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Score: 75%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Kasedo Games
Developer: Tesseract Interactive
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Tower Defense/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Excubitor blends the tower defense and space-shooter genres to make a game that has a lot of the right elements for a really compelling experience, but it also has a few stumbling points that will take some getting used to.

Exubitor's visuals give you a top-down view of the battlefield you are trying to defend. The camera is focused on your ship and close enough to give a good bit of detail to most of the vehicles and buildings in the various maps you find yourself in. Those maps do have a good bit of variety, both in the layout of each battlefield and in the overall feel of each of the worlds the game's story brings you to.

While Exubitor's graphics seem to hit the spot, the audio aspects are far more forgettable. The background music feels fairly generic, but since it also stays out of the way, it doesn't hinder the experience. The game's voiceovers, like the ship's A.I., are fairly well done and never really feel phoned in. Even so, there isn't anything that will make you stand up and take notice in this department.


While Excubitor isn't the first tower defense game I've played to give you some direct control over the action, it does seem to be the most frenetic and intense one of this flavor.

Like most tower defense games, you have various places on the map that you can place your different artillery. Each deployment costs points, and during the battle, downed enemies add to your available currency to upgrade or add new turrets to your defenses.

Where Exubitor delves into the shooter genre is the fact that you are in control of a ship called The Hammerhead. Between missions, you can upgrade various stats and weapons for this ship, and during battles, you can fly around the map to not only maintain and improve the weapons at the different pinch points, but also fire directly on the enemies in order to aid those various turrets.

Unfortunately, one of the places Exubitor stumbles heavily is in its story. You learn of a drone attack and are forced to defend against the waves of enemies. The rest of the game's story is about tracking down the root of the attack and following the trail that leads to whatever nefarious plot caused that initial fight. In the end though, these between-mission story cards felt like little more than an excuse to take you from one battle to the next. As a result, I found the game's story didn't provide much of a driving force in making me want to see the game to the end.

Since the story doesn't provide that inertia, it needs to come from the gameplay itself. The drive to keep playing needs to come from the desire to experience what the next battle will feel like. While that did happen occasionally, the intense nature of each level left me often feeling like I needed a break between fights rather than wanting to plow through mission after mission. In the end, it just made it hard to keep any kind of momentum going. I can't say the game ever felt like a chore to play, but it definitely wasn't something I felt like marathoning.


While Excubitor isn't a hard game, it can be an exhausting one. Each level has you defending against several waves of enemy attackers, and each wave feels long, especially since you could easily find yourself flying all over the map assisting and upgrading your defenses in order to keep the enemy hordes at bay. While not every map is large, there is almost always the feeling of rushing from one end of the board to the other as the waves get more and more intense.

While the game does get more difficult as you progress, it doesn't really feel like you are starting off on easy levels to help you get used to the game's controls. As a result, you feel like you are jumping into the deep end right away. This is exacerbated by the fact that the turrets you have access to early in the game aren't all that powerful and you will be assisting them a lot. But I guess the fact that you are there to assist those stationary defenses means that you are helping to balance out their lack of power. Thankfully, the turrets do get more powerful as the game goes on, but the game does manage to get progressively harder than that initial deep-end-dive as well.

And then there are the bosses. When a boss battle mission occurs, the game almost takes on a bullet-hell feel as you are forced to not only face swarms of enemies, but also the massive amount of armaments from each boss. At least you have your turrets to help dole out damage in this game, but even with those, it feels like you are doing most of the work, and if the normal missions felt stressful, these are even more so.

Game Mechanics:

Excubitor's blending of tower defense and space-based shooter means that it has to figure out the best way to handle both genres' expected control schemes, and it is in how the developers attempted to tackle this problem where Excubitor can have a lot of issues.

Excubitor uses the mouse to not only select which turrets you want to install, sell or upgrade, but it is also your target reticle. On the surface, this doesn't feel too bad. It turns the shooting almost into a point-and-click control scheme except that you aren't selecting enemies and locking in on them, you are simply pointing at the spot you want your weapons to hit, and if there happens to be enemies there, so much the better.

The problem is, the mouse input itself can be really rough. When I first played the game, I had a basic, no-bells or whistles, optical mouse hooked up. The result was a complete lack of control in my cursor's position and an impossible gameplay experience. What I eventually found was that I needed to use a mouse that had a bit more customizability built into it. What you are looking for is something that has an adjustable dpi so that you can tune the mouse to the input the game is expecting, because if you don't, you will have a hard time even navigating around the tutorial level.

I have to say, this early experience really soured my first impressions of this game, and it wasn't until I found the right mouse for the job that I was able to make real progress and see what Excubitor really had to offer.

Excubitor is a game with a fairly unforgiving learning curve. The basics aren't difficult to understand, but from the start, you will find yourself knee-deep in tough missions. The ability to upgrade your ship and unlock a lot of different weapons and turrets as the game progresses means that you will end up with enough options to find a loadout that fits your needs, but the game can be both intense and even exhausting.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 7/8/10, Intel Core i3-2100 (3.1 GHz) / AMD A10 5800k (3.8 GHz), 4 GB RAM, GeForce GT 440 (1024 MB) / Radeon HD 4890 (1024 MB), DirectX 11, 6 GB Hard Drive space

Test System:

Windows 10 64-bit, Intel i7-4770K 3.5GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 11

Related Links:

Microsoft Xbox One The Solus Project Microsoft Xbox One Ghostbusters

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