X-Morph: Defense (Switch) Review

When Aliens Attack

The setting is Earth. Aliens have crash landed on the planet and are out to harvest the world’s resources. It’s up to Earth’s strongest militaries to thwart the aliens’ attempts at world domination. You’ve probably heard this type of story before, but X-Morph: Defense has a twist: YOU are the alien, and your mission is to fend off the humans and take over the world!

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!

It’s surprising how one role reversal turns everything around. As the alien force, it’s exciting to see your expanding dominion over Earth and hear the (fully voice-acted) humans tremble at your might. X-Morph: Defense is a blend of two genres: tower defense and shoot ‘em up. In every map, waves of tanks, planes, and other threats approach your harvester core. Your objective is to protect your core and wipe out all opposing forces. There are two phases to each wave. In the first phase, you build towers that automatically fire shots at incoming foes. By consuming additional resources, you can upgrade towers with specialized weapons, such as anti-air missiles, lasers, or flamethrowers. You can set them up wherever you want, but scant resources limit the number of towers. I appreciated the unlimited time for deliberate planning, as I needed it to consider every option.

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The city of love, and evidently, war.

One unexpectedly engaging strategy was walling off enemy paths. By placing two towers near each other, you can create a laser fence. Since enemy pathways are always clearly displayed, it’s easy to determine the best routes to close, and the screen conveniently shows you how the paths shift. Of course, you can’t completely prevent enemies from approaching your core, but the game awkwardly handles the situation by immediately removing your fence if it blocks off the only remaining path. I understand that walling off every route would cheapen gameplay, but there’s no logical in-game reason as to why an alien bent on destruction like me wouldn’t want to be unstoppable.

X-Morph Defense Switch Gameplay
You can extend laser fences with more towers.

As far as the second phase goes, other tower defense games would normally involve you watching your towers pick off enemy waves. In X-Morph: Defense, you don’t have the luxury of waiting around and are instead a part of the action. In your spaceship, you fly across the field and manually fire your own shots to cover areas in need of extra protection. The game transforms into a hardcore twin-stick shooter, with all the thrills of maneuvering between bullet streams.

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The best (tower) defense is a great offense.

Having an active role in the tower defense is empowering. And as you destroy enemies, you gain more resources. Mid-battle, you can actually make your ship invisible (dubbed Ghost Mode) and build new towers as needed. In addition, you can move towers around at no cost, which creates hectic tension in the midst of action. My favorite segments were when the giant mech bosses appeared, which required more focused strategies and hardcore gunning. Altogether, the blended gameplay produces chaotic, exhilarating bouts that force players to balance shooting and building. Everything happens at a remarkably fast pace with no performance issues or slowdown.

It’s not too hard to grasp the gameplay, but the enemy barrages become overwhelming if you’re not well-versed in either genre. There are different difficulty levels to assist or challenge players. I found the Normal difficulty quite tough already, especially later in the game when increasingly frustrating enemy waves approach from all sides. Easy mode makes it a little too forgiving, completely healing your base core between each wave.

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Wait, humans had access to giant mech robots this entire time?!

Gradual upgrades offer the extra firepower necessary to get through the game unscathed. You earn points through battle to unlock perks such as new spaceship weapons, types of towers, or core power-ups. There are about 10-12 upgrades per category – a fair amount to vary gameplay – and you can transfer your point allocation between any upgrades. Though once you find a strategy that works (as I did with the incredibly strong lasers), you could keep that loadout the entire campaign.

Despite X-Morph: Defense’s clever concept, its premise wears thin over time. There are 14 maps, although only nine of them are required to finish the story. Each stage, lasting at least half an hour each, has about five to seven waves. By around the fifth stage, I felt like I had seen everything. The maps, based on real world locations, don’t stand out from each other and have few defining landmarks. The mazelike, multi-path configurations and layouts are well-designed from a real-time strategy perspective, but the maps are otherwise generic, merely differing in enemy pathways and destructible buildings.

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The people you’re trying to invade always give away their strategies.

