Developer: Digital Reality, Grasshopper Manufacture
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: March 21, 2012
Gradius-style shoot 'em ups have long been vacant from store shelves, digital or otherwise, but that didn't stop Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture from making one of the best the genre's ever seen. Updating the classic concepts with a fresh and eye-catching visual aesthetic, the game plays very much like its ancestors but looks so pretty that it draws you into the world immediately - something SHMUP games have never been good at.
As if that weren't enough, the time-bending mechanic introduced in Sine Mora is so forehead-slappingly obvious that you'll wonder why more games haven't tried something similar. The ability to slow down the speed of the game to carefully maneuver between enemy projectiles simultaneously allowed the developers to create some incredible bullet-hell patterns while giving players the means to survive them.
It's the boss battles that truly make the game though, with some fantastic art direction and gameplay design, each one is memorable and unique. From the giant squid-like mechanical nightmare to the train full of cannons, each one is fun and satisfying to defeat. Sine Mora is one of the most over-looked indie games of the year, but for those who play it, it's definitely not underappreciated.