Unique fusion of a top down shooter and tower defense strategy. You are the X-Morph – an alien species that invades Earth to harvest its resources and terraform the surface. Strategize in the build mode by carefully selecting various types of alien towers or throw yourself right into heat of the battle. Build mazes for incoming enemies in an environment that provides exceptional planning freedom. Tear down buildings and collapse bridges to support your defense or to simply indulge in a spectacle of unprecedented destruction. Possess a range of unique alien weapons and use defense strategies like you’ve never seen before in this genre.
X-Morph Defense is a top down shooter game which has been developed by EXOR Studios, an independent game company from Poland built around a team of modders in 2002 who worked on full game mods for Half-Life 1 & 2.
So, what to expect from X-Morph: Defense? Well, when I started on the game, I was instantly transported back to the days of playing Desert Strike and Jungle Strike, although the graphics are far improved since the days of my trusty Amiga 500+. You take on the role of an invading alien force (the X-Morph) and have to protect the X-Morph harvesters from attack by the armies of the Earth. The attacks come in waves and before each one, you have time to prepare your defences. There is no time limit in place to set up the defences and you receive full details of what is about to attack. You take the control of a space ship, flying around and shooting at the advancing forces. Alongside of that, as you progress within the story mode of the game, you also get to learn how to use various Tower Defences and build walls to hinder the enemy progression.
The X-Morphs goal is to take over the world, and you do this by fighting over various countries which all boast very different backdrops to them; each looking as pleasing to the eye as the next.
Flying the X-Morph fighter is a lot of fun and easy to master. The movement on the PS4 is controlled by the left joystick and you point to fire with the right. Simple, but effective. There are other options in place within the controller set-up, but the controls are very easy to use which adds to the enjoyment of the game.
As for the shooter part of the game…
As the X-Morph fighter you can engage enemy units directly with a diverse arsenal of weapons. There are four distinct forms which specialize in dealing with different kinds of threats. Each form has a basic attack and a special charged attack mode. The Plasma Fighter is the most universal one – good at destroying both air and ground units. The Dark Matter Bomber is great at decimating groups of ground units. It can slow down time and release a dark matter bomb that can cut down buildings. The Shredder fighter is perfect for annihilating large numbers of human air units. Finally the Laser Destroyer is best for smelting large single units.
The environment is fully destructible within the game. The developers could have quite easily made a lovely back drop to the game and left it there, but as you progress through the game, that environment starts to come into play by destroying it to block direct paths of attack, a feature I loved.
With every wave, there is a final boss; a huge, building size, mechanical war machine which the humans had designed to fight each other, but are now using in defence of the earth. Each boss fight is unique and heavily influences the gameplay environment. Entire cities will be destroyed in the persuit of defence.
The game also boasts a co-op slit screen mode where you can team up with a second controller player to take over the world. For me, EXOR Studios missed out on a major improvement to the game here. This part of it should be online. I do see what they have tried to do with the co-op option, but I would prefer to team up with an online player to run through this.
All missions have different gameplay scenarios designed specifically for co-op play. Enemies attack in larger numbers and from new directions making good cooperation essential to winning. In this mode the game can be played in many different ways, one player can focus on optimizing tower placement while the other shoots at enemies, or they can both focus their firepower on the strongest attackers.
I haven’t really got into this side of the game as I’m boring and don’t have anyone that will team up with me, which again brings my issue of it not being an online game, but I like the way they have made this mode more challenging than the story mode.
My overall impression of the game is extremely good. For a group of modders, EXOR have taken their skills and applied them to game creation extremely well. The game plays very fluently with so much happening on the screen at once.
X-Morph: Defense brings together the best elements from tower defense games and dual-stick shooters. It can occasionally be frustrating with repeative gameplay, the shoot-em-up action is fast and fun. There are issues which could be addressed, but still a hell of a lot to like about the game. If you enjoy these type of games, add it to your collection, you will enjoy it.
My overall rating is a solid 7/10. Give me an online option and that rating will go up to an 8, possibly 9. Perhaps this is something that can be added at a later date.
X-Morph Defense is available now on PS4, Xbox One & Steam priced at a very reasonable £15.99
Game code kindly supplied by EXOR Games for review purposes