X-Morph: Defense is a tower defense twin stick shooter that places the player on the side of the would-be antagonist instead of the potential heroes. You play as an alien consciousness tasked with establishing and protecting an invading force to the planet earth. As you’d expect, the dominant species on the planet are not too happy with your invasion plans and thus they attempt to foil your plans. You’re able to play the campaign and a survival mode on the Switch using either the joy-cons or controller pro. Between the two options the pro controller is the better option if you have one, if not the joy-cons on the grip will suffice.
Not Just any tower defense
This being a partial tower defense game means that you are responsible for building and maintaining structures to deter the impending waves of human retaliation. These waves come in the form of tanks, infantry, helicopters, bombers and other more sci-fi inspired units. Before each wave the player is able to see the path of the incoming enemy units, and use structures to both prolong and destroy them. To do this you’re given a set amount of resources. This limits what can be built, and thus enhances the strategy elements of the game. As enemy units are destroyed more resources will be earned to build more or enhance existing structures.
Each type of unit has its own weaknesses and strengths. Some may even change from wave to wave so it’s import to keep track of what’s on each path before each wave. Moving structures is also possible during and before waves via a ghost feature that your little alien fighter has. The fighter uses very solid twin stick shooting mechanics, but it’s primary purpose is building structures and gathering resources. This isn’t as apparent in the early stages, but by the midsection you’ll be completing missions without even firing a shot.
Summon your inner bullet shooter
Speaking of firing shots, the fighter is a capable twin stick shooting machine that has 4 different types of weapons. These unlock as you play and they consist of anti-air missiles, plasma shots, bombs, and lasers. These different firing types each have alternative options like a singularity and defensive shields. As you unlock these abilities you’ll be able to purchase them using two types of in game currency to upgrade not just your fighter, but also you structures. This makes for a really engaging skill system that serves as the primary driving force behind playing since repeating stages don’t have any benefits outside of honing your skills.
Thanks for the second try
Checkpoints are well place between waves to give players a much needed break if they need it or to allow for quick restarts if you mess up during a wave. Similar to titles like Super Meat Boy, it rewards players for trial and error by putting them back into the action as quickly as possible. As you improve your skills you’ll be dodging, shooting, switching weapons, building and moving towers in the blink of an eye. Playing like this relies on those checkpoints to get you back into the action as quickly as possible. The game does have some lengthy loading, however given that I played the Switch version It was to be expected. Other version may have less loading that and better visuals. Not that the switch version is a slouch.
Performance is everything
The game has an isometric view, and uses it’s perspective to its advantage. The amount of detail in each stage admirable from a technical point of view. Remember this is the Switch, a handheld home console hybrid running on a mobile chip-set, and the game uses every ounce of it while holding a silky smooth frame-rate. During waves there are lots of explosions and particle effects, but it all holds up well. There wasn’t any distinguishable difference between tablet and docked play, both looked great. The limitation notice was the lack of multiplayer found in other versions of the game. Possibly due to hardware limitations.
I think I’ve found my first Game of The Year Nominee for 2019, and it’s X-Morph: Defense. The feeling of conquering the human race from continent to continent is exhilarating fun thanks to some solid game mechanics, challenging missions, bosses and pacing. At $20 it’s difficult to not recommend this game. It’s well worth its price and I’d actually recommend shelling out the extra $10 upfront to get the complete version that comes with all the DLC. X-Morph Defense is a great game that rewards both tactical and impulse skill in a very gratifying way. If everything thing I’ve said so far about the game has your interest then get and thank me later.
The copy of X-Morph: Defense used for this review was provided by it’s publisher EXOR Studios.