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Video Game / Sine Mora

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Holding in his hands a giant sieve
Time stands ever sifting
He sifts through worlds, he picks them out
Not with regret, but with delight
He grieves only those that fall
And those that fall deserve to fall
Time spares no pity for offal
Waning nations, cold worlds',
Broken lives' miasmal desire
It's death they deserve - and nothing less.

Sine Mora is a side-scrolling Shoot 'Em Up game developed in a collaborative effort by Grasshopper Manufacture, and Digital Reality, written and directed by Theodore Reiker. It was published by Microsoft Studios on March 21st, 2012.

This 2D shooting side-scroller has a twist involving time control. There are no lives, and you don't immediately die when you're hit. Instead, players have a time meter constantly counting down. Destroying enemies adds time, while getting damaged removes time. This gives beginners more chances to make mistakes, but in advanced play, players need to constantly destroy enemies while not getting hurt to avoid the time running out. The airplanes in this game have different types of Time Capsules that have different time control effects, such as slowing the game down to avoid damage, or rewinding time, even after death.

Another thing that makes the game unique to the genre is the amount of depth that went into the game's chilling, tragic story and setting. The story is set in a Diesel Punk alien planet called Seol, with two major warring factions: The Empire and a time-controlling civilization known as The Enkies, with the story starting with the Enkie's obliteration. The story directly revolves around the actions of two different groups of Anti Heroes devastated by the recent events. Leading one group is Ronotra Koss, who seeks revenge against The Empire for the death of his son, Argus Pytel, dragging Myryan into the conflict via blackmail. The other major group is the last of The Resistance, consisting of Durak, Akyta Dryad, and Lynthe Ytoo. The language spoken in the game is Hungarian, telling a tragic story of revenge and genocide.

After players finish the Story, more hardcore players can try their hand at Arcade Mode, which only has two modes, Hard and Insane.

The game was rereleased as Sine Mora EX for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, and Nintendo Switch via THQ Nordic. Additions include improved rendering, co-op for up to 2 players in story mode, a 16:9 aspect ratio (while retaining the choice of changing it to 16:10), 3 new versus modes (Race, Tanks, and Dodgeball), new challenge levels, and an English dub (while keeping the original's Hungarian dub as an option). The PC and PS4 versions of the game also feature a native 4K at 60 FPS when played on a compatible PC engine and PS4 Pro, respectively.

Sine Mora contains examples of:

  • Airstrike Impossible: The harder prologue route, and Domus, a lategame boss.
  • The Alcoholic: Koss.
  • Alternative Calendar: The Enkies founded the first calendar of their world, with Circles being the largest time unit, essentially replacing years. The Empire founded its own calendar, banning all others. The Enkie calender counts down, though.
  • Anachronic Order: The story is told mostly in a straightforward timeline, but later bounces back and forth as flashbacks and time travel occur.
    • There's also some 'revisiting' of earlier levels but at different time-periods; for instance, Durak, Ytoo, and Dryad raid Moneta Point, a volcanic hellhole of a research station... which was, many years ago, Bokumono; a submerged, super-high-security prison guarded by a giant submarine.
  • And I Must Scream: The Empire's Project is to render the entire Enkie race immobile by disabling their bodies, leaving them unable to move or do anything while they study their ability to control time. Their collective, comatose bodies form a reactor for all of the Empire's time control.
  • Animal Motifs: Girai is a robot resembling an Orangutan.
    • A couple of Tsuchigumo's bullet patterns resemble webs, too.
    • Acridoidea looks vaguely like a grasshopper. Makes sense, as it is named after a superfamily of grasshoppers and locusts.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Argus fits the Wolverine very nicely, especially when he takes down the Libelle (a giant mechanical wasp-like thing) single-handedly after it forces his father to make an emergency landing. At first he comes off as a little Hot-Blooded, but later turns darker and moodier thanks to various events.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: If there are powerups near your ship when a cinematic starts, they will home into you.
  • Anti-Hero: Pretty much the whole cast, but Koss is a definite Type V. Doesn't give a damn about anything but his revenge, is hellbent on murdering every single member of the Cobalt King crew despite only one of them having anything to do with his son's death, and his plans include blackmailing a rape victim.
