Bendy and The Ink Machine gained a cult following after uploading Chapter 1 to Game Jolt in the winter of 2018. Created by theMeatly and Mike Mood, the game was meant to be a throwaway game just to show potential fans what the two could create together. Though with content creators on Youtube and Twitch playing the game, along with the 1930s animation style that was starting to be a fan favorite with another game called Cuphead, Bendy became an indie darling. With a growing fan base along with a small team, Joey Drew Studios Inc. came out with five chapters, and a bonus level making it a full game being released on PC and Mac late October 2018. Along with a console release to all three major players in late November.
To me, the game feels like Borderlands textures meet the cartoon styles of Fleischer (Inkwell) and Disney Animation Studios. While the game has puzzle mechanics where you have to flip levers and switches to find items and the next open door reminding me a bit of the puzzle you would find in Portal. There is a lot of backtracking in the first few chapters that started to get old quick though was easy enough to breeze right through. I did get lost a few times trying to find a few switches and when I watched an old walkthrough I found out how much the game had changed from the earlier releases.
One thing that I found out that some of the gameplay was different for me then it was when I finally found a walkthrough for the Nintendo Switch. I don't know if it was a bug or the game was made that way, but I really enjoyed the unique experience. The game still has some bugs to work out. Though it's way less buggy than Fallout 76, I found that I either had to restart or die to get the game to progress. Rooster Teeth sent me an email saying they are fixing known bugs, so there should be a patch sent out soon after they stop playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
You play as Henry Stein, a retired animator who used to work at Joey Drew Studios who returns after an invitation from his old friend and employer Joey Drew. To me, Joey seems to be a Walt Disney type visionary, and Henry is Walt’s old friend and partner Ub Iwerks. As you look around you find something called the Titular Ink Machine. While looking for items to turn the machine on you find a real-life Boris (Goofy type). Not knowing why Joey did this, you find tape recordings of Joey and the employees have been partaking in occult practices.
Though why bring these characters to life at all? You later find out that Joey’s investors were not happy with the studio and a new theme park. To bring something new to the amusement park landscape Joey wants to bring their mascot, Bendy, the dancing demon, and all of his friends to life with a brand new invention called Titular Ink Machine from the Gent Corp. Thomas Connor of Gent tells Joey that these creatures are soulless. Joey replies that he has thousands of souls to occupy the bodies. One of these people is desperate voice actress Susie Campbell. Joey tells her she will bring Alice Angle back to life once again after she takes part in Joeys "small project".
To me, this sounds like how Disney really runs things. Finding young talent promising the world, then, in the end, you’ll sell your soul and become something ugly you don't even recognize. I don't know if theMeatly and Mike Mood had the parallels in mind for the story. Though they really know how to bring my nightmares to life.
I really like some of the Easter eggs they have in the game. Benny's eyes are Pac-Man, there are times where Joey reminds me of Cave Johnson the CEO of Aperture Science in the Portal series.
"Ok, let's stop it right there. I can only do so many takes of this trash a day. And tell the guys in writing I want more use of the word dreaming in every message. Keep railing on that, get it? Dreaming! Dreaming! Dreaming! People just eat up that kind of slop. Hmm What? It's still on? Well, turn it off, damn it!". - Joey Drew
Wally the janitor finds a big chocolate cake sitting in a chair. Yet another Portal node. I bet there's more that I didn't realize, so comment below on more. Another cool Easter egg is the posters you see on the walls are fan art that they put in the game, along with music created by fans. This is a first for me to see such community involvement in a game outside of it being crowd funded.
This was definitely one of the better first person games I played this year. If you're looking for something different to play this holiday season, Bendy is a good 6-10 hours of gameplay with new tools and a bonus level to play after the first go around. I have it for my Nintendo Switch. So it's great for those night time road trips.