Review: Bendy and the Ink Machine

 

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I’ve had a fascination with Bendy and the Ink Machine for a few months, now, with an intense desire to play it. When I learned they were releasing a console version, I was ecstatic and happy to wait for it’s release – especially with the promise of all five chapters being on it not long after the release of chapter five.

I finally got the game a week ago, and beat it yesterday morning.

Now, if you haven’t heard of Bendy & the Ink Machine, here’s the basic concept:

You are Henry, former animator at Joey Drew Studios, coming back to the studio at the request of Joey himself. Upon arrival, you can tell things aren’t quite normal. Ink everywhere. Bendy cut outs lurking around every corner. And then, of course, there’s the Ink Machine. As you progress, and fall further into the inky world, things become more twisted, and you realize just how dark things have gotten since you left.

I am a firm believer in praising what you love, instead of bashing what you hate. But that doesn’t mean I need to sugarcoat flaws that definitely have an impact on gaming experience – that being said, this was a labor of love. So, before we dive into everything I love and the full review itself – let’s get the few issues out of the way.

To preface, this was an indie game to start, that exploded in popularity. The first two chapters are short, but also fairly flawless – I didn’t have any technical issues. But a lot of time and love went into these first two chapters. The creators, from what I read, worked very hard to get chapter three finished, and with a lot more for players to do, since it was being so well received. I don’t want to point out these flaws to criticize the developers – but rather to aid other players that may want to enjoy the game but be unaware of the problems they may face.

While the first two chapters were great, chapter three is where my troubles began. I’ll try to express my biggest issues while avoiding spoilers plot wise:

  • During a task in chapter 3, you’re faced with enemies you’re ill-equipped to fight, and unable to take very much damage yourself, and inevitably are forced to repeat this small fight repeatedly. While frustrating, it was manageable – until I hit my first real glitch. When I went to respawn after dying the second time, my enemies were missing, my objective was in place, and I was stuck and unable to progress. Again, frustrating, but manageable. All I had to do was quit and reload the game. In a few tries, I was successful, and progressed on to chapter 4.
  • Here’s where my rage fits began, haha. I save frequently. Even with games that autosave, like Bendy. I still manually save. Imagine my surprise when I went to load up my progress in chapter 4, only to be stuck on chapter three, again. Better yet – stuck in the SAME FIGHT that I had my first glitch with. All progress – gone. After searching the internet to find a way to fix it on the internet, I saw mentions of updating the game. Sure enough, I had an update available. Surely, this was a patch!
  • [Narrator: It was not a patch.] Updating was a mistake. It didn’t fix any issues I was having, and made the game darker. This didn’t worry me in most areas. But one particular task, avoiding an enemy while searching for 5 items, was almost impossible. Even turning my brightness up all the way, I couldn’t see much of anything. Having already plated that part already, I knew it wasn’t originally so dark. I understand making it darker and spookier, but without a flashlight, it makes it very hard on the player.
  • My final major issue, and upon further research – a major problem for many others – is a mini shooter game you have to beat to progress. If this were a normal task, it wouldn’t be so bad. But this is a list of technical issues – so here we are. There is a definite control/game lag that makes hitting targets pretty difficult. On top of that, it’s hard to tell where you’re aiming, so even if you think you have it dead-on, you’re probably wrong. So many people struggled with this that they ended up giving up on the game.

Those are the main issues you need to worry about. There are a few hiccups, usually resolved by exiting and re-entering the game. I’ll add tips for some of the above issues after the review, itself.

So, after all that, what do I think?

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I absolutely love this game.

A game that combines animation corruption and a sort of demonic/monster horror vibe, with obvious inspiration from my favorite game – Bioshock – it was destined to win my heart.

Speaking of Bioshock, there’s this little gem of an Easter Egg in Bendy:

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10:15 – F. Fontaine

atlasss_copy8089622498408735197.pngIf you don’t get the reference, Would You Kindly Google it? 😉

The story for Bendy and the Ink Machine is so brilliant and so much fun. There is a lot of debate if it’s based on Walt Disney and Mickey, or Max Fleischer and Bimbo and/or Felix. In all honesty, I could see either. There’s a “haunted house ride” that I think we can all agree sounds suspiciously like Haunted Mansion. But character designs, well, have a look:

Bendy and Alice Angel have a similar look to Betty and Felix, and a similar story to Betty Boop and Bimbo – with Boop rising up and overshadowing her male counterpart. Even taking Betty Boop’s original appearance and comparing her to Alice being half angel, half demon. Betty Boop was, once, a dog:

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I like to imagine a blend of both Walt and Max, and their relationships with their creations. It’s more fun to think of it as a general old days of animation gone terribly wrong.

The story is fantastic and dark and wonderful, and the design and game itself are beautiful. I love the character development and concepts behind everything. Honestly, it was 100% worth the struggles I had with glitches and broken save mechanisms, etc.

One I’m most obsessed with is, obviously, Alice Angel:

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I love the various sort of versions of her, and if I ever went back to cosplaying, she’d definitely be on my list.

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Tips for the struggles:

  • If you also have the saving issue, and cannot complete the game in an entire sitting and must step away: What I figured out for my PS4 was to save the game, pause, and go to the main PS4 menu without exiting the game, leaving the application still technically on in the background. From there, I entered Rest Mode, like you would to charge your controller, instead of turning the console off entirely. I came back to my game the next day, and started again just by opening the game.
  • If something glitches and breaks, quit and reload without exiting the game entirely. Just go back to the main menu and load up. As long as you don’t leave the game, it should still have your progress.
  • Don’t be ashamed to look for help online. Check discussion boards. Look up playthroughs on YouTube. I was regularly checking a few walkthrough websites.
  • Keep trying. If you love the game as much as I did, you’ll know it’s worth it.

Well, there we have it. Bendy and the Ink Machine. I love this game, despite it’s flaws, which I believe will be addressed in the future. Thank you, developers, for giving us something so interesting and visually exciting. And please, please – give us a full, long game as a sequel. I miss Bendy’s world already.

Have you played Bendy and the Ink Machine? Do you have any tips? Drop a comment below!

Angel

 

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