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What do you get when you throw a zombie invasion against a cowboy with a jetpack and a nuclear arsenal up his sleeve? Something that’s way greater than the sum of its parts if it’s being made by JED-GO Games. The Ukrainian Developer just updated JED-GO Untouchable (Out Now, Free), and when we checked it out we found it to be a surprisingly cerebral take on the Castle Defense genre. That’s not just because your flying cowboy is defending disembodied brains from the hungry masses — with a much quicker pace than your average genre title, JED-GO strikes such a perfect balance between twitch action and brain-taxing strategy, you might just find it impossible to put down!

JG1JED-GO‘s kooky hero automatically fires away while you slide him up and down in a bid to suppress three hordes at once. The savvy player will learn to line him up with each zombie’s weak spot, blowing it back and buying precious seconds on the level timer. Keeping your cool is easier said than done as the horde expands in size, speed and variety, not to mention reinforced by tanks and UFOs that won’t be stopped by any six shooter. That’s where your right thumb comes in: lined along the screen are virtual buttons for special attacks that let you temporarily freeze humanoid zombies, thin out the weakest in the horde, or nuke everything when the action gets overwhelming. Our favorite is the drag-and-drop mine that can be left on its timer or tapped for immediate detonation. Time this just right and you can clear out pesky little speeders along with the lumbering heavy armor. Quickly sizing up the situation and recalling which zombies are vulnerable to each special is just as important as racing for pickups to replenish your arsenal, so your entire nervous system gets a workout in this relentless, high-octane ride.

JG2Just as impressive as JED-GO‘s mix of action and strategy is its approach to rewards. The hapless brains get devoured quickly once zombies slip through and begin munching away, but manage to keep them all unscratched and you’ll earn crystals that can be traded in for mystical weaponry or used to lower the bar for unlocking the next level set. You’ll be tempted to make the virtual button-enabled specials the bread and butter of gameplay – and rightfully so – but get too lazy with the slider-controlled cowboy and you’ll find yourself lacking in reward cash to splurge on that coveted minigun, rocket launcher, or other big gun to replace his starting revolver.

JED-GO might be delivered with the same cotton candy panache as its developers’ kid-friendly Funny Bunny series, but rest assured this one serves up a satisfying challenge to any diehard iOS gamer who appreciates action and strategy in equal measure. Pick it up free today courtesy of Free App-a-Day, or for $0.99 afterward. Check out a snippet of gameplay from the Windows Store version below: