Just when I thought there can’t possibly be room in the market for yet another tower defense title, X-Morph: Defense crash lands with a fresh take on the tired genre — it’s half traditional tower defense, half twin-stick shooter. What initially appears as a gimmick turns out to be a carefully thought-out formula that works surprisingly well, making X-Morph an absolute blast to play.
You play as an evil alien invader with one simple goal: take over Earth. Obviously, humans aren’t going to take kindly to that, so you’ll have to defend against waves of increasing military forces as you terraform the planet country by country. With such a wacky premise, X-Morph thankfully avoids taking itself seriously.
You’re encouraged to bring down skyscrapers and destroy entire cities, and bosses come in the form of giant mechs that do arguably as much damage to civilization as you. From its exaggerated logo full of flames and electricity to the cheesy in-game dialogue, X-Morph plays on its inherent silliness, gleefully embracing a tongue-in-cheek tone reminiscent of the Rampage games.
“With such a wacky premise, X-Morph thankfully avoids taking itself seriously.”
At your control is a trusty gunship equipped with some devastating weaponry. It’s a lot of fun to zip around the battlefield, single-handedly annihilating entire convoys with your blasters long before they can get close.
The ship’s chargeable cannon, which can be fueled by absorbing incoming projectiles, unleashes massive blasts that level both enemy units and the environment — needless to say, it’s especially satisfying to let loose.
As if the ship isn’t already powerful enough, it can be upgraded with anti-air and anti-ground capabilities, gaining new weapons such as singularity bombs and EMP fields.
Of course, you also possess various deployable turrets to help in your conquest. Turrets can be linked together to block off paths and different turrets are more effective toward certain types of units, requiring careful consideration of turret placement for a sound defense.
The fact that turrets can be placed at any time — even in the heat of battle — adds another layer of strategy, as you’ll often need to juggle between attacking with your ship and doubling back to plop down new defenses.
New enemy units are constant introduced and their attack routes vary with each wave, so you’ll have to think on your feet to avoid being overwhelmed. However, misplacing a turret is not the end of the world. In X-Morph, you always have your gunship to fall back on if things go south.
Are the super tanks bypassing your defenses? Simply fly over and wreak havoc on the silly humans yourself. As someone who’s not very strategically-minded, I really appreciated that X-Morph allows me to make up for my tactical short-comings with quick reflexes and an itchy trigger finger.
The destructible environment goes a long way in selling your role as a merciless alien invader. Cars explode, trees burn, and buildings crumble. Certain parts of the environment, like bridges, can influence gameplay, and their destruction will force enemies into taking a different path.
When placed, turrets terraform their surrounding area, covering nearby surfaces in sleek metal. I often found myself gunning at the environment rather than the enemy, just to see the level of destruction I could inflict. Cities sustain damage over the course of the battle, and by the end of each level, will be reduced to a fiery wasteland — a sight sure to bring a smile to your face.
X-Morph: Defense is shaping up to be one of the most promising tower defense titles available. On top of successfully blending two genres I never thought would go together, it also has everything one can ask for in a video game — aliens, giant mechs, and loads of destruction. I can’t wait to destroy more humans when X-Morph: Defense releases August 30th.