Developer EXOR Studios has done such a phenomenal job in porting X-Morph: Defense ($19.99 Standard Edition, $29.99 Complete Edition) to the Switch that I hope it’s likely going to be a game that will be studied for quite some time students getting into game making or by other devs who want to port a game they’ve made onto the platform. From visuals to performance, it’s a wonderfully complete experience that easily stacks up to the other versions made for more powerful hardware.
The funny thing is, I initially didn’t want to play this because I pretty much stopped cold playing tower defense-type games thanks to to having played so many for so long I became bored with the relative sameness they shared despite thematic differences. Thankfully, the addition of fast-paced arcade-style twin stick shooting blends well with the real-time base expansion elements and yes, the ability to play not as the humans, but the aliens in the process of vanquishing anything the earthlings toss at them as they attempt to mine the planet for its resources.
Hey, if you’re going to wreck the planet, you may as well do it in style and a continent at a time, right?
In each map, there’s a harvester core that drops down and needs to be protected from a few waves of earth troops ranging from a wide variety or land, air, and sea forces. You control a spacecraft that cab zip around and blast enemies, but you’ll need to also keep the earthers at bay by destroying buildings and collapsing them onto roads, fencing off other routes to funnel foes into easier to handle waves. You’ll need to supplement your ship’s weapon use with assorted tactics and the game will keep you constantly busy between waves as you upgrade and/or repair what you can before a new wave begins. The great thing here is you decide when a new wave spawns, so you’re more or less set for what’s coming. Well, to a point. On the harder modes, this one certainly isn’t a cakewalk, as enemy waves tend to be more aggressive than a nest of hornets being shaken by some kid how doesn’t know better.
The enemy has more than those assorted aircraft, wheeled weapons and other common futuristic gear you’re thinking of. Expect building to city block-sized bosses to go all out as they try to destroy your core and yep, take out too many buildings in the process. Hey, a little (well, a lot of collateral damage is “acceptable” if those aliens are sent packing, right? The other great thing about all this is missions tend to play out differently based on the strategies you employ, so no two games will be exactly the same unless you swipe ideas from the speedier players posting tips online on how to blaze through the missions. Even then, you’ll likely be curious enough to toss some caution to the wind and do things the way you prefer.
Visuals, music and sound design are all excellent here (the voice acting is all around perfect), the main campaign mode is quite lengthy and as noted, the ability to play as you prefer means many will get a load of replay value from this before they even touch the DLC content (an optional purchase unless you wisely nab that Complete Edition that gives you everything at a lower price point over making separate buys later on). Amusingly enough, I actually got a review code for the Standard Edition, but I don’t mind supporting EXOR down the road with a paid DLC purchase because the game is solid enough to make me want more when I’m ready (and yep, have made a bigger dent in the backlog).
Once you complete the first map, Survival Mode is unlocked and allows you to play an endless map where you’ll eventually lose, but half the thrill is seeing how long you can hold out before the inevitable happens. It’s also a fun way to stress yourself out while you try implementing every tactic you can think of from great to terrible, but all that is up to you, of course. Sure, a two-player mode would have been a super addition, but I don’t even want to know what sort of sorcery would have needed to happen to get that running on any console with so much happening on screen. Bottom line time: Outstanding and just pure fun to play, X-Morph Defense is a truly fantastic hybrid that deserves not only a larger audience, but some sort of follow up in the future.
Score: A (95%)
Review code provided by the publisher