Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4)

Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: X-Morph: Defense
Format: PSN (3.8 GB)
Release Date: August 30, 2017
Publisher: EXOR Studios
Developer: EXOR Studios
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), €19.99 (EU), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
X-Morph: Defense is a blend of top-down shooter and tower defense, with the latter mostly being planned out and positioned in between waves of enemies. I’ve only had to move two towers during battle, due to accidentally knocking a building down and changing the route of the enemies.

Before I get ahead of myself I should point out that you’re not playing as the humans but as the invading aliens. Your ship is tasked with defending the Harvesters by any means necessary, deploying an assortment of towers with barriers, blowing up bridges, and as I mentioned earlier, collapsing buildings.

PS Nation Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4) PS Nation Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4)

Making the path to the Harvester as long as possible gives the towers and your powerful craft the time to decimate the waves of enemy vehicles that snake their way through the detailed and adaptive battleground.

Before you press the touch pad to begin the next wave, you can see each enemy route laid out on the play area, giving you the opportunity to plan accordingly. As you build each tower and, if the distance isn’t too great, construct barriers between them, the routes adjust accordingly. Sadly, you cannot totally block their path, the game simply doesn’t allow it.

Each level has a total of five waves and the routes can change a few times over the course of the level. This means planning is key to success and blowing up a structure early on might make things worse later. It’s a risk but one I love taking as blowing up the buildings is very satisfying.

The only way to build is to switch to Ghost Mode, which makes the craft invulnerable and faster than normal. It’s a handy mode to move around the map without fear of taking damage. You cannot fire any weapons while you’re invisible to the enemy forces but you can move freely, including through structures.

The variety and quantity of enemy vehicles will increase with each wave and area but I never feel overwhelmed and always get the impression I could get a perfect score with the right amount of planning.

PS Nation Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4) PS Nation Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4)

There are four factors to the scoring, core damage, the time taken, regenerations, and debris collected. I struggled with the last one in the first few hours of the game as I would always forget to switch modes and suck up the clutter scattered on the ground since it doesn’t stick around for long.

I really like that I am told how well I performed against the rest of the players at the end of the level. Just in case you’re wondering, I generally do better than seventy-five percent of the community.

The Survival Mode, just like the Story Campaign, is very enjoyable and adds some urgency to the proceedings as there is a short countdown to each wave and a choice of upgrade that can easily turn the tide of battle.

Many of you will be happy to hear about the inclusion of a Platinum Trophy, but you will need to find someone else willing to play if you want the shiny reward as one Gold Trophy requires the co-op campaign to be completed. This seems unfair in my opinion.

Visuals:
X-Morph: Defense is a stunning spectacle of destruction. Structures explode and topple, altering the landscape. Everything reacts to the force of your devastating attacks, trees sway and can even be ripped from the ground. I’ve often found myself obliterating the landscape during the planning phase just because it looks awesome.

I’d watched the trailer for this game a long time ago and in some small way thought it looked chaotic and it put me off a little. I still wanted to try it as I expected the crazy scenes shown to be late in the game when the player can see through the madness unfolding. Thankfully I was right, the game builds up the insanity gradually.

Everything from the slowing time effects to the bursts of fire and lasers looks sublime. The attention to detail is excellent too. I love that, instead of skipping the cutscenes, it fast forwards, complete with a few scanlines and comically fast talking.

Audio:
Beginning a wave of attack in X-Morph: Defense comes with an ominous tone of dread, then the action kicks in and the music follows suit. The voice acting, along with being very familiar, is great and lets me know when I’m doing well, and what to expect with regard to the incoming enemies.

Online/Multiplayer:
Sadly, there is no online multiplayer but there is split-screen co-op that utilizes a unique set of levels designed for two. It works really well and the PlayStation 4 Pro handles the combined mayhem with ease.

PS Nation Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4) PS Nation Review: X-Morph: Defense (PS4)

Conclusion:
X-Morph: Defense is impressive. It’s a refined balance of planning and action that manages to stay fun and absorbing. The destruction and mayhem are so skillfully designed it puts many action films to shame.

The learning curve is great and with several difficulty levels X-Morph: Defense is easily accessible for newcomers to the genre(s) and very enjoyable for veterans. The fact that the developers at Exor Studios have managed to blend together tower defense and a solid shoot ‘em up is an achievement in itself.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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