It has been a long wait for the much-anticipated follow-up to the first-person horror game, Bendy and the Ink Machine. Released in October 2018, the game was developed and published by Kindly Beast under the name of the game’s in-universe animation studio Joey Drew Studios Inc.
In it, players take on the role of Henry Stein, a retired animator who used to work for Joey Drew Studios. He gets an invitation from his old boss, Joey, to come to the studio to see something. However, when he arrives, he finds it transformed into a nightmarish place.
Seemingly abandoned, covered in ink and with monsters stalking the halls. All of this seems to be caused by the huge ink machine installed by Joey. That’s not all though as characters from the cartoons have been brought to life and something truly evil is in control. A demonic figure simply known as Bendy or the Ink Demon.
Imaginative vintage visuals, an ominous world to explore, frightening enemies, interesting puzzles, and plenty of action. Bendy and the Ink Machine excelled in a lot of areas and while it was far from perfect, it left an impression.
This sequel, Bendy and the Dark Revival also leaves an impression. Showcasing the sequel virtues of ‘bigger’ and ‘bolder’, but not quite hitting the ‘better’ mark.
Set a decade after the events of the first game, players step into the shoes of Audrey, an animator who works for Archgate Pictures; the company that took over Joey Drew Studios after its bankruptcy. While working late one night, she decides to get some coffee and runs into the mysterious janitor, Wilson. He leads her to a disused area of the studio, gets her to complete the ritual and, together, they are pulled into the Ink Machine.
Now, in the world of ink, Audrey discovers that Wilson is in control and is worshiped because he says that he killed the Ink Demon. Except he didn’t, it’s still on the loose. Both it and Wilson want Audrey to learn her purpose. A purpose that connects her to this world in ways she could never have imagined.
Taking the story from the first game, reshaping it, and expanding on the idea, Bendy and the Dark Revival is a much bigger game. Audrey is a good character to play as and finding out how she is connected to the Ink world is interesting. Having her partially taken over by the ink, which gives her special abilities, certainly makes her a different protagonist when compared to Henry from the first game.
However, the story doesn’t always make her the focal point and the mix of old and new characters are under-utilised. This means certain story beats are a bit messy and confusing in places, but it also means some of the expected impactful moments feel a little underwhelming.
Whereas the majority of the Bendy and the Ink Machine took place within the studio, this game spreads it much wider. Dark and ominous corridors, dilapidated streets, laboratories, an opulent mansion, train stations, and dirty sewers. This is a living and breathing world and exploring it is always fun. Even if there’s often not a lot to be done inside it.
It does look and sound wonderful though. The vintage visuals really pop on screen, although the frame-rate issues threaten to ruin a lot of it. With some character designs, in particular Audrey herself, looking amazing. Whereas the audio is haunting, threatening, and discombobulating throughout, and the voice acting is top notch. None more notable than the horrific voice of the Ink Demon itself.
Yes, once again, it stalks the halls and when it’s near, the only way to survive is to hide and wait until it leaves. Alas, while it does convey threat, it’s one of the more disappointing elements of the game. It’s arrival giving you a short amount of time to hide, and should you fail, it’s instant death. This gets old quick and doesn’t ever feel scary.
The same goes for the bland enemies you can fight and the ‘ghost’ jump-scares that just becomes more and more annoying, the more often it happens. It is the locations, visuals and sounds that make Bendy and the Dark Revival a creepy experience. Not the actual monsters, as it turns out.
Alongside these flaws, combat is extremely poor and is reliant on you spamming the attack button until the enemy falls. Even boss battles have very little imagination to them, nowhere more exemplified than by the final boss. Which feels extremely half-baked and kind of comes out of nowhere.
The frame-rate issue has already been mentioned, but alongside that, Bendy and the Dark Revival also has numerous glitches and bugs relating to just about everything. Nothing game-breaking but niggling issues you notice that just take away from the overall quality of the game. A real shame because it’s still a good game. A high-powered and ambitious sequel that builds on the Bendy universe in bigger and bolder ways.
Bendy and the Dark Revival (Xbox Series X)
The Final Score - 7/10