Bendy and the Ink Machine Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One
Originally released episodically, Joey Drew Studios atmospheric horror is now available in its complete form on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Henry, our protagonist returns to his old haunt - Joey Drew Studios - to find it upended with unhinged scrawling on the walls, batoned up doorways and a pretty creepy vibe from the moment he arrives. It soon transpires that all isn't as it seems and the magical ink machine at the centre of the adventures is bringing the animated creations to life. Unfortunately, one of these creatures happens to the titular Bendy, who is not only the studio mascot, but also has something of a killer streak.
Bendy and the Ink Machine is an interesting blend of horror and Cuphead style nostalgia that blends into a unique experience and one that hits most of its marks. It's just a shame then that when you strip away this joyful, horrific, coating what you're left with is a game that is very much about repetitive exploration and traipsing from one room to another solving rudimentary puzzles - find an object here, pull a lever there - it's something we've done a million times before.
The game's soundtrack is perfectly judged too with the tension ratcheting up in the most tense moments and when things really kick in the atmosphere that the soundtrack really helps get that adrenaline flowing. It's hard to go into detail in a review of a game that depends on surprise to be effective.
Combat is a little cumbersome - to the point that we're thankful that it isn't a central part of the game - there are a few moments where you go head to head with opponents and these can be frustrating rather than rewarding due to the limits of you weaponry and short range of attack. You can often feel swarmed and success feels more about luck than skill.
The artwork throughout the game is top drawer - and it looks as good in motion as in screenshots. Each scene is a work of, admittedly disturbing, art that gets a lot of its creepiness from the style of early animation. Making the two dimensional appearance work so evocatively in and FPS really is impressive; in a similar way to the painted look of 11-11 Memories Retold and it's lovely to see indie developers experimenting with artistic styles in order to create unique experiences.
Bendy and the Ink Machine is a solid game that overcomes its shortfalls in combat and gameplay by creating an experience that is as lovely to look at as it is terrifying. Horror gaming has never been more evocative and creepy than it is here.