Set in the long abandoned Joey Drew Studios, Bendy and the Ink Machine (“BatIM”) is a survival horror game with an aesthetic of classic cartoons of yesteryear.
As Henry, you set about to revisit your old workshop after receiving a mysterious letter from your past employer. When Henry arrives at the shop, he finds duhn duhn duhn the Ink Machine. The Ink Machine is a rather large device that gushes out black ink and has mystical qualities.
Henry then becomes trapped in the maze-like studio, though he soon finds that he is not alone. Like a creep in the shadows, Bendy, the Mickey Mouse of the Joey Drew Studios universe, is lurking. BatIM blends puzzle solving with first-person gameplay as you adventure through a studio brimming with horrors. The art style is reminiscent of Steamboat Willie, with a macabre twist. Instead of happy go-lucky little animals, we are bombarded with the sinister grin of Bendy as he emerges from the shadows.
Similar to other games with an episodic structure (e.g.: Alan Wake and Life is Strange), BatIM uses short levels to advance the story line in some intriguing ways. Love of Exploration will be your saving grace in this game, as each area requires some in order to advance to the next. The game is not fast-paced. On the contrary, it’s meant to be a slow experience for the player with sparse combat scenarios present only to add a brief moment of action. Your actions as Henry are very limited, as is his speed. With 5 chapters, the gameplay time is at just about hours, and the game uses every minute to pull you deeper into the dark world it has created.
I reviewed BatIM for the Nintendo Switch and found that the game was somewhat held back by the platform’s technical limitations. The biggest drawback I found was that textures would often blur and have jagged edges, with the shaky 30FPS frame rate just feeding fuel to this fire. This is a detriment to gaming’s purpose in keeping the players immersed in the environment. BatIM is meant to be tense, but I often found myself dispelled of the illusion due to blurry visuals and dropped frames. With a game designed so well, how unfortunate that this be its biggest flaw. Maybe this can be patched out, but we can only hope at this point.
BatIM developer, theMeatly Games, may have taken inspiration from Five Nights at Freddy’s as the gameplay and overall genre of the games are quite similar. The world is conceptualized using objects such as books and tapes found within the game instead of long cut scenes that can tend to take you out of the moment rather than add to it in games like these. As you delve deeper into the oubliette of a workshop, you’ll find that the gameplay is perfectly paired with the game’s sick and twisted visuals, proving that BatIM delivers on every level.
Bendy and the Ink Machine is available now on all major platforms.
4 out of 5 stars