Bartlow’s Dread Machine is a twin-stick arcade shooter made in collaboration by Beep Games, Inc. and Tribetoy. President Teddy Roosevelt has been kidnapped, and as an agent of the Super Secret Service, it is your job to save him.
You will shoot your way through six unique areas, each with four levels that are traversed on a set track with environments that unfold around you. Moving on rails feels like you are navigating a theme park ride, which creates a wonderful sense of whimsy. Controlling pathway movement is reasonably responsive with only the occasional corner feeling uncomfortably sensitive.
The game’s biggest weakness is its co-op. You cannot swap between solo and co-op during a game and must instead restart entirely. I played co-op after a solo playthrough and was disappointed in how little enjoyment and challenge the experience presented compared to a solo run on the same difficulty. A second player made clearing enemies out a quick and easy effort, stripping out the excitement.
Overall, Bartlow’s Dread Machine is an engaging and exceptionally presented experience that draws you into its compelling world despite some disappointing co-op balance and occasionally frustrating enemy encounters.
This game is out now for $14.99 on Steam and Xbox One.
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Review copy provided by the publisher. Reviewed on PC.