  • Attack Drone: Myryan's special ability, Gemini Drone.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Hyper Guardian Train Matouschka has a special weak spot that can only be hit when using the Slow Time capsule. Using it to destroy Matouschka is one of the requirements for the Master Sergeant rank and achievement.
  • Battleship Raid: The Prologue; the harder route has you do an Airstrike Impossible on one of the enemy flying fortresses. Literally an airstrike impossible, because you fly through the corridor so fast you'll almost certainly crash without using the Bullet Time feature. Many of the bosses count as well, as some of them are split up into distinct 'stages' with different parts and attack patterns.
  • Beam Spam: The Chameleon Cannon miniboss is a cluster of beam guns, backed up by some kind of overhead beam platform.
  • Because Destiny Says So: See Your Days Are Numbered.
  • Becoming the Mask: In the true ending, Argus Pytel becomes the traitor that stops the nuke.
  • BFG: The Merenstein and Soprano — the Merenstein's is located above the cockpit, whilst the Soprano's is center-line with another large gun underneath.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The huge glowing worms that fire green balls, and the giant bugs that fire huge sprays of poison. And then there's Libelle, a huge biomechanical dragonfly.
  • Big "NO!": Akita pulls one when she realizes that she deactivated the life support of the remaining Enkies.
  • Blue Blood: Durak.
  • Boss Subtitles: Each boss is introduced with a brief pause, showing their name and purpose. For example; Alloy Selector Spider Tsuchigumo.
  • Broken Ace: Koss
  • Broken Bird: Durak, one of the two last Enkies, who can't have children, and has been devastated over it.
  • Bullet Time: The 'default' time capsule allows you to slow down time. Or more accurately, slow down everything that isn't you; you continue to move and fire at full speed, but enemies and their projectiles move slower. Unfortunately, if you're playing for score, this wipes your entire multiplier.
  • The Chosen One: Enky, the first and greatest of the Enkies. Akyta Dryad and Lynthe Ytoo's son.
  • Continuing is Painful: Not as severe as say, Gradius, but if the player takes a hit, they drop some of their weapon upgrades; recklessly scrambling to retrieve them can cause the player to take more damage.
  • Cool Airship: Extraordinary Airship B630214
  • Cool Train: Hyper Guardian Train Matouschka, in Moneta Point.
  • Crapsack World: The earth quakes violently everywhere, The Empire kills off their elderly ritualistically, both the Empire and the Enkies have a strict caste system that rules over its subjects. And the Empire pretty much encompasses the whole planet.
  • Crosshair Aware: Whilst fighting the Chameleon Cannon mini-boss, targeting crosshairs will appear on the ground shortly before an overhead Wave-Motion Gun is fired.
  • Darker and Edgier: The characters are reminiscent of Star Fox, but the story is much more mature and tragic.
  • Death by Irony: Koss is killed by his own son, who he pretty much ripped apart the Empire trying to avenge.
    • To add another layer, Argus needs to be avenged because he was (allegedly) killed for disobeying an order to bomb the Enkie city. Then, he actually ends up being the man that he switched his name with. He disobeyed this order because he was tricked into killing his own father.
      • This adds another layer if we go for a particular interpretation of the Golden Ending. If Argus was actually both the pilot and the co-pilot (even if it goes against time travel rules), that means that Argus killed his counterpart of the future. That would mean that Koss' revenge made sense the whole time: he was really going for the man that killed his son.
  • Deflector Shield: One of the alternate Time Capsules is the Reflector, which does nothing to alter the flow of time. Instead, it creates a spherical barrier around the ship that reflects projectiles. The easy route in the Prologue also has enemies protected by invincible shields, and one boss has a shielded section that can deflect your own shots back at you.
  • Diesel Punk: Complete with planes that are absolutely watertight, and can 'fly' underwater (with little loss of maneuverability!) by rotating their wings 180 degrees. There are also larger flying craft seen, such as Durak's transport in the future-Moneta Point assault with Dryad and Ytoo.
