“Hey, do you want to review this game about a cartoon illustrator?”
“Sure!” I replied. Then I looked at the game’s description on its website.
“Bendy and the Ink Machine” is a first person puzzle action horror game that begins in the far days past of animation and ends in a very dark future.
“first person puzzle action horror game”
Hello everyone and welcome back to Boter Reviews Something. Where I sit down to a game I know nearly nothing about with a slight sense of dread that overcomes me as I play but somehow still leaves a smile on my face. Today in Goosebump Central: Bendy and the Ink Machine, Episode One.
I don’t do horror. The genre in film never interested me and with a single notable exception I never sought it out in games (that exception being F.E.A.R., which I love for its amazing AI and fun weapons, not the pants-pooping). I don’t handle jump scares well and yeah it’s not my thing. But man, those preview images look so good. And I said I’d do it, right?
I turned on my camera and started recording my gameplay, as I felt that the joy of seeing me get the poo scared out of me should be shared. Unfortunately I botched the setup so I wasn’t properly recording the game audio, but there are some pretty great reactions from my facecam. Maybe they can help enlighten you:
Sooo the game gets pretty intense. You start having been invited to the studio you used to work at 30 years prior by your old colleague. You arrive to find huge ink conduit pipes leaking everywhere, furniture in disarray, and other even more gruesome sights. You need to find a way to get out of the studio and get away from the weirdness that has befallen the place, the blame for which at least somewhat lies at the feet of your former colleague.
Truth be told I don’t want to get too into specifics for fear of spoiling the few moments there are. Not that the moments are few and far between, but just that it’s such a short game. So far just the first episode has been released; it took me twenty minutes on my first exploratory playthrough but a speedrunner could finish it in probably three. That time partially comes from the primary puzzle (which I don’t even want to reveal because even discovering what it was was something of a revelatory moment for me that felt wonderfully natural), but it also comes with exploring every inch of the studio – creepy or not. It’s a tightly focused environment with gorgeous atmosphere – a sepia art style that lets the game have its atmospheric dark corners without actually making it hard to see anything. I didn’t notice the music too much – not necessarily memorable, but it did do its job of thickening the atmosphere.
There are a few voiced lines by the protagonist, like, “Hey, my old desk,” but I found it odd that he didn’t comment on the feature that I glossed over a few paragraphs ago – huge ink conduit pipes leaking everywhere. When going with a voiced protagonist, it’s apparent that there’s something of a balance to be struck – say too much, they’re pointing out the obvious and seem like a simpleton, but don’t comment on the glaringly wrong and the same danger befalls you.
Bendy and the Ink Machine is absolutely worth looking up. You can pay what you want for the chapter, or support the developer on Patreon as they work on more episodes. The first is a quick taste, enough to get you hooked and ready for more. Here’s hoping more episodes continue to come out in a timely manner. Because I was left standing in front of a pentagram drawn in ink on the floor and I do not want to be standing there for any longer than I have to.
One episode so far and it is everything it needs to be. The protagonist voice is such a petty nitpick that I can’t dock for that; the game is super short but you can pay whatever you like for it so it’s not like you’ve lost anything if you blow through it quickly. Visuals, sounds, and gameplay all make for compelling atmosphere and I can not wait for more.
Bendy and the Ink Machine
Episodic release (Episode One reviewed)
Platform: PC (tested), Mac, Linux
Price: Pay What You Want
Developer: TheMeatly Games
Publisher: Game Jolt
Release Date: February 2017