Twin stick shooters, tower defense games and zombies all seemed to be popular a decade ago.
The genre that uses two analog sticks to move and fire was easy to learn but hard to master. The tower defense concept gave birth to hits such as "PixelJunk Monsters." Meanwhile, the shambling undead were in everything from "Resident Evil" to "Left 4 Dead."
Several games have combined one or the other — "Plants vs. Zombies" comes to mind — but few have mixed all three. Ember Entertainment does that with "Survival Z," a controller-friendly title for Apple Arcade.
It puts players in the role of a survivor during the zombie apocalypse. From there, players face levels where they first plan out the type defenses they want to plant — sand barrier, barrel bomb, nailgun turret, etc. — and then they face waves of the undead. The game has a bit of strategy as players figure out choke points and escape routes they can use.
From there, it's about dodging enemy attacks and firing on them with a crossbow. Once players survive the quota of waves, they earn upgrades.
Although players often will encounter zombie hordes, not all levels involve combat. Depending on the path, players will come across a salvager who gives away items. They can find a clinic where they can heal wounds. There are even some story-focused events, where players must make choices that can benefit or hurt them.
"Survival Z" has some rogue-lite elements to it. Essentially, that means when players die, they have to start over and lose all their upgrades. They still maintain their equipment, which they upgrade by spending gold they get from killing zombies. They can also boost their defense items with the currency.
The idea is that despite the setback, players will learn techniques and strategies that will help them survive longer. Eventually with the equipment upgrades, they'll go through 50 unique levels.
Each level takes about five minutes minimum. What's great about "Survival Z" is that players can pick up and play whenever they want. It's a great game to play while bingeing a TV series or sitting through a sports game.