X-Morph: Defense review

What is the concept? Since the 1978 release of Space Invaders, players have persistently protected the Earth from alien attack. But with X-Morph: Defense, the tables are turned, with gamers playing the role of intergalactic infringers, attempting to terraform the planet. This pursuit can be realized through two undertakings. The first involves building a structure of blockades and turrets that can chip away at a continual cavalcade of military hardware. The second offers a more direct approach, as you take to the skies in an alien attack fighter, annihilating any threat that slipped through your defense system.

Fourteen missions are all that stand between you and subjugation of the planet, as you move across a variety of recognizable milieus. Naturally, the earthlings soon put up a quite a fight, and after the fourth stage victory on any of the game’s three skill levels entails a prudent mix of planning, target prioritization, and the precision- as you weave through a barrage of enemy fire. Independently, the two modes in X-Morph: Defense feel familiar, whether you’re deploying turrets in archetypal tower-defense fashion or tackling adversaries with twin stick shooter-styled controls. But by combining genres, developer EXOR Studios (D.I.P.R.I.P. Warm Up, Zombie Driver HD) hope to nurture synergy with the two systems.

What are the game’s strengths? Visually, X-Morph: Defense is inspired, flaunting a distinctive color palette and a gratifying amount of graphical detail. Backdrops are rendered in warmer hues, with overcooked oranges and bronzed grounds mirroring the cinematography’s ‘golden hour’. These tones are contrasted against the cool blues and brilliant pinks emitting my weaponry, permitting players to effortlessly read the situation on the battlefield. Beyond explosions that flaunt particle effects, X-Morph also exhibits the occasional set-pieces, where skyscrapers collapse amidst the chaos. Additionally, the voice acting is surprisingly good with the manipulation of respectable readings enhanced with digital effects.

While the sheer number of subordinate enemies can make stages taxing, it’s the game’s boss battles that are the irrefutable highlights. Here, hulking monstrosities such as an octopedal mech confront players, requiring multi-step strategizes to subdue. Largely, these tests are tough, requiring every unlocked ability in your arsenal as well as impeccable reflexes. Pleasingly, if these elevated challenges ever grow too frustrating, you can bring in the assistance of a local, cooperative partner- who can help tip the balance in your favor.

What are the game’s weaknesses? Although there’s a steady succession of new weaponry to combat the intensifying earthly threat, there’s still a troubling homogeneity to the game’s stages. This issue is exacerbated by the low damage output of your alien hardware. Both defense turrets and your craft have to shoot foes numerous times before they are destroyed, making the extraterrestrial arsenal feel weak. The integration of power-ups and additional risk-reward mechanics could have added so needed nuance to the title.

Like most tower defense games, the earthlings change their patterns across each wave, entering the battleground from new parts of the periphery. As such this requires players to dismantle their current defense structures and rebuild, in an effort to hinder the onslaught now arriving across multiple fronts. Since blockades are created by laying two adjacent towers and connecting the two, this procedure can grow tedious. Ideally, X-Morph: Defense would offer a way to quickly recycle your defenses instead of requiring players to demolish each one.

Is it worth the money? X-Morph: Defense’s merging of tower defense and twin-stick shooter elements certainly has the potential to synthesize into a satisfying experience. While the title doesn’t always meet those ambitions, becoming monotonous over protracted play sessions, there are some incentives, especially for gamers who enjoy strenuous boss battles. Those with a substantial Steam backlog are encouraged to wait for the inevitable price drop.

X-Morph: Defense
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
 EXOR Studios
Publisher: EXOR Studios
Release date: August 30th, 2017 (US)
Price: $19.99 via Steam, PlayStation Store, or Xbox Games Store

Robert Allen :With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.