I played through Bendy and the Ink Machine this month. This is a nice indie game with a retro aesthetic.
I will be covering some spoilers here, so don’t read on if you don’t want anything spoiled.
For me, gameplay over all was fun and entertaining. There was a combination of puzzles, action fighting, and scary-monster hiding.
Henry, the character you play, loses his weapon often. So gameplay transitions between puzzle solving, stealth, and fighting. I think this kept game play fresh and enemies interesting.
With that said, there were some moments that didn’t feel so good.
I played on the Switch, which was mostly fine, but there were some moments that it felt like mouse and keyboard were more appropriate. In particular, the corrupt Boris fight was hard because I couldn’t grab the ink globs fast enough and the second phase of the fight where Boris leap-attacks you if you are too far away was pretty unforgiving.
The last chapter, The Last Reel, was rough and in some ways disappointing to me.
Coming from the Boris fight, the experience was taking a bad turn because the gameplay didn’t feel fair. More specifically, the Switch controls didn’t seem to be working for me. (I’m primarily a PC gamer, so maybe that explains a bit too)
Clearing blobs from the wheel of the paddlewheel was a neat mechanic, but unforgiving if you don’t work quickly. Again, with the Switch controls, this was rough. If I spent too much time trying to aim for the control that makes the paddlewheel move forward, I would die.
After the paddlewheel, the onslaught of searchers, lost ones, and Sammy were a bit frustrating because it was too easy to die. I was unable to attack without getting hit. It’s possible my timing was just bad, but I think I was probably suppose to attack, turn around, and run away before the enemy attacked, which was too much on the Switch.
After this, there was the administration offices. I had to dodge the Butcher gang while retrieving blobs to create three pipes. This was a simple stealth sequence. I was tempted to cheese it by just running through the level, but instead I took my time to properly avoid the baddies.
In the last boss fight, against evil Bendy, there are two sequences. The first involves flipping on multiple power switches while Bendy charges across the pathways from wall to wall. I died A LOT during this phase because I couldn’t see what direction Bendy was coming from. The flipped switches kept their state after death, which made death during this sequence pretty inconsequential. Again, I think this is because of Switch controls. I believe I was suppose to be rapidly searching for what wall Bendy would be entering from.
In the second phase, you trick Bendy into charging into some ink pipes. This felt better and more under control.
Bendy and the Ink Machine has a pretty fascinating and in-depth story. You play as Henry, a form employee of an animation studio.
Something obviously went awry and as you progress you move deeper and deeper into the madness of the business owner, Dewie.
You learn about what happened to the studio through audio recordings, which are very Bioshock-esque.
What happened to the employees is very dark. It very much symbolizes a heartless corporate entity sucking the soul from its employees.
I really enjoyed the story and characters.
With that said, there was a lot to take in and I was left pretty confused by some plot points and pretty lost by the ending. In time I will probably understand.
The plot-twist after corrupt Boris still has me confused with there being two Alices. Through the audio logs you find that there were two voice-actresses of Alice. Is the evil Alice the first voice actress?
The model of Alice also doesn’t match the imagery you see before and is different from the other character’s aesthetic. I haven’t seen/heard anyone point that out, so maybe I’m wrong there.
The ending is the most confusing, especially with the later reveal that there is a sequel coming up.
Was the story of Bendy and the Ink Machine not real and just a story told by Dewie that symbolized the guild and regret of his crooked business dealings?
I can appreciate that take. Though it feels like there was a lot of loose ends left.
So despite my criticism and poor experience with gameplay on the Switch, this game was well made and a worthwhile experience. Gameplay was challenging and kept itself fresh.
There are couple Youtube videos covering the Bendy story by The Game Theorist. I recommend checking them out if you are interested in the story.
And then this one re-evaluates the story content after the second Bendy game is announced.