As I wander through the door to the old studio I feel that wave of nostalgia hit me, I gaze around at what was once my proud workplace and look for anyone that might be around. Joey had told me he wanted to see me now I was back in town, said to drop by the studio when I was free. I have to admit the place looked a bit more rundown than I remembered but at least Bendy was still here to keep me company. Although. I’d soon regret that he was. Bendy and the Ink machine was a game I must admit had flown totally under my radar right up until release when my other half had said I should give this a bash, Horror games aren’t usually my deal because I’m a massive coward but after Outlast 2 earlier this week I felt I wanted to give a few more a shot. By the time I got to it the YouTube community had already sank their high profile teeth into it with a lot of big names playing through the first chapter so this is a little late to the party but still. Developed and published by The Meatly Games this small game hit the steam marketplace on the 27th April and was surprisingly Free! Now to put this into perspective, the following chapter also released on the same day was £5.99 but frankly if it’s like this I’d pay that for it.
The game follows the adventures of Henry the player character as he is invited back to his old stomping ground Joey drew animation studios. Upon arrival though and despite a written invitation by your friend and former employer Joey Drew you arrive to an empty and pretty run down studio. Proceeding into the studio you start a journey to uncover what exactly has been occurring at the studio while you’ve been gone and where exactly is Joey Drew? Now the first thing I have to admit about this game is that it’s short. PAINFULLY short, I beat the game in about half an hour and that’s because it took me a while to find something. During chapter one you’ll really be trying to set the stage for the games mains story of the overall game which I imagine we will see more of in chapter 2 and for which I’ll cover when I get the chance 😃! for the story of the first chapter though it’s alright I guess. There is not a lot going on in it which I can see why they would do that, they give you a taste with the first chapter and it draws you into the second and so on but I’d have liked to have seen a bit more meat on these bones at the start!
Much like the story to the game the actual game play on show in the first chapter is lacking. Saying that, the game does use its brief window to introduce the core mechanics of the game well enough and there are a few good mechanics in here. Starting with the basics you are going to be doing a lot of item collection in this game by the look of things. The core game play in the first chapter is the location of six unique items that you need to turn the ink flow back on to jump start the ink press. These items are all scattered around the starting area and are semi easy to find (I did struggle with the vinyl but that’s because I’m rubbish 😃) as you search for these items you’ll get a good look at the environment you’re in and come across the other mechanics such as collecting an audio log that’s located in the area, coming across points of interest, one or two jump scare mechanics and even a little bit of combat mechanics at the very end of the chapter. I’m hoping for there to be more mechanics on show in the further chapters but for now these all seem enough to keep the game going at a good enough pace. Movement for me seemed a little bit slow before I realised that there was a sprint button assigned to left shift which does come in handy later on. The game is labelled as a horror game but this first chapter doesn’t really do anything that’s close to horror until the very end when the game shows its true colours. I suppose the first chapter is just to set the games atmosphere. I did feel a little tense playing this because I was expecting horror and the few jump scares that are present did catch me as a result which I liked. The game also has a more gore related horror moment in the first chapter which I felt was a nice touch and really set the mood for me. Overall the game play for what it is, is very solid. There aren’t many technical flaws to it but there isn’t a lot of it so far so that’s a real need to address in further chapters.
Now. to the real appeal off this game. Its art style. The game takes HUGE influence from the old days of Disney and the like. Steamboat Willie is a huge influence right from the offset here and I love it. The world is styled to look like the old cartoons with everything taking that yellowish nicotine stained tint with thick black outlines for everything from the walls to the floors to the finer details. Everything also has a very hand drawn look to it, the kind of hand drawn look you would expect from a rough draft of a character, under the heavy outlines and especially in the finer details its really prominent and given the setting of the animation studio I think this really adds to the feel of the game. Now certain things are seen in a different style to this as you progress. Once you finally get it the hand axe has a more modern styling and is coloured. This is really an odd duckling to the rest of the items you come across in chapter one though. As you wander through the studio the art style melds very well with the shadows and the games lighting which have both been done very well to create that really eerie atmosphere. Sometimes it even makes it feel a little claustrophobic and I was afraid to go into some corners because the art style made it look far less welcoming than it was.
Overall for a free introduction I was impressed by chapter one for Bendy and the Ink Machine. OK, it is annoyingly super short at around 20-30 minutes on a normal play through and it doesn’t have you do a whole lot but as an introduction to the games world, style and even the start of the story I think it was well worth the time to sit through it. I REALLY hope that further chapters are longer and have more meat to them than this starter but at £5.99 for the next chapter even if it is fairly short, if it continues this way id reasonably pay for that to see where this goes. On the final note. when you do see him Bendy is creepy as hell. I outran Usain Bolt away from that thing!