Review – Bendy and the Ink Machine

Compared to others, my familiarity of Bendy and the Ink Machine was insignificant at best. Not knowing it was a game, my preliminary thought was that it was a show or concept ripped off from Cuphead. I remember seeing a plentiful amount of merchandise swamping the stores of Hot Topic, Box Lunch, and Spencer’s and still my ignorance stood its ground. Shame on me, because the game is developed by Rooster Teeth Studios, a highly popular YouTube channel I’m actually quite fond of. You’d think I’d be more cognizant of them developing a first-person psychological horror game. But I digress, so let’s dive in and see what parts of the game work well and which parts fall short.

bendyloomin

“Hey! I see you there, loomin.”

The game’s main focus is Henry Stein, a retired animator who has been summoned by an old employer to revisit the old studio he once worked in, only to ascertain that the area has been infested with possessed characters from the show he worked on, seemingly by the Ink Machine. From the beginning, I could sense the obvious Bioshock impersonation they were going for. While Bioshock had your character explore the depths of Rapture with a common theme of dark rooms and corridors, Bendy has you venture through the animation studio with a common theme of Sepia. Though sometimes the game feels a little glitchy, the all-bright yellow feel to environment with the added effects of ink splatter is a very pleasant touch. Since Bioshock is a cherished game by many and Infinite being a Top 5 all-time favorite of mine, I appreciate the determination they went with. But you can bet I am going to hold this game to Bioshock’s standards, especially if it’s going to imitate it almost unashamedly.

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*cough cough* Bioshock *cough cough*

Bendy and the Ink Machine is your typical first person horror game that has been done over and over before. You will tread around the environment and collect items in a particular order, with enemies jumping out at planned areas. I myself am not really affected by the jump scare mechanic, but when I’m gotten, it’s done very cheaply. It’s hard not to react to brash unexpected noises and fast movements; it’s not so much scary than it is startlingly irritating. I will give credit where it is due. The object manipulation and reorganizing of Bendy statues had me stopping in my tracks to prepare myself for a potential scare. The controls are very simple and approachable. You move around, jump, interact or “melee” (more onto that later), and each action is mapped to its own button, with nothing convoluted ever being presented. Characters are voiced very well and the atmospheric background music is creepy. Some of sounds the enemies are a bit odd, but for the most part it’s pretty solid.

bendyborisdead

You okay over there?”

While I appreciated the atmospheres of the haunted animated studio, the things lurking around and the things I had to do during my time is a horse of a different unpleasant color. Let’s say baby vomit green. The enemy character models were for the most part under par. For starters, the basic Ink enemy was designed of the levels of the blue alien men from Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”, but those guys possessed eyes and a mouth. That music video was released back in 1999, what’s your excuse, Bendy? Even the main villain, the Ink Demon, was a letdown. Whenever you got noticed when he was in the area, you are supposed to hide in cabinets until he goes away, just like Amnesia. I purposely let him catch me so I could get a good look at him and I must say, this game could have used a lot of polish. Honestly, the only character that impressed me was Boris, the lanky, silent Goofy rip-off character that everyone wants to get their hands on.

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The environments are solid. The enemies, not so much.

While the controls are simple, the movement isn’t fast enough for my needs, and unfortunately the game is heavily reliant on backtracking, escaping and fetch-questing, which result in a long periods of restlessness. While it’s nice to have a sense of not knowing where you need to go, as it makes the horror game aspect more enjoyable, I feel once an area has been exhausted, it should stay that way to avoid redundancy. The so-called “combat” is a clunky unpolished mess. The game programmed the combat so poorly, it almost feels as if they were obligated to include it and rushed it into the final product. Mindlessly strafing around an enemy and mashing the melee button hoping to outlast them and then regaining your health before repeating the process is not good game design, it’s boring and unintuitive.

While there seems to be more gripes than I’d hoped for, I can’t say it’s much different than most of the other indie horror games I’ve seen these days. If you can stomach simple controls, poor combat, and boring backtracking fetch quests, I’d say Bendy and the Ink Machine is at least worth looking at. The animation studio has a lot of details that provide for a captivating journey and its story is more interesting than most horror titles I’ve come across. I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers, but the ending has a nice twist to it to tie it all together. Overall, it’s not so much a Stink Machine, but I wish they had more time to work out all the Kinks Machine.

 

Graphics: 6.5

While the Sepia, Bioshock themed animated studio is visually interesting, certain enemy models feel very outdated.

Gameplay: 6.5

Simple and approachable controls are a plus. Slow movement and poor combat…not so much.

Sound: 8.5

Sharp noises increase rate of jump scares. Atmospheric background music and voice acting are both solid.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Limited thought fetch quests and backtracking hold get in the way of an interesting story.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Bendy and the Ink Machine is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Bendy and the Ink Machine was provided by the publisher.

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