An included Survival mode helps increase replayability and variability. With every wave, you are given random upgrades to choose from. Your mission is to last as long as possible against endless enemies that follow randomly generated pathways. As with the campaign, Survival is fun, but unless you’re a hardcore tower defense player seeking high scores, it gets repetitive.

There are three DLC modes, but unfortunately, they aren’t included for free. One feature strangely absent in the Nintendo Switch version is co-op mode, which is available in other editions. Otherwise, the Switch version has no real advantage besides the obvious portability. Touch screen support would have been accommodating for battle, since it gets frantic fiddling with the buttons to build towers.

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“What are we going to do tomorrow night Brain?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky: try to take over the world!”

Conclusion

X-Morph: Defense effectively mixes strategic tower defense gameplay with adrenaline-pumping twin-stick shooting. The detailed presentation and voice-acting help sell this epic campaign. And the fact that you get to be the invading alien is a nice change of pace. It’s not for everyone, and unless you love chasing high scores, there’s not much to do after the credits roll. If you’re a fan of either genre or are interested in experiencing a solid combination of the two gameplay styles, then X-Morph: Defense is an engaging way to take over the world.

Score: 7/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article.

What do you think of X-Morph: Defense? What are your favorite tower-defense games? How about your favorite twin-stick shoot ’em up games? Please be sure to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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10 thoughts on “X-Morph: Defense (Switch) Review

  1. Great review! Personally, I’m not a fan of either tower defense or shooters, so I don’t see myself playing X-Morph: Defense anytime soon. I like that it’s a hybrid game, though. And I really like the twist that you get to be the alien invaders and take over the world! It’s a refreshing spin on a cliche concept. I can be like Pinky and the Brain! And the two phases of building and shooting seem to complement each other well. The caricatured voices made me feel like I was on a theme park ride or playing an arcade game, but they fit the mood haha. I hope those humans took you to their leader! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support! 😀 Yeah, if you were at least a fan of either tower defense or shoot ’em ups, you could enjoy X-Morph: Defense, but not if you don’t like either. I like the genres, and I found the blended gameplay to be very clever and effective. I never felt like I was waiting around for towers, and the fact that I could build them during the combat segments was actually really exciting. It’s like a real-time strategy game or some kind of combat chess! And hahaha, yes, Pinky and the Brain was what I was going for, but I’m no Maurice LaMarche hahaha. He’s the true Brain! Also, I don’t think I gave the humans a chance to take me to their leader. Fine by me. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great job on your review!

        In some aspects, I’m on the same boat as crystaldragon619. X-Morph: Defense looks pretty epic. I could use a nice tower defense strategy game with a top down shooter mechanic on my Switch. I never heard of it until your post. Thanks for sharing man!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re very welcome! And thank you very much for your kind words! Yeah, if you’re a fan of either genre, X-Morph: Defense is a solid mash-up that feels engaging and strategic throughout. It’s definitely not a bad choice!

        Like

    1. Thank you so much man! Very appreciated!! 😀 I haven’t yet to play Tesla vs. Lovecraft, but it looks like a fun twin-stick shooter. As a general fan of both twin-sticks and tower defense, I thought X-Morph: Defense balanced the blended genres well. Building towers while fending off enemy attacks is a rush I never thought I’d experience. I hope you enjoy it if you end up picking it up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha, I hear ya about games falling into the ether. Backlogs are mysterious holes, and mine is also nuts. Hope you have an awesome time away from home in the coming months! I’m sure there’ll be like 100 more new Switch games to choose from then! XD

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a cool premise, that I could also see wearing thin after a while (a la Rampage.) It’s also odd that there’s no co-op on the Switch. This seems like a fun time waster, and something that lends itself more to portable gaming than anything else. Plus, it’s the closest thing to a Kang and Kodos game that we’re ever going to get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha, this is the Kang and Kodos game we’ve always deserved. One of the stages should have just had people attacking the aliens with boards with nails. “That board with a nail in it may have defeated us, but the humans won’t stop there. They’ll make bigger boards and bigger nails. Soon they’ll make a board with a nail so big it will destroy them all!” Seriously though, X-Morph: Defense is definitely a fun time-waster and you still get the enjoyment of destroying buildings like in Rampage. I wish the co-op was intact, though.

      Like

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