PAX 2011: We Just Played Black Knight Sword and Sine Mora

We go hands-on with a Grasshopper Manufacture double feature at this year's Penny Arcade Expo.

Sine Mora

Time is of the essence in Sine Mora, a side-scrolling, shoot-'em-up from developer Grasshopper Manufacture (Shadows of the Damned). Life and death were determined by a timer that ticked down as we played. We gained additional time for defeating enemies and lost time for taking damage. And because our health was tied to the clock, this meant that our ship's special weapons, including screen-clearing lasers and missile barrages, doubled as healing items by refilling our timer for every enemy destroyed.

Some bullets are blue, some are red, what does it mean?

We could also slow down the action with another special ability--we'll call it bullet time--to help dodge projectiles from enemies. While Sine Mora didn't ebb too heavily on the bullet-hell design, its representatives did promise plenty of difficulty settings to ramp up the insanity. The gameworld sported a crisp, cartoonish style that, while beautiful, made it difficult at times to distinguish what was an enemy and what was in the background. And while we couldn't hear it over all the noise at PAX, composer Akira Yamaoka will be scoring the soundtrack.

A release date for Sine Mora hasn't been set, but you can learn more from our PAX demo. The game will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, the PlayStation Vita, and Steam.

Black Knight Sword

Black Knight Sword, a 2D hack-and-slash game also from Grasshopper, opens with its protagonist hanging from a noose. We gave him a little tug and he tumbled onto the stage of life, which was framed by a red curtain and accompanied by the murmurings of an unseen audience. After meeting a bug-eyed fairy and being transformed into the titular black knight, our hero ventured into a bizarre fairytale that only Suda51 could tell.

Yamaoka will also be composing the music for Black Knight Sword.

The game is an interactive kamishibai, or "paper drama," that plays out from the audience's point of view. Its unsettling, hand-drawn art style projects a distinct Eastern European influence that juxtaposes calm, cobblestone streets with hostile, disembodied heads supported by two arms. As we cut our way through, the background elements were torn down and rebuilt behind us similar to a stage production (or a demonic pop-up book).

Defeated enemies, as well as microwave oven item boxes, dropped human hearts for us to collect. These could be spent to upgrade our character's abilities and give us an edge in battle. And, we needed all the help we could get against the bloated, yellow knight we faced at the end of our demo stage. Despite his awkward lumbering, the oaf still bested us more times than we'd care to admit. While the release date is pending, Black Knight Sword will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.

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can't wait for both. i think black knight is further off, though. i hope the background/enemy problem isn't that bad, cuz that could be a gamebreaker in this type of game.


These two games look pretty great!