Combining tower defense strategy and twin-stick shooting is an intriguing premise for a video game. X-Morph: Defense has you play as evil alien conquerors but do you have what it takes to overthrow humanity and claim Earth for yourself?
You don't often get to play as alien invaders but X-Morph: Defense's satisfying and challenging blend of genres definitely makes conquering the planet very tempting. Basically, you play through a succession of stages that contain multiple waves of humans trying to save their planet. Each wave has 2 phases: one where you build up defense turrets and another where you can freely fly around the stage while trying to destroy as many military vehicles as possible (such as tanks and bombers). You can build in this latter phase as well so you could consider the first phase one that merely allows you to adequately prepare. Watching an entire army of hundreds of tanks and jets slowly move into the battlefield and having your perfectly-placed turrets thin out the herd then blasting away the rest manually is such a rewarding gameplay dynamic.
One thing that blew me away about X-Morph: Defense is its incredibly detailed visuals and fantastic audio. Each stage is intricately composed of features that are unique to the part of the world that you're fighting within. Observing an office tower topple over in Japan then seeing a forest catch on fire in the Russian wilderness ushers in a layer of authenticity that you don't often get to experience in these kinds of games. The orchestral music is reminiscent of a science fiction disaster movie which is fitting for the world of X-Morph: Defense. Your human opponents are voiced quite well as you hear them yell commands and panic after you devastate their ranks. Your overlord gives you advice as well and his creepy looming voice is spot-on. However, he tends to repeat himself rather often. Hearing him say "The core is under attack!" a dozen times in a row is annoying to say the least. Dude, I get it.
Back to the gameplay, the turrets come in a handful of varieties and you can link them together to form laser fences that divert your enemy's path. This adds a puzzle element to the equation as you want all of them to travel down the same long winding path. That being said, building turrets can get annoying at times. For example, you sometimes have to reconfigure all of your defenses but doing so manually becomes a huge pain. I wish there was an option to remove all of your turrets so you can start fresh but you have to either delete or move them one by one. Anyway, your ships have an assortment of weapons, too. Learning which ones are most effective given certain circumstances is definitely a rewarding feat. Overall, there's enough variety to make X-Morph: Defense fun for hours.
Before playing X-Morph: Defense, I didn't expect it to be a cooperative game. However, you can have a local player join you in the fight against humankind. I found doing so added a ton of fun to the gameplay as it made both strategizing and combat much more immersive. Therefore, if you're looking for a unique and enjoyable local cooperative experience then this is one must-play game.
Even with cooperative multiplayer, I sure wish there was more to X-Morph: Defense than just the stage-based campaign. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to do but there's still essentially only one mode. If there were online multiplayer or a survival mode then there would be much more replay value. As it is, the lengthy campaign and optional local multiplayer are great but that's all there is to it.
X-Morph: Defense is one of the most impressive and addictive games that I've played all year. The blend of twin-stick shooting and tower defense is perfect for some intense gameplay and the fact that you can enjoy it with a pal is the icing on the cake.
- + Addictive and challenging blend of tower defense and twin-stick shooting
- + Top-notch visuals and sound
- + Playing cooperatively is a blast
- - Could use additional modes besides just a stage-based campaign
- - Building phase has minor annoyances
- - Voices can be extremely repetitive