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Save President Roosevelt from Anarcho-Satanists in this penny arcade twin-stick shooter

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Bartlow's Dread Machine (opens in new tab) is a twin-stick shooter that recreates, with some embellishments, the old penny arcade machines from the turn of the 20th century. It follows the adventures of a member of the Secret Service, who rushes to the rescue after president Teddy Roosevelt is kidnapped by Anarcho-Satanists bent on destroying the American way of life.

That's not the deepest narrative setup ever, but there's a silly charm to all of it, including the gear-driven game worlds that will take players from turn-of-the-century New York City to the Pacific Ocean and beyond. Characters move along slots in the game board, a lot like tabletop hockey games (opens in new tab), which looks restrictive at first glance but actually adds an interesting tactical layer to the action—you have to be very careful about where you going and who's coming after you, because it's very easy to get boxed in if you're not paying attention.

Health, reloads, and checkpoint saves are also activated by running across certain sections of track and flipping the switches laid out across them. It's an interesting and effective blend of digital and mechanical—not "realistic" in any sense of the word, but with a keen attention to detail that creates a satisfying impression of a steam-and-gears machine grinding away as it should.

The game has been in Steam Early Access since July, and developer Beep Games announced today that it will go into full release on September 29. The complete version of Bartlow's Dread Machine will support solo and co-op play with six game worlds to work through, more than 50 guns from basic six-shooters to futuristic Tesla guns, and 16 playable characters, including Nicola Tesla himself, who was added in an update released today along with pioneering stage coach driver Mary Fields and a new location called the Canal Zone, "where construction of the Panama Canal has unearthed a mysterious structure containing untold horrors and dark magic."

You can find out more about Bartlow's Dread Machine at dreadmachine.com (opens in new tab).

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.