If Plants Vs. Zombies had a love child with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and that baby was then raised by Enter the Gungeon, you would have X-Morph: Defense. A hybrid Tower Defense/ Shoot â€˜em Up, EXOR studios did an amazing job blending the two genres through interesting mechanics that play off of each other seamlessly.
You play as the gameâ€™s namesake; an invading alien race dubbed X-Morphs due to their ability to make their aircraft and weaponry shapeshift into different forms depending on the situation. You deploy defense towers that can morph their weapon to suit your needs, such as changing from a long-range missile defense system that specializes in combating air crafts, into a short-range flamethrower that excels in mowing down hordes of small enemies. Or you could change it into a laser that gradually does more damage the longer itâ€™s locked onto an enemy, that is particularly good at taking down heavily armored tanks. You can also build laser barriers between the defense towers to block off the enemyâ€™s path to your core in order to make it longer, providing more time to do damage to the enemy vehicles. Building towers and upgrading their weapons costs materials that you collect by destroying enemy ships, however, building barriers between towers costs nothing. Managing your resources to create the longest paths that are sufficiently equipped to deal with different enemy types is essential to making sure that your core isnâ€™t damaged.
You also control a gunship to aid your towers in defending your core. You will be attacked by different fighter jets, attack helicopters, as well as giant mechs that act as bosses. Just like your defense towers, your gunship can change its weapons to deal with different enemy types. You also have power attacks at your disposal, such as a high damage nuke with a long cooldown that will put a nice dent in even the beefiest of health bars. You can also use it to knock down buildings to do massive amounts of environmental damage to enemies, as well as block off routes to your core.
The most annoying part of X-Morph is that failure carries a harsh penalty. Youâ€™ll be forced to sit through an irritatingly long loading screen to start the wave over. On some of the harder levels, this can get particularly aggravating. So much so that youâ€™ll want to lower the difficulty so youâ€™ll have an easier time beating the level, and wonâ€™t have to sit through another minute and a half long loading screen with the same five or so tips.
The storyline of X-Morph is best described as basic, yet effective. Itâ€™s very simple but it gets the job done. You play as an Invading alien force hell-bent on taking over the earth piece by piece, and the human race wants to stop you. Itâ€™s nothing to write home about, but a game like this is about the fun and addictive gameplay, not delivering a masterpiece of a story.
Another feature of the game that is fine, albeit a bit generic, is the sound design. The enemy commander sounds just like every â€œimportant soldier-manâ€ in pretty much every alien invasion game or movie you can think of. Thatâ€™s not to say itâ€™s bad voice acting, itâ€™s just perfectly fine. It doesnâ€™t take you out of the game, and it gets the point across. The music is also done fairly well, with a few great examples thrown in there. The menu and boss themes are particularly well done.
Overall, X-Morph: Defenders is a superbly done game with no glaring weaknesses. It morphs two genres with long and storied histories into one fantastic package that should be played by anyone and everyone who can get their hands on it. Once developer EXOR studios patches out the long load times the game will be damn near perfect. Itâ€™s a unique concept that was executed flawlessly. Whether a fan of tower defense games, or twin-stick shooters, or just like causing massive amounts of destruction, you will relish your time with X:Morph: Defense.
The Gameplay: EXOR Studios did an immaculate job blending the TDF and SHMUP genres. Both facets of the gameplay felt fleshed out and perfectly executed.
The Physics: Toppling a Skyscraper onto your enemies provides a deeply sadistic satisfaction that adds a layer of depth to the game.
The Loading Times: The only complaint about X: Morph that wouldnâ€™t sound like nit-picking. Long loading times are this gameâ€™s biggest weakness. Fortunately, with some optimization, this can be patched out.
X-Morph: Defense is a near-perfect amalgamation of arcade twin-stick shooters, and tower defense games.