Dreams Don’t Come True in Bendy and the Ink Machine
When Henry gets an invitation from his old studio partner, you’d hope their reunion wouldn’t involve a cult. Sure enough, Joey Drew Animation Studios has gone to shambles thanks to a cartoon demon come to life and a mysterious ink machine. In Bendy and the Ink Machine, TheMeatly Games presents a stylized survival-horror game designed to crush yet another childhood treasure.
The art style really makes this game unique. Depicting the world through a sepia filter not only makes the game feel like the era of Steamboat Willie, but it also makes a great contrast to the sharp glossiness of the black ink everywhere. The lack of color also helps hide switches and puzzle items, which is vital in a game that ends so soon.
TheMeatly Games also deserves credit for its skill in subtle horror, not just jump scares. You know something’s going to leap out sooner or later, but the creators tease you around every turn. A wooden board falls from the ceiling; a moan echoes from down the hall; an adorable Bendy cutout shows up out of nowhere. The atmosphere sends a clear message: you are not welcome here, and you are being watched. Bendy ambushes you eventually, but those simple scary touches build up more anxiety than a jump scare ever could.
Some of the creepiest moments are so subtle, you might even overlook them. When looking down from the orchestra’s projector booth in Chapter Two, you’ll spot a few cutouts of good ol’ Bendy. Through performing a certain puzzle, you’ll have to dash between the booth and the orchestra pit at least once. You might notice that the cutouts disappear when you enter the pit. However, only attentive players will realize that the number of cutouts increases with each visit to the booth. Keep messing up the puzzle, and you’ll soon face a band of Bendys in the pit.
Unfortunately, the game’s biggest flaw seems to be a lack of substance. Chapter One serves more as a demo for the rest of the game. Chapter Two fails to build enough content to make it worth the purchase. Apart from a few achievements and a procedural placement for puzzle pieces, the game’s replay value is practically nonexistent. The scares don’t change, and even though the game doesn’t entirely spell out what to do, you won’t have much trouble zooming through the enemies and puzzles. Even if you crawl through the two available chapters, you’ll beat the game in 90 minutes.
However, Bendy and the Ink Machine has gathered a loyal following since its February debut. Much like the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, the game tears apart a childhood staple while also alluding to a deeper, darker history behind the game’s events. TheMeatly Games have shown impressive talent for this genre, and there’s hope that a complete bundle will make the game both more entertaining and easier on the wallet.
Bendy and the Ink Machine’s third chapter is currently under development and is expected to release within the next few months.