Xbox One Review: Bartlow’s Dread Machine

Should this game fill you with dread?

Teddy Roosevelt has been kidnapped! Your mission: Pursue his abductors from New York, across the Great Plains to San Francisco, the high seas and beyond using trains, ships and even a new-fangled automobile. Master an arsenal of futuristic Edwardian weapons as you fight otherworldly creatures to free the Commander in Chief.

Bartlow’s Dread Machine is a strange game but a highly enjoyable one. You play as a agent trying to track down Roosevelt’s kidnappers but the game itself is played out on a machine where you have to move your character along the tracks on the screen, shooting anything that comes close but you can only move within the confines of the tracks, so you have to make sure you don’t accidently bottleneck yourself from an incoming wave of enemies.

The game’s art style is like a mixture of steampunk mixed with old silent movies where the music is played with a piano like it would have alongside those types of films and it works. It’s a bit odd at first to be granted, but it soon becomes second nature and I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Bartlow’s Dread Machine is more than your standard twin-stick shooter with this “on-rails” mechanic, which isn’t the traditional on-rails that we’re used to in games as you can actually move back and forth as opposed to being stuck on a moving track and only being able to aim and shoot. You can play the game solo or co-operatively with a friend locally and you can pick the difficulty that suits you.

The visual style is pleasing to the eye and makes me wish that more games had this kind of art style and I honestly love the old-fashioned music. The load times are a bit long to load the game up initially but is more balanced afterwards.

The Verdict

Bartlow’s Dread Machine is a great twin stick shooter that sets itself apart from its competition. I really hope we get more games like this and I hope that most gamers don’t overlook this gem during the madness of the end of year games and new hardware. It’d be a shame for this to slip under the radar, so make sure you give it a go as soon as you can.

Score: 8.5