There are certain tropes that flourished in an arcade setting but never caught on as much with us console owners. This is strange really considering all the other games we dumped so much money into in the arcade and would have given an arm and a leg to own ourselves. One of these tropes is the rail shooter. This particular type of game tended to fall into one of two categories, both of which involved a light-gun of some description. The first saw you moving from scene to scene and getting attacked by characters that literally looked like moving cutouts. The other type made your opponents far more lifelike (often using FMV), but still having you move from one fixed location to another.
Some titles did really well on console. If we remember how much fun we had with games such as Virtua Cop and House of the Dead, for instance, there’s no doubting that there were occasions the rail shooter did very well in our own homes. On the whole, though, it’s very much a sub-genre that’s been lost to the passage of time. Now, after that rather lengthy, somewhat nostalgic little set up we come to the game we’re talking about today. It’s called Bartlow’s Dread Machine and it’s giving the rail shooter a much-needed shout out.
Bartlow’s Dread Machine is taking a lot of inspiration from early 20th-century game cabinets. Note I said early? Yes, unbelievably, there was a time we didn’t have videogames. We’re talking about cabinets that had you moving about on real rails, not the imaginary ones I’ve just mentioned. All these great ideas had to come from somewhere you know … so … history.
Set entirely within the confines of the Dread Machine, a relic from the dawn of the technological age, Bartlow’s Dread Machine, casts one or two players as government agents in a series of escapades across New York, San Fransisco, and all across the American continent. Your task will be to rescue president Roosevelt from the forces of evil. You’ll need to be wary, though, there are more sinister elements at work than a few gun-toting goons.
Bound to the clockwork gizmos running the machine, agents are little more than mere metal figures running about on rails. They aren’t just puppets to be pushed around, though, and this is what makes things interesting. The agents still have free will in this bizarre environment and can choose which of the forking paths they wish to take to achieve victory.
Expect sets made of wood and tin to unfold around you as you navigate the strange world of the machine. Here, in this strange puppet-show, you will be introduced to a cast of improbable monsters and historical figures.
Bartlow’s Dread Machine is giving you bags of content to play with. You get a whole six worlds to explore and plenty of fire-power to wield within them. There’s an armory of 52 guns to take into combat. There should be something in that lot for even the most jaded gun-slinger. If aesthetics is your thing you’ll also have a tonne of different outfits to enable you to get your kill on with style.
Something I think we can all agree that we like is the ability to unlock stuff. This is a million times better than stinky loot boxes and skins you have to pay for. We’re harking back to the days when you got rewarded for being good at the game and not having a bit wallet. In the case of Bartlow’s Dread Machine, you’ll be able to unlock interesting new spins on some really well-known characters. Fancy seeing zombie General Custer? Why not, right? Nikolai Tesla? Annie Oakley? The devs in all three cases totally have your back.
“We wanted to create something we haven’t seen beforeand realized there was a little overlap between early 20th Century arcade cabinets and video games, as the latter replaced the former, so we wanted to essentially combine the two. ” Said Matthew Hoseterey, Co-Founder and Director of Design at Tribetoy. “Bartlow’s Dread Machine maintains the aesthetic and tone of the former, while instilling it with the buttery-smooth gameplay and advanced design of the latter – the result being something utterly original. We can’t wait for players to discover it for themselves on Steam and Xbox!”
If Bartlow’s Dread Machine sounds like something that will float your proverbial boat you can indeed discover it right this very second, (as soon as you finish reading this,) for your Steam playing, Xbox owning-selves. I’ll finish rambling and let you go and do just that but let me do you the kindness of leaving you the Steam link right here, and, of course, one for your Xbox and telling you this title will cost you the rather reasonable amount of $14.99, (£11.59 for us British players.) Right … think I’m done now; go have a look and enjoy.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...