The majority of Sine Mora was developed in Budapest by Digital Reality, but eccentric Japanese developer Grasshopper Manufacture provided concept art and sound design. You can tell, too, as there’s a Suda51 tinge of the bizarre floating around here, with the classically vivid shoot-em-up contrasting against the dark, warped themes of the underlying plot. Meanwhile, the aesthetics bound disconcertingly from Dieselpunk armies into Steampunk boss fights and back again. It is to Digital Reality’s credit, then, that this madness is properly contained.
Based on the story, however, I would keep Hungary’s men in white coats on speed dial. Though it features an anthropomorphic cast, Sine Mora‘s plot revolves around themes of time travel and totalitarian government, and even into much, much darker areas such as rape and slavery – it’s like if Steven Moffat and China Miévelle decided to resurrect the Star Fox franchise. This is a tale mostly told in short monologues before levels, and although it’s often a touch too vague it’s curious enough to retain interest. The design decision to have each monologue spoken aloud in Hungarian is inspired, too; in the context of Sine Mora the Uralic dialect takes on an almost otherworldly quality.
Even if the plot is an unexpected boon, it’s a similarly wise decision to restrict it to the Story Mode. For players with no time for text, the presentation stands up on its own in the Arcade and Score Attack Modes. The environments are as vivacious as they are detailed, and span everything from war-torn island shores to a futuristic metropolis in the vein of Blade Runner. Each one is complemented masterfully by Akira Yamaoka’s subtle, non-intrusive electronica score. The game has a strong cyberpunk vibe and Yamaoka’s chiming bleeps and bloops retain a haunting sense of futurism.