Not knowing a thing about Excubitor prior to my first play, I thought it would just be a simple space shooter. To my surprise, Excubitor has turned out to be a lot more than that. Excubitor mixes top-down shooter action with tower defense strategy. Excubitor, though it does not have much of a story, is about a fighter ship, the Hammerhead, and the research vessel, Antares. In each mission, you have to use the Hammerhead to protect the Antares, as hordes of enemies converge on the ship.
The Antares, being a ship on a peaceful mission, does not have a lot in the way of offense. It has a couple of guns (exactly two) and a shield to protect it. Protecting the Antares is the most difficult objective you will have to achieve. In the first couple of missions, protecting the ship is not a feat. In my experience, when I got to the third mission, the protection of the Antares was much more difficult than before. If this was graphed, the line would go from flat to flying off the page.
The problem that I have with that increase in difficulty is that the Antares does not seem to get any more powerful than it was in the early missions. If you don’t have your turrets prepared AND keep an eye on the ship, it may be destroyed within a couple waves. It’s through trial and error that you learn what tactics will pull you through. I think that is the pull for me, why I have ultimately enjoyed Excubitor. Although it’s disheartening to see the Antares get destroyed again and again, it’s rewarding to finally piece together a winning strategy.
As you beat each level, new weapons and turret types become available. These unlocks can be used in past missions, which lends to replayability. I really could’ve used the EMP for the first boss stage, because it came in handy on the first level it was unlocked. Speaking of unlocks, your weapons can all be upgraded with the resources (voidshards) you collect. The Hammerhead can also be upgraded to increase its base damage, armor, speed, etc.
After getting over the first boss hump and unlocking more weapons, I settled on how I feel about Excubitor. I cannot recommend it to people who want a casual gaming experience, but for those who are looking for a challenge, Excubitor‘s got your number. I thank Excubitor for showing me a wild time, and (indirectly) helping me learn that the word excubitor is an actual historic term! Excubitor is £13.51 ($19.99) on Steam and is available now.