Bendy and the Dark Revival Humble Choice

Review: Bendy and the Dark Revival

Should I have spent a bit more time learning exactly what I was getting into when I agreed to check out Bendy and the Dark Revival? Yes, I think I probably should have done just that because here I was thinking that the latest from Joey Drew Studios might have more in common with Cuphead than Five Nights at Freddy’s. While that onus is on me, I’m now taking the time to tell you that while there are elements of Bendy that may likely have your kids interested, it is definitely an experience I’d wager just might not be for them.

This, of course, is a follow-up to 2018’s Bendy and the Ink Machine and continues the story of protagonist Audrey, an animator who works at Archgate Pictures before coming upon a mysterious ritual that opens a portal to familiar but twisted within Joey Drew Studios after working late one night. Here an ink demon rules with an iron fist, and it’s up to Audrey herself to discover the mystery of why she’s caught up in this world. Using a first-person perspective, the developers rely on several familiar mechanics including exploration, stealth, and puzzles in a surprising setting inspired by early Disney history.

Bendy’s Got A Dark Secret

I’m immediately reminded of BioShock’s incredible environment after spending several hours within Joey Drew Studios. Like Rapture, the studio features familiar art deco elements tinged with horror elements to twist the familiar sights and sounds just enough to be terrifying to a degree. With so much of this warped world covered in demonic ink, there is an inescapable and haunting sense of dread this world brings with it but at the cost of less-than-impressive gameplay elements.

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You can sneak around in stealth mode and kill enemies with a single strike, essentially spamming melee attacks until the enemies disappear. With your trusty Gent Pipe — a weapon from the original Bendy and the Ink Machine, you’ll be able to deal with the enemies that appear throughout the campaign but this is an area where the experience falters due to the uninspired mechanics. Audrey’s two main tools of survival are stealth or combat but there is a distinct lack of depth that makes either tool a bit of drag to use the more you play the campaign.

And while combat is my preferred method of dealing with enemies, stealth kills require far too much effort and patience from the player – it’s much easier to take down enemies by spamming melee swings over any other choice. Furthermore, while the Gent Pipe can be upgraded and charged attacks unlocked, you need to ensure you head back to the workbench to recharge it before being able to use it again.

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The vending machines scattered throughout the various levels are ready to sell important items with food to replenish your health. Dying in the world of Bendy and the Dark Revival isn’t anything special, though. If killed by regular enemies, Audrey is simply revived in the nearest ink pool. It really has no consequence and that seems counter to the events happening on screen.

The thing is the Ink Lord appears at random and you have a few seconds to find cover and hide. However, often the demon catches Audrey in a corridor or room with no shelter, and when the black and white screen starts to shake, it’s impossible to figure out where to run to escape. You die, you load your previous save and face the demon (possibly) again. It seems that the various ink stations spread across this world lead there to be less than dire stakes with the exception of some time lost returning to where you were last.

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An inkling of dread

Certainly, the new installment of Bendy has made a notable leap forward in the five years since the release of Bendy and the Ink Machine, but it’s still not enough as there are a few instances and mechanics that leave prevent this experience from being elevated. Bendy and the Dark Revival tries to offer something bigger than it is but ultimately it is held back by its budget, but tedious enemies, an annoying, unkillable monster stalker and imprudent stealth sections make it primarily a follow-up that fans of the original may clamour for over newcomers that might be curious.

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On another note, it’s worth noting that Bendy and the Dark Revival has some incredible art direction and oozes the atmosphere while pulling clear inspiration from a bygone era of the animation world. All of this works well when combined with a tangled and mysterious story that noticeably bogs down until the final chapter, which is where the BioShock influence is the most inspired and unfortunately, at a point where most players are ready to call it a day.

Where this follow-up excels is in its incredibly detailed world-building that I was enticed throughout my playthrough to learn more about. There are audio logs spread across Joey Drew Studios that elevate the situation far better than the combat elements could ever do. It is clear there were many skeletons in the closet that further paint Joey Drew as a sycophant to dark forces.

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Verdict

Bendy and the Dark Revival shows a lot of potential with interesting world-building but is held back by some dull gameplay mechanics. Despite several constraints, there is an interesting series here that has a lot of potential within it, but it needs to find its identity and figure out what it wants to be. Fans of the original will see a better follow-up than Bendy and the Ink Machine and newcomers will have a short campaign in front of them that doesn’t overstay its welcome in the slightest.

Recommended

[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Bendy and the Dark Revival Humble Choice
Summary
Liked
A dark and often off-putting world to explore
Incredible world building through audio logs
Didn't Like
The combat is bland and repetitive
Budget constraints means the experience hits a snag