  • Downer Ending: Both the normal and Golden Ending. The Enkies end up dead, Lynthe Ytoo spends the rest of his life in jail, Myryan Magusa dies of cancer, Argus kills his own father and decides to rebel against the empire by traveling back in time, piloting the Cobalt King and refusing to deliver the nuke.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The story mode has a casual setting for beginners, and provides lots of time boosts for casual players. Advanced players can change the story to Challenging Mode, and finally, Arcade Mode exclusively has two difficulties, Hard and Insane.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Pretty much the whole playable cast.
  • Energy Weapon: Of both the Slow Laser and instant beam kind — though the latter tend to be full-on Wave-Motion Gun affairs.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Naturally. Seol is a very dangerous planet due to tectonic instability, but that's even before you take the wildlife into account. Some of which is, in fact, mechanical. Whether they're leftovers from past civilizations or somehow 'natural' is never explained.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The Empire's policy on family is that "monogomy creates jealousy and sexual frustration", that people need to have lots of children, and that elders must commit suicide to "make room" for the next generation, who are inherently superior.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Durak.
  • Fairytale Motifs: The spider boss is called Tsuchigumo, a mythical spider that spreads plagues.
  • Floating Continent: The floating cities of Mirage Mountain (the doomed Enkie capital) and Tira (the Imperial capital). Due to Tira's underside looking like a rusted version of the Enkie city's, they might even be the same city. The encyclopedia reveals that all major cities are like this due to tectonic instability.
  • Flower Motifs: A rose is the Sine Mora emblem, painted on the Enkie rebels planes.
  • Free-Love Future: The Empire are extreme polygamists and The Enkies are monogomists. The empire has as many children as they can and kill their elderly while the Enkies have traditional relationships of monogamous civilizations. The Empire calls this heresy.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The playable cast contains three males (Argus, Ronotra, Lynthe) and three females (Myryan, Akyta, Durak). There's also Garai, but it's technically genderless.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Played with. Despite being an Empire, it's mentioned that the Imperialists use "democracy" as an excuse for their actions, implying that there is some kind of constitutional government. However, they seem to place the collective goals over the rights of the individual.
  • Gratuitous German: Libelle is german for "dragonfly".
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Tsuchigumo, for starters.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The game's title ("Without Delay") and all the trophies and achievements are in Latin.
  • Gratuitous Russian: Pops up for a couple of boss names too.
  • Handicapped Badass: Koss and Myryan. Myran speaks through a voice box due to throat cancer, and although you won't know it until you look at him on the character select screen, Koss has no legs.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: The player planes have only a small collision circle within the main chassis.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Koss was so focused on revenge that he might have lived if he went back in time alongside Myryan and Girai to save his son. Instead, he chases the man he believes shot Argus through the street of the Imperial Capital Tira, and then discovers the man he was chasing was his own son, who took the place of the man who reports say shot him, and is shot down as Argus defends the capital from his own father, as he was waiting there to catch the man who was killing the Cobalt King crew one by one.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: The Collaborationists are Enkies against the Sine Mora beliefs. Nationalized by The Empire, they use their time control abilities against the Enkies, helping the Empire fight them and round up Enkie slaves for The Project. Koss, Argus, Myryan, and Lynthe all got their start as Collaborationists.
  • Interspecies Romance: Koss is a bison and his son Argus is a wolverine, then there's Akyta and Lynthe, so it's likely this is accepted in the Sine Mora universe.
  • It's All About Me: Durak.
    • The Empire itself might count as well.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Argus had his name publicized as the traitorous pilot of the Cobalt King that wouldn't drop a nuke on the Enkies to make his job in intelligence easier. This starts his father's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Last of His Kind: Akyta is the last lower-class Enkie, and Durak is the last of the upper class. Myryan is also Enkie, secretly and successfully nationalized by the Empire without knowing her true abilities.
  • Living Macguffin: The Enkies.
