X-Morph: Defense Review
Most of the time in gaming, we play as the human forces, striving tirelessly to repel alien threats. X-Morph: Defense flips that script, then blows it up with superior weapons technology. You’re here to harvest Earth for its valuable resources, indigenous species be damned. They’re nothing more than an annoyance; an irritant fit only to be eliminated.
X-Morph: Defense is a hybrid of twin-stick shooter and tower defence. Each level sees you protecting a harvester from waves of ground and air forces, and sometimes some huge bosses too. Unlike most tower defence games where you construct your towers then watch the wave roll in, you also control an airship capable of decimating the humans, though neither the towers nor the ship are able to eliminate the waves alone. Only by combining both can you hope to succeed, though controlling the ship allows you to be much more proactive in your extermination of humanity.
Also unlike most tower defense games, X-Morph gives players more agency to control how enemies reach the harvester. Tower can be linked together by laser fences, which can be used to block certain paths and funnel the enemy into choke points. You can also destroy large building and structures, leaving the debris to naturally block the path.
Once more units start being introduced, such as bombers and jumpers, which negate your laser fences, better strategies must be implemented. Here, tower placement and selection are paramount. Air units need anti-air towers, bigger enemies need laser towers and so on. Just sticking basic towers down and hoping that’ll be enough won’t cut it.
It can feel like a lot to take in, and it is. You’ll find yourself spending more time in between waves micro-managing your resources than actually fighting. Moving and placing new defenses to cope with the changing strategies of the opponent is the key to victory. X-Morph is a game that rewards patience over a more headstrong approach.Despite being a fusion of two genres, it feels like the X-Morph ship itself is the weakest element when it comes to eliminating enemies. Anti-air towers do a much better job dominating the sky than you do, and whilst bombing ground units wreaks massive devastation, your ship is simply too fragile to provide any sustainable damage.
It’s also worth noting that on the normal and hard difficulties, X-Morph is only really enjoyable to fans of both the tower defense and twin-stick genres. Unit health and sheer numbers really push your abilities to the limit, and if the idea of placing towers and shooting down hostiles simultaneously makes you break out in hives, X-Morph: Defense probably isn’t the game for you.
In the end, X-Morph: Defense is a competent blend of shooter and tower defense, with enough unique elements and strategies to please fans of both. Its difficulty curve might be a barrier to some players, but the gameplay here is just as satisfying and rewarding as the best game in either genre.
X-Morph: Defense is available to download from the Xbox Store, priced at £15.99.
Credit goes to Ashley Bates for reviewing this title.
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