Name: Bartlow’s Dread Machine
Developers: Beep Games, Inc., Tribetoy
Platforms: Steam & Xbox One
Release Date: September 29th
Bartlow’s Dread Machine takes us back to the simpler times when arcade machines were more mechanical filled with gears, pulleys and levers. This twin stick shooter injects a small dose of style and imagery which we quite welcomed. While not perfect, Bartlow’s Dread Machine does hold our attention long enough, taking us through a story filled with mystery, intrigue and suspense.
Bartlow’s Dread Machine, as we stated before, is a twin stick shooter presented in the form of an ole timey mechanical arcade machine from the early 1900s, the dawn of the electric age. You play as a member of the Secret Service thrusted into a mission of extreme importance as President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt is kidnapped. The kidnapping is made even stranger as now you will have to fight through the hordes of otherworldly creatures of the Anarcho-Satanists, which is shrouded in secrecy, in order to rescue the Commander in Chief. The game will take you across six levels spanning from New York, San Francisco, on trains and ships and using weapons common and “futuristic”.
If you are familiar with twin stick shooters, you’ll be at home. One stick controls your character’s movement, while the other stick controls where you shoot. Your movement is limited to different paths on the present board, think like a game like Pac Man. As you clear the objectives from section to section, which might include a puzzle mechanic, the board sometimes flip, open, and rearrange. Some of the stages climax with a boss battle which might change the angle of perspective.
We did want to point out something about the controls which was kind of frustrating as we played. While only having fixed paths of travel, sometimes when the game throws many enemies and bullets at once, being able to quickly switch to another path at an intersection becomes very imprecise. This causes your character to maybe not go in the direction you wanted or worst get stuck on the corner of the intersection. Beyond this, switching weapons, deflecting and using your elixirs or items, worked like a charm.
Leveling up your character is very important as it can be the difference between a smooth challenging stage or a hair pulling couple hit death. You have three lives to start with, as well as be able to be hit a number of times. If you made it to a checkpoint, great, because if you died, you would start at the checkpoint. Once all your three lives have been used up, it’s game over. Everytime you defeat an enemy, they will drop a money bag. Be sure to hurry and collect it, because it will disappear after a couple seconds. At the start and in between games, you will be able to purchase various items such as weapons, hats, coats, pants, and elixirs. Hats, coats, pants and elixirs offer boosts to health, increase damage resistance, give speed boosts, increase the amount of money you can pick up, etc. Mixing and matching can ensure your success so be sure to find the right combo that matches your play style.
Along with leveling up your character, you’ll be able to find hidden characters that each have special attributes and weapons as default. While you are not able to switch between characters once you start a new game, playing as these hidden characters does offer a bit of replayability once you have completed the game.
The twin stick shooter has been around for awhile, but Tribetoy and Beep Games have presented it in a new stylish package. The details of the moving mechanical gears and parts to the old time amusement park music, Bartlow’s Dread Machine is a refreshing entry in the gaming market place. This game is simple, but also throws you into the gauntlet which puts a smile on your face when you make it out.
Bartlow’s Dread Machine is available for Steam and Xbox One.
As members of the media for Video Games and related news, Confident Gamers was provided with a Review Key in order to provide a fair opinion of the game and it’s components.