I didn’t know whether to laugh or get nervous when I heard Bendy and the Ink Machine was about to drop. This stand-out, comedic horror game has drawn a lot of attention to itself lately, and it’s easy to see why. Bendy is a fresh new take on the average hide and seek horror concept, and does it in a very cartoonish style. Remember Steamboat Willie? The 1928 animated short-film by Walt Disney? Anyhow, let’s just say Mickey Mouse, or better yet, Cuphead. All of these styles of drawing can be found strewn about Bendy and the Ink Machine, giving the game a very old-school feel.
The developers at theMeatly Games knew they were onto something when they created the first chapter, and realized that more could be added, so they did, and thus, Bendy was born. You start off in the footsteps of a Mr Henry Stein, a retired animator who receives an invitation to his old animation studio, but after he arrives, it seems he cannot leave. Cartoon characters had come to life via the use of the ink machine, and it’s up to you to find out why. As you move forward through the studio you uncover recordings on cassette players, explaining the story and who is behind it all.
Bendy carries with it all the traits you expect from a modern horror game, (and even though you would rarely use it) one of these being stealth. You may, if you choose to try and stay hidden, but the A.I. in the game, well, I wouldn’t call it smart. You can hide in cupboards and wait for the horror to pass, but you soon realize that once you step foot in the cupboard, the enemy completely ignores you, making the chase scenes not so dramatic. Because of this I chose to go flat-out, though after a couple deaths, you can easily remember the paths to take and can simply outrun the enemies.
The horror element in Bendy isn’t so much a jump scare one, and although it does contain a few shock-value scenes, horror mainly comes from the story aspects – but I would still advise you to run either way. Speaking of enemies, the character design is amazing. From monsters jumping out of ink pools to big monstrosities that can just rip you apart, these visions of the Joey Drew Studio makes you wonder what kind of cartoon they were cooking up down there. The visual surroundings are a work of art, the full detail of the 1920s has been implemented.
Big boards with big nails make the walls, as well as over-sized cartoon projectors and musical instruments, with drawing desks and ink wells atop. Not to mention all the cardboard cutouts of Bendy smiling the whole way, which you can destroy if you have a weapon at the time. What’s that? Weapons you say? Yes, in Bendy you indeed have weapons, but that’s only when the game decides to give them to you. These can vary from a shifter to a fire axe.
Safe to say if you receive a weapon, there will be enemies to kill and boards to pry open; revealing new areas to continue forth. A specially labelled can of beans will help you on your travels, acting as health which you can chart around the edges of the screen if you’re getting too low – the ink will ultimately suffocate you and pull you down. Not to worry though, as long as you clock-in at work you will start from that clock-in machine. Yes, you heard me, to save, you need to clock-in at work. Nice touch. I found Bendy to be a great horror in which everything works well.
The story and characters, along with a well designed environment all fit together nicely. I was, however, a bit disappointed elsewhere. Bendy suffers at the moment from some pretty bad framerate issues, coupled with the fact that everything being the same color can sometimes lead to mild confusion when trying to flee. The developers will need to make sure this is patched right away, but, don’t let this dishearten you. Bendy is a thoroughly enjoyable game, one that had me eagerly awaiting every twist and turn to see what was going to happen next.
Bendy and the Ink Machine is a pretty good action-horror, and although it can sometimes seem a little bland, you cannot knock it for its originality. There’s a couple of technical and design issues to iron out, but overall, the fresh and distinct look, together with some good scares, will undoubtedly keep your heart racing throughout.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.