  • Love at First Sight: Lynthe Ytoo thoroughly discusses it in the Alternative text, referring to Akyta.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Argus Pytel's Seeker Missile subweapon. A couple of bosses also use conventional missile barrages as part of their attacks.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The Enkies are all wiped out to extinction in an instant by Akyta/Argus, and time control is lost forever.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Koss has no problems blackmailing Myryan Magusa into serving him.
  • Mature Animal Story: One of the darkest Shoot 'em Ups ever made, where the characters are all animals.
  • Mercy Kill: The final objective of the resistance. They know full well the Enkies are comatose and doomed. Combined with the fact that their calendar predicts the exact moment they will go extinct, they set out to put them out of their misery and deprive the Empire of their power.
  • More Dakka: Primary weapon upgrades mean more bullets and an increased rate of fire.
  • My God, What Have I Done?
    • Argus Pytel killing his own father.
    • Akyta fights the last boss, the control system enslaving her fellow Enkies, all comatose. By destroying it, their life support is cut off. Note that this was her ''objective'', but she is no less heartbroken. In the Golden Ending, Argus decides to bear that responsibility.
  • No Antagonist: The Empire is pretty much the main villain, but they practically rule the planet already. Several of the playable characters acknowledge that they are on one side, and perspective, of their conflict. Koss and Myryan are on nobody's side but their own. The Resistance is more directly toward fighting the Empire, but to save the Enkies, rather than harm the Empire.
  • One-Hit Kill: Due to the time mechanics, few things can actually instantly kill you. Getting caught on terrain and hitting the far left of the screen is one way to instantly lose. Being vaporized by jets of fire in the raw material intake is another.
  • One-Man Army: Justified by the time-alteration mechanics, explained in the in-game encyclopedia. It is essentially force-multiplication by reflection and refraction of time and entities, allowing for a single unit to effectively attack from multiple directions at once by coordinating with itself. Try not to think about that too much. When two armies using temporal manipulation go head to head, things get really confusing.
  • Only One Name: Durak, because she is an upper-class Enkie, who only has one name.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: With Koss and Durak's deaths, Lynthe's arrest and trial, and Akita seemingly disappearing, the Empire managed to some extent to defeat the rebel organizations operating against them. However, it came to the cost of losing its most powerful weapon, severely hampering its capacity of not only administering its territory but also changing time itself as well. According to Argus, the Empire will have to rely more on Colaborationists like him from now on, weakening their position.
  • Poison Mushroom: There is one fake item that is dark blue with "???" on it. Touching it causes a Piano Drop, killing you. Doing this at least once is a requirement for the final promotion achievement.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Project imprisons and enslaves the last of the Enkies exclusively for creating a Time Control center. This center is used both as a weapon and for predicting tectonic shifts on the planet's volatile surface.
  • Pretentious Latin Achievements:
    • Nascentes Morimur: From the moment we are born, we begin to die.
    • Lex Talionis: An eye for an eye.
    • Tempus Neminem Manet: Time waits for no one.
    • Salva Veritate: Saving the truth.
    • Inter Caecos Regnat Strabo: Among the blinds the squinting rules.
    • Melius Frangi Quam Flecti: It is better to break than to bend.
    • Suaviter In Modo: Gentle In Manner.
    • Fortiter Fideliter Feliciter: Boldly, Faithfully, Successfully.
    • Dies Irae: Day of Wrath.
    • Stercus Accidit: Shit Happens.
    • Sine Mora: Without Delay.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Book of Days to Come predicts the exact hour the Enkies will go extinct. It turns out they are already brain-dead and Argus and Akyta must cut off their life support as a Mercy Kill.
  • Rank Inflation: S++, S+, S, A, B, C, D, E.
  • Rape as Backstory: Myryan Magusa.
  • Reactor Boss: The Final Boss. Destroying it kills off the Enkies in stasis.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Argus Pytel.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Pretty much everything Koss does is exclusive to his own desire for revenge. Even as he sends Myryan and Girai back in time to save his son, he stays behind just to kill the final member of the Cobalt King crew.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Empire are the Dirty Communists, and the Enkies are The Fundamentalists.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Domus' title, which is just 'Fucked Up Boss' backwards.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Of all people, it's Argus Pytel, not Koss, who does this.
