Excubitor review (PC)

Blending tower defense and space shoot ’em up, Excubitor mixes two fun genres and comes up being an entertaining little package. Here’s our review.

Excubitor is the second Kasedo Games title that we’re reviewing after Upwards, Lonely Robot. Kasedo is a brand within Kalypso Media that focuses on digital titles – often at a consumer-friendly price point. Excubitor is a PC-only title, available on steam, but would be at home on consoles as well.

In the game, you’re the pilot of a starfighter called the Hammerhead, and you’re tasked with defending the large research vessel the Antares. After responding to a distress signal, you find that the Antares is under threat from an alien force of drones and starships – and you have to combine shooter skills with strategic insights to be able to fight them off over the course of a multitude of levels.

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Defending against such a large swarm of enemies (who come at you in waves) is impossible on your own. Instead of trying, you’ll be deploying defense turrets at strategic locations – often chokepoints in a level. You’re limited in how many turrets you can manage in a given level, so your choices are important and affect what’s expected of you in terms of where the action will become heavy and where you stand the risk of being overrun.

Luckily, you’re able to upgrade your turrets to enhance their capabilities, and the same goes for your own ship. You’re free to spend your hard-earned credits on the hull of your ship and enhance the strength of your defense and/or engine, but you can also invest in a large variety of weapons – all of which can be upgraded throughout the course of the campaign. You can take each upgrade for a little test drive before you make your final decision as well, which is a nice feature considering how important the upgrade system is. And if all goes wrong, you’re always free to reset your loadout and start over with the same amount of credits to spend.

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Although the formula for Excubitor is rather straightforward, Macedonian developer Tesseract has tried very hard to provide the game with a bit of backstory and makes sure that the story develops as you continue to beat level after level. This is a nice touch that’s missing from a lot of tower defense (and shooter) games, because it makes you feel more involved with what’s going on and why you’re trying so hard to defend the Antares.

Presentation-wise, Excubitor looks nice for a game within its (two) genre(s), but it won’t win over fans of AAA shooters with its looks. You’d be hard pressed to find a better looking tower defense game though, and for a top-down game the visuals definitely get the job done. Sound effects are nicely done as well, although the game could have used more music for dramatic effect – especially in tense situations like boss fights.

Excubitor is, much like Upwards, Lonely Robot, another fun game by Kasedo Games. It’s not earth-shattering in terms of how original or visually impressive it is, but it does what it set out to do and it does it so very well. If you think you’d enjoy an arcade/shooter oriented approach to tower defense, then Exubitor is your game.

Score: 7.2/10

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