Saturday, February 23

Review: X-Morph - Defense [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While I’ve had some good times over the years playing tower defense games there’s no denying that the genre has stagnated quite a bit. Rarely have there been any real innovations made aside from perhaps some new tower variant, so most games in the genre have begun feeling by the numbers. X-Morph: Defense is here to show everyone how you give a genre a serious kick in the right, and far more exciting, direction.


Setting up towers and then sitting back to watch how things play out getting stale? No problem, they’ve thrown in your ship not only being able to set up defenses but also having an active role to play with twin-stick shooting action! The progression is generally too limited and predictable? How about making you choose between new and more powerful tower types or souping up your ship to enable you to do more damage yourself? Too often there’s an endless array of enemies you can build up clusters of defenses to deal with in any configuration as you watch it play out dull wave after wave? Get ready to have to adjust both the positioning and configuration of your defenses as new waves will come at you from different points and the paths your enemies take can be altered by toppled skyscrapers or blown bridges. Oh, and did I just see a gigantic mechanized spider coming my way?!?!


Suffice it to say the people behind X-Morph have paid attention to the failings of the tower defense genre and done just about everything in their power to not only address those problems, but do so with a high degree of visual flair as well. The production values and way things play out often feels a bit like an alien invasion / disaster movie, and I like that, especially since you’re playing the part of the invading alien bastards set on taking over the world. The fact that both you or the human defense forces may choose to destroy the landscape to gain advantage at times is something I enjoyed as well,. While their decisions may mostly be static, the fact that blocking off a path early on may work to your advantage but then bite you in the ass later if they make changes of their own feels great.


While the action plays a big role in helping to make the game more interesting make no mistake, the critical component of strategy is very much present. Especially early on if you don’t invest in setting up fences to force enemy units to take a longer route and leave yourself exposed somehow even if you’re throwing everything your ship has at them you’ll get overwhelmed. The consistent need to course correct to try to keep out of the path of enemy bombers or transitioning towers from being focused on dealing with ground units to air and back can also be critical, as can simply moving defenses around as your enemy adapts. Finding the right balance of defenses and then using your ship to help supplement here and there as needed is a thrill, just keep in mind you can’t engage in combat for too long most of the time since that means you’re not out there making adjustments. Of course if you have a friend who can join in this gets a bit easier so props for the co-op option as well.


Overall, I’m really impressed by everything the folks behind this game have put together. The campaign is challenging and at a satisfying length, and if you really want more there’s already additional DLC content available as well. The mix of strategy and action it offers is pretty unique and in general the presentation of the destruction and carnage really helps make it all exciting. You’ll need to make some tough choices at times, and if you get too distracted by the action your defenses can really fall apart, but that all adds to the challenge and fun. If you’ve ever had any affection for tower defense games you owe it to yourself to see this example of the genre being taken to a new and more exciting level.

Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Revitalizes the generally stale tower defense genre
  • Blends tower defense strategy with twin-stick shooting action to create a new kind of experience
  • Challenging play coupled with the excitement of mechs, destructible cities, and things blowing up real good

Cons:
  • The controls and getting tower placements right can be tricky at times
  • To some degree the core play can get repetitive in principle