    • The 'Rewind Time' capsule also allows you to 'undo' the last few seconds of gameplay; the longer you hold it down, the further back you go.
  • Shoot 'Em Up
  • Shout-Out: A couple of obscure literary ones stand out; Angrenost is the elven name for the city of Isengard in The Lord of the Rings. There's also the defense rig Melkor; Melkor is the original name of Morgoth Bauglir, who is the protagonist of The Silmarillion.
    • Steropes' entrance is very similar to that of the the first stage Mini-Boss of Contra: Hard Corps, another cyclops Humongous Mecha. It appears in the background, walks a bit, sweeps the ground with its Eye Beams, causing a trail of explosions, and then it jumps into the foreground to fight the player. Similarly, it can also use its arms to throw objects at the player.
    • The Sonic Sword Subweapon is pretty much the Radiant Sword from Radiant Silvergun .
    • The fact that enemy attacks are coloured in both red and blue is very likely to be a shout-out to Ikaruga. Also, the final phase of the Final Boss, Ophan, involves the player having to evade the attacks without being able to damage it, in a very similar way as the battle against the final boss of Ikaruga, the Stone Like.
  • Smart Bomb: Koss' subweapon, Punk Spirit. Many of the other subweapons will also destroy any bullets in their path.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Argus and Lynthe are portrayed as smoking in their full portraits.
  • Spider Tank: Tsuchigumo, in the Imperial AiBorg Factory.
  • Stable Time Loop: Maybe, or at least a semi-stable loop depending on the events of the next cycle. In the Golden Ending, Argus Pytel sends Akyta into the distant past, pregnant with the child who would become the first of the Enkie race. The Enkies in the present are still wiped out; Argus finishes off the Core, then travels back in time to take the place of the pilot of the Cobalt King. Though all we see is Argus as the pilot of the Cobalt King, it is never stated whether the bomb is dropped or not. Presumably, he does refuse to drop the bomb, in which case his co-pilot shoots him.
  • Start of Darkness: Koss losing his son. Later, Argus killing his father.
  • The Fatalist: Every single Enkie. Argus becomes one in the end.
  • The Ghost: Nessa, the Second Sovereign, ruler of the Empire, that can also count as The Unfought. While tecnically can be considered as some kind of antagonist, it is highly implied by Argus on the Alternate Narration that the Enkie genocide was orchestrated by the Empire's upper class instead of just one individual.
    • Also the prophet Enky, founder of the Enkie Nation
  • Theme Naming: Two of the bombers were named; Cobalt King and Lord Granite. It's probably safe to assume the other two had similar names.
  • Time Master: The Enkies. The name 'Sine Mora' is also the name of a school established in-universe to teach them to become Time Masters, in fact.
  • Time Travel: The Enkies can travel through time on a whim, making them very elusive targets for The Empire.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Title Drop: Sine Mora = "Without Delay." It is the name of the Enkie time travel school, and the final line in the story.
    Argus Pytel: I had to give his death meaning, and without delay.
  • Tsuchigumo and Jorogumo: Tsuchigumo is a huge robot spider that fires out web-like Bullet Hell patterns.
  • Villain Protagonist: Koss.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Lynthe Ytoo's special ability, Zebaoth Driller. There's also some kind of screen-filling Kill Sat-esque Wave-Motion Gun that fires during the fight with the modified observatory (nevermind the Frickin' Laser Beams Cannons the observatory has!) that leaves a small strip of free space on the far sides of the screen, causes a Chunky Updraft, and blocks your shots. Giant Orbital Laser From Nowhere!
    • B630214 also has one on top, used by a giant mirror that absorbs the sun's rays and fires it out as a beam.
  • Wrench Wench: Myryan Magusa.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: See Your Days Are Numbered.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Quite literally, the Enkies live knowing the exact day they will die, with the first Enkie predicting the exact moment their race goes extinct, down to the day and hour. A kind of bible called The Book of Days to Come keeps the moment each Enkie dies, in writing. It turns out the real reason they know when they will go extinct is that Akyta Dryad was there. It's also the reason of why the book doesn't mention the deaths of Lynthe and Akita.