If you're after an indie horror game with simple mechanics, complicated lore, and a cool aesthetic, Bendy and the Ink Machine has got you covered. Enter a world of old-school animation and discover lots of secrets as you figure out how to escape from evil Bendy...
Five Nights at Freddy's spawned a big wave of indie horror games. Bendy and the Ink Machine is one of many games that emerged in the wake of FNAF's massive success. It's a two-man project that's stuffed full of jumpscares, complicated backstory, strong visual motifs, and simplified gameplay.
While this makes for great YouTube content, it's definitely not a game that you have to play yourself. In fact, Bendy and the Ink Machine is shorter than some reviews of the game. The game can be completed in well under two hours if you don't dawdle and significantly less than that if you have any idea what you're doing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing – it's a small indie game, after all – but it is indicative of an unsettling trend in horror games. More and more, horror games are becoming internet trends first and games second.
The most striking feature of Bendy and the Ink Machine is its visual design. Bendy and the Ink Machine is a game that's not quite in black and white. Instead of white, the game uses a sort of old, coffee-stained parchment to offset its inky blacks. This makes it resemble a very, very old cartoon. Think 1930's Mickey Mouse and you've got an idea of the look Bendy and the Ink Machine is going for.
Bendy and the Ink Machine was clearly inspired by Bioshock. Throughout the game, you wander around in a mysteriously inky world, listening to tapes and recollections from important figures who occupied this space before you. You play as Henry, one of the central figures involved in the creation of Bendy, and you encounter all sorts of cartoon people and villains as you explore.
Most of Bendy and the Ink Machine is exploration, although it can be difficult to classify it as such. Levels aren't quite small, but there's not a lot going on. They're not sparse, but there are a very small number of things you can interact with. The easy puzzles aren't “put a square peg in a square hole” as much as they are “put the only peg in the only hole.” The later puzzles aren't much harder. The game also has an in-game hint section, which is hardly necessary, but it ensures that you can't ever get stuck for very long.
Unlike many other horror games, Bendy and the Ink Machine has combat. When you play Bendy's combat, you'll immediately realize why those other games left combat out. In Bendy and the Ink Machine, you're a full on Master Cheif, complete with health regeneration and an all=powerful melee weapon that splatters any defeatable enemy in one or two hits. While it's possible to die in combat, you run faster than most enemies, so your regenerating health means that you always feel like the strongest thing in the room. Not only does it break your immersion, it's also not fun.
Bendy and the Ink Machine was host to a whole slew of technical problems at launch. While it's been updated a few times, it's still not the smoothest thing in the world. Expect weird bugs and glitches, and not just the intentional ones that are supposed to unnerve you.
Overall, Bendy and the Ink Machine's walking-simulator-esque gamplay combine with its dense lore to create a game that you might be better off watching rather than playing. While the game isn't super expensive, it's quite short, it suffers from performance issues, and it can feel like a chore to play. Consider picking this one up if you're an indie horror fan, but otherwise try to look up some gameplay videos before you purchase the game.
How To Play
When you're playing Bendy and the Ink Machine, it's important to figure out how to save. You can engage with the little punch card stands strewn throughout the environment to save. Creating checkpoints can be helpful, although the game isn't necessarily difficult.
When it comes to solving puzzles, Bendy and the Ink Machine is very linear. While earlier versions of the game had MacGuffins scattered across the map, this version of Bendy has everything you need concentrated in small areas. If you need something, wander around and keep your eyes peeled. It's almost certainly one or two rooms over – at most. If you can't find it, open the menu and use the hint button to reveal its location. Remember that items you can pick up glow and be sure to look for the telltale light.
As far as combat is concerned, Bendy and the Ink Machine has two types of enemies. One type is killable. You can whack these with your melee weapon (or your tommy gun) and watch them vanish. If you get hit, don't panic. Simply play defensively for a few seconds and your health will regnerate. If you're really in a tight spot, consider using some canned bacon to regenerate your health more quickly. You move faster than these enemies, so don't be afraid to just run away for a little bit.
The other type of enemies aren't killable. These include both Bendy and totally normal little enemies encountered when you don't have a weapon. You can't fight these enemies. Instead, you have to run. Look for little cubbies to hide in and try to make noise to distract your foes. You still run faster than the ink grunts, but Bendy is a small bit faster than you, so be sure to beeline for a safe space if he notices you – or just take an elevator. Or just quit the game and reload.
If you find yourself facing a boss, take your time and try to learn the boss's patterns. A couple of the game's bosses essentially kill themselves if you're patient enough, while another one reveals weak spots as it attacks. Remember, your health regenerates, so don't be afraid to go slow.
Are you a Bendy and the Ink Machine fan? How does it stack up to other horror games? Do you think you should play the game yourself, or is it okay to watch someone else play it? What do you think of the game's lore and the ending? Let us know in the comments below!