Originally released for PC and home consoles back in 2017, X-Morph: Defense is the latest addition to the long line of older titles that are seeking new audiences on the Nintendo Switch. Its sci-fi B-movie plot cleverly spins the usual “aliens vs humanity” story upside down by casting players as the aliens rather than the humans, playing a part in an extraterrestrial plot to take over Earth by creating a network of connections in major cities across the globe. Your job is to oversee the installation of massive “harvester cores” and prevent human armies from interfering with the process by destroying everything in sight by any means necessary.
The biggest trick up XMD's sleeve lies in its unusual gameplay. This is a top-down tower defence / shoot 'em up hybrid that works way better - and is much less dull and / or daunting - than you might imagine. Humans will attack in waves, their vehicles travelling along clearly marked paths through the city streets. Before each wave begins, you're able to arrange your defences to create choke points by closing off certain paths, or simply line the streets with a battery of assault towers. When the humans arrive, the game switches to a scrolling twin-stick shooter where the left stick controls your movement and the right fires your ship's weapons in any direction. Take down all of the enemy vehicles, reassess your defences, and move on to the next wave.
Between missions, players are able to upgrade their ship with new weapons, and purchase abilities to strengthen your chances of success, but a certain amount of skill points and resource materials are needed to unlock these upgrades, so you always have something to work towards.
The tactical side of things is just enough to keep strategy fans entertained while not being too overcomplicated for those who are less keen, and the shoot 'em up sections are great fun (although we might have appreciated a little more variety in the available weaponry). With completely destructible environments, some wonderfully corny dialogue (especially from the human army commander), a side-helping of RPG elements, smooth combat mechanics, and the ability to replay cleared missions just for the fun of it, X-Morph: Defense really took us by surprise. Go kill those humans!
X-MORPH: DEFENSE / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: EXOR STUDIOS / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW