screenshot for Sine Mora EX on Nintendo Switch

That isn't to say that the aesthetics of the world are lacking substance - far from it. Although gameplay operates on a dual-axis plane, as with most traditional shoot 'em-ups, the world is built in highly functional 3D, and combined with the fantastic art, makes for one of the best looking and playing shooters yet, whether in handheld or docked modes. Movement transitions make for the checkpoints of each level, and often bring quick character exposition, as well as new vantage points for certain bosses. Unlike most genre stable mates, there is no main health bar, with survival instead being linked to the level timer staying above zero. Being hit decreases the timer, while destroying enemies and gaining certain pick-ups can refill it, with a reset coming at every checkpoint. It can be tricky keeping an eye on both the timer and the maelstrom of bullets on-screen at the same time, but it is a refreshing take on an established expectation.

For self defence there is the main turret gun, which can be upgraded multiple times with random pick-ups but they are instantly scattered across the screen when hit, and there is the secondary weapon that differs between pilots and ships. Sub-weapons are of limited use but can turn the tide in a sticky situation, as with the biggest feature of the game, as well, the time manipulation. Selecting from three distinct options, players can Speed up to avoid bullets easier, Reflect them away temporarily, or Rollback time completely to even before being destroyed. Limited in Story Mode but freely selectable in Arcade, these customisation choices add greatly to the potential replayability and flexibility, especially with the Chromonomes grid in the latter mode that keeps track of all pilot and ship combos used.

Screenshot for Sine Mora EX on Nintendo Switch

Although the Story and Arcade Options are the main meat, the other choices from the menu are quite considerable. There is Score Attack and Boss Training, both of which feature singular unlocked levels for High Score and foe practicing purposes, and supporting global online leaderboards. A Challenge Mode contains unique scenarios not built for the faint of heart, as does the Achievements system, which asks many conditions to be met in the main game to unlock medals.

The two-player features in Sine Mora EX are fairly basic but a lot of fun. The second Joy-Con can join in for a co-operative helping experience in the Story Mode, as well as go against one another in three Versus mini-games, ranging from surviving against incoming obstacles to an airship version of Air Hockey. These features, whilst not likely to be a huge selling point for most due to their understated nature, are good additions to the overall package and help play to the strengths of the hardware.

Screenshot for Sine Mora EX on Nintendo Switch

Sine Mora EX contains plenty of content for its lower asking price, but one factor can either be a potentially huge selling point, or a means to avoid the game altogether. That is the overall difficulty. Simply put, Sine Mora EX is not an easy game, as is reflective of many in the genre, but this one can be unfairly so at times, particularly with the rare case of bullets blending into the colours of the environments, and one-hit obliteration kills from certain hazards in the levels. There are often prompts from the game in a checkpoint cut-scene beforehand to indicate these hazards, but the methods for actually getting around them can still be unclear and easy to mess up. Normal is the default difficulty choice, but challenging is only for the truest of hardcore players, and is the defining selection for Sine Mora EX as a whole; a visually great and wonderfully playable shooter with a level of hardship appealing to fans of the genre, yet not quite enough leeway for new pilot promotion.

Screenshot for Sine Mora EX on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Embodying a modern take on the shoot 'em-up formula, Sine Mora EX sits comfortably alongside the retro offerings of the genre already on Nintendo Switch, and blazes its own path forward with impressive visuals and strong world building lore. Said lore is a little convoluted at times, and the game can be too difficult for its own good, but those seeking a strong challenge will find plenty to enjoy.


Digital Reality


THQ Nordic





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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