When you think of strategy games many people think of the traditional Command & Conquer style of games while the tower defense genre is usually passed up. The tower defense style games have always been a favorite of mine but with all the advancements in gaming, there have also been advancements in the genres themselves as well. X-Morph: Defense gives you the classic tower defense style but also adds in the ability to have a playable character that can be used to construct towers or attack the oncoming waves of enemies.
X-Morph starts out with alien forces from another universe, who are heading towards the earth in order to take its precious resources. The way the alien force does this is through their main harvester core where they gather the resources and supply power to the defense towers. You command a sort of fighter alien jet that has two modes. The first is an offensive attack mode where you have various weapons for ground forces or airborne fighters. The other is a construction mode for building towers and other defensive items. You can build several towers depending on the amount of power you have gained from your harvester core. From tower to tower you can build laser walls used to divert the humans or enemy units off of their main attack paths (which is usually the straightest path). You gain an advantage by diverting the enemy the longest, enabling you and your towers to attack. The towers can be upgraded using the same power unit system. The upgrades allow the towers to have more effective attacks against specific enemies. You can also upgrade your fighter jet in the same way.
The gameplay for X-Morph is very smooth and well balanced. The enemies attack in waves, similar to most tower defense games. You can choose to speed up the waves to gain extra points. While in between the waves you have the chance to build up your defenses. You have to protect the harvester core from the humans because if they destroy it, you can no longer gain the resources. You travel around the1 earth to all the major cities in order to capture as many resources as possible. Most levels have about 4 to 8 waves with some high-end enemies or boss-style enemies. The construction mode of the fighter is easy to use and a grid pops up to show you where exactly you can place towers or fences. The game gives you blue and red visual cues to let you know whether it is possible to place a defensive fortification or not. The enemy path is also highlighted in yellow when in construction mode to show you what path the enemy is taking so you can plan your defenses based on those or just do your own thang. As you progress through the campaign you earn more unlockable upgrades for your fighter and towers. Some of the upgrades include powers for your harvester core, like a plasma blast that triggers when too many enemies are surrounding it.
Overall, X-Morph is a very simple game but very complex in the same style. The simplicity of tower defense but made complex by the attacking constructing fighter unit. The upgrading system can be confusing at first but it follows a simple tree system and lays out which upgrades are good against specific enemies. Graphically, X-Morph isn’t anything crazy that requires a 4k T.V. or anything like that, but they’re nice for a strategy style game like this. The controls feel very streamlined and it’s easy to switch between the two modes, while selecting your fighter’s different weapons is a breeze. The dual stick shooting style makes it enjoyable to fly around avoiding enemy fire while shooting back. The campaign has 14 separate missions that include various objectives and side objectives. There is a co-op campaign mode but I didn’t get a chance to run through it for this review. X-Morph: Defense is a very solid dual-stick tower defense game and very much worth the price tag for any fan of the strategy genre.
NINTENDO SWITCH NOTES:
Prior to downloading X-Morph Defenses port on Switch, the last Tower-Defense style game I probably played was Toy Soldiers War Chest, which ironically both Lee and I reviewed here. I am not typically a fan of the genre, but I do like the Hybrids like X-Morph and Toy Soldiers that let you do more than just watch how your strategies play out, and this game does just that. I won't rehash what Lee already covered, but I will say, the scale and gameplay works really well in handheld mode. It rocks. I have not went through the whole campaign yet, but even in my time with it I saw some intense moments play out, and not once did I notice any performance issues. While some of the menus can be hard to navigate, thankfully you can take your time in between waves and refocus your defenses. Meanwhile, during waves, you have to spend your time being on the attack, and with a variety of weapons at your disposal, things can get interesting. I loved that you could demolish buildings to block paths and make the "enemy" reroute their path. I also put "enemy" in quotations, because I also love that you get to play as the villain, which does not happen too often. For $20, you get the base game which offers a decent amount of play, while forking up an additional $10 gets you $15 worth of DLC in what is called the "complete edition". Fans of the genre can find a lot to dig in here, and outside of having to re-map a few buttons and get used to some menus, this game is incredibly fun and works well as an on the go title. Lee's base score of 8/10 holds strong here. -Edwin
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review.
Final Score: 8/10
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