X-Morph: Defense – review

  • Format: PC (version reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: EXOR Studios
  • Developer: EXOR Studios
  • Players: 1-2
  • Site: http://www.xmorphdefense.com/
  • Game code provided by PR

X-Morph: Defense reminds us of a few other games. It’s a little like Anomaly: Warzone Earth (or at least the one where you’re the bad guys) and a little like Renegade Ops, too. Both of which are stellar games – as is this one. Anomaly and X-Morph are both tower defence games where you also control a commanding unit, and they both allow you to do a little fighting as that character – though it’s a much more prominent feature here. 

You are part of an alien invasion of Earth, where you get to send your consciousness into ships all around the globe as you protect harvesters that are terraforming the planet at the same time as sucking it dry of resources. You won’t see many civilians but you will see many, many military vehicles and troops trying to take you down. Luckily, they’re not too fond of hiking or going off-road, and they funnel themselves into set paths which you can line with turrets.

Turrets are important because although your consciousness can be sent all about the place, it can only be in one place at a time, which in this case is an alien fighter jet thingy. It flies and it shoots, but it also takes time to get between enemy lanes; so turrets make good proxies and have a decent amount of firepower to back you up in your invasion. When you first start the game you’re only able to buy one type of turret (the standard plasma) but eventually you’ll be able to turn them into a few different and more powerful specialised upgrades. But you’ll have to make some tough decisions on what you take into a mission until you get enough technology unlocks to take everything.

As lanes are paths that take the shortest route to your base, it’s in your best interests to manipulate these. Terrain destruction is a big part of the game and any man-made structures can usually be destroyed one way or another. Many of the maps contain multistory buildings that could just be levelled, but careful demolition can have you toppling buildings across roads or pathways which force the humans to alter their routes. This is also useful for instantly kills, which is always fun.

You can also link turrets with laser fences, which also block enemies’ routes and give you the most control over directing their paths. You are forced to leave at least one route for each convoy, whether that be a laser fence refusing to power up or destructible terrain turning to rubble. Some units are exempt from this, as they’ll simply jump over your walls or walk straight through them; but they tend to be a little easier to take care of than the heavy tanks and whatnot.

It’s a wave-based game, which means you’re given infinite time between each wave to set up your turrets, giving you more than enough time to adequately set up your death mazes. It’s fun to play around with ways of making new routes, via destroying terrain or making walls that force convoys into the longest possible routes. It’s a good puzzle feature, and makes a good contrast to the lengthy waves of seemingly endless shooting.

Your alien craft has its own arsenal of weaponry which draws from the same pool of upgrade points as the turrets, so for much of the game you’ll have to decide whether you want to get a really cool weapon to fight with or a turret upgrade. It does mean you’ll tailor things level by level, but it also means you’ll appreciate the roles the weapons play a little more; like the laser being brilliant for single high health units, while bombs make a mess of large groups of smaller ones, and homing missiles are pretty much essential for taking down air units. It becomes more difficult when you have to choose between the secondary upgrades like the dark matter bomb and the gravitational singularity, which are both as impressive and fun to use as they sound.

What we liked the most is also unfortunately the most sparingly used element of the game; bosses. When bosses are done well, they’re very fun indeed and they’re pretty darn good here. They represent Humanity’s desperation and they’re tough as nails and usually cruising right for your base. You get to pick them apart with help from your turrets so most of them feel like a few waves unto themselves, representing just how much effort you have to put in to take one down. They’re the highlight of any level that they’re in, and it’s a shame that there’s not more of them.

If there’s any other complaints we have it’s that it’s maybe a little too difficult, which is made slightly frustrating when the map makes it a unclear what’s damaging your towers and where. Very few units can attack your towers, which makes it really annoying when you’re trying to root out the perpetrators while a disembodied voice tells you that your tower is under attack.

It’s a really fun game that splices two genres together very well and puts it in a really nice-looking package. It’s also got a local co-op mode, if invading the Earth sounds too lonely, but it is just a co-op version of the single player campaign. There’s also a level editor where you can make or get more content should you wish, though making it is for those of you that are smarter than us. If you like tower defence games we can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t like this, unless you hate fun.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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