REVIEW – X-Morph Defense

X-Morph: Defense is a tower-defense strategy game developed by EXOR Studios for the Nintendo Switch. Is this a title worth harvesting for your digital collection or should it be sent to the trash compactor? Let’s start the harvesting process and find out!

The story follows the X-Morph alien race as they locate a new planet with geothermal energy, Earth. When the X-Morph harvester lands, the humans are perplexed. What is this alien object? As the harvester is turned on, the local army and police force begin to enclose the harvester core. Just then, the X-Morph fighter spawns out of it, opening fire among the tanks, cars, and planes.

This is where the game begins. You control the X-Morph defender with the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller, using the left thumb stick to move the aircraft around the map and the right thumb stick to shoot rapid projectiles at enemy targets. Your job is to make sure that the earthlings do not destroy the core before all waves are complete. After each wave, the player is given time to strategize on the next plan of action to ensure the harvester can complete the process successfully.

In order to make sure the mission is a success, you will need to utilize ‘ghost mode,’ a builder aspect of the X-Morph fighter, to build alien towers to help with the destruction of the human’s futile attempt of defending their planet. Enemy units will follow a set path that can be seen ahead of time thanks to X-Morph’s superior technology. With this knowledge, it’s best to build towers around street corners and pathways to delay the earthling’s army. Another great strategy I discovered is to combine two towers together into an energy barrier, which can make a great gap in the enemy’s plan of traversal. As you continue conquering more sectors of the Earth, you will need to utilize different tower types in order to make your world-harvesting mission a success.

Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of strategy or tower-defense games. My history with the genre has been a big miss, including many of the biggest and well-known franchises. The only caveat has been Plants vs. Zombies. X-Morph: Defense was a pleasant surprise, though, as I was expecting the game to be a turn-based tower-defense. What I experienced, however, was more action-oriented than other games in the same genre. Controlling the X-Morph fighter reminds me a lot of top-down shooters like Galaga, Alien Breed, and Geometry Wars.

This combination of genres makes it much easier for someone not akin to playing strategy games. I was able to slowly understand the best methods and strategies of defending the core while also enjoying a more familiar arcade style of play. This surprised me so much, and it kept me interested as the challenges continued to ramp up with each new wave of increasingly difficult enemies.

The presentation of X-Morph: Defense looks great, showcasing different locations around the world. The environments of each map are clean and detailed, showcasing details that make every area unique. I really enjoyed the music, which has a nice techno, sci-fi aspect to it as the action begins ramping up. The voice work could be better. While the main alien head is decent, the voices for the humans are well-spoken but quite generic. It is certainly nothing groundbreaking, but the presentation kept me engaged with the map while I was both preparing my strategies and fighting to protect the core.

Only two modes are accessible in the main game: story mode and survival mode. Story mode will introduce the concept of the game and how the mechanics work. This mode also offers four difficulty settings for players familiar with a variety of experience and expertise. It was nice to see some thought went into the game for someone like me, who doesn’t normally enjoy tower-defense. Survival mode is a fun diversion where you try to last as long as possible as waves increase in difficulty. If you want more, though, you can purchase and download one of three DLC packs.

Overall, X-Morph: Defense is a welcome surprise to the tower-defense genre. Not only does it succeed as a great introduction to those new to the genre, it marries two different concepts to create a unique experience that any top-down shooter fan or tower-defense fanatic could enjoy. If you are a fan of either genre, I recommend you give this one a try.

GAME: X-Morph: Defense
ESRB: T for Teen
MSRP: $19.99 US (base game), $4.99 US (DLC), $29.99 US (complete edition)
OBTAINED: Code provided by developer/publisher for review purposes