As luck would have it, May’s Humble Choice includes Bendy and the Dark Revival, which is a game that I picked up on Steam a few months ago.
Bendy and the Dark Revival is a stylish first-person spooky game. I bought it mainly on the strength of the funny-sounding title and the screenshots. I was playing Resident Evil games at the time, and it promised to be another game in the survival horror genre, and it had decent Steam reviews, so I gave it a try.
I don’t particularly like writing anything resembling a game review, so I’m not sure why I keep volunteering to do these. Almost all of my game reviews, from tiny indie games to AAA blockbusters, can be summarized in one phrase: “It was okay.” There are so many games coming out every year now that almost none of them stand out as anything but average, and this is another one of those games.
It was okay.
It’s billed as a horror game, but I didn’t find it the slightest bit scary. I have a pretty high tolerance for horror, though, so your mileage may vary. There’s a lot of darkness and some jump scares and creepy situations, but none of it felt “real” to me.
One sub-game I like to play when I look at a new game is to guess which older game inspired the developers of the new game. There are so few original ideas in gaming anymore that you can almost always trace the ancestry of every new game back to a handful of original games from the late 90s or early 00s that inspired it.
If I were to pick the game that Bendy is most descended from, it would have to be BioShock. I didn’t find BioShock very scary either, but I’ve heard many others describe it as such.
(Incidentally, BioShock is descended from Half-Life, which is descended from Quake, which is descended from Doom, which is descended from Wolfenstein 3D, which is loosely descended from a million Maze games. A fun project someday would be to build a Family Tree of Every Game Ever, and find the Adam and Eve of Every Game. It would probably be something like prehistoric people playing with sticks and rocks.)
Back to Bendy: It has an interesting art style, being made to look as if you’ve been pulled into a classic Disney-esque hand-drawn world. There’s a lot of environmental storytelling–a lot of posters on the walls to look at, and letters on desks to read, and audiologs to listen to. There’s some NPCs to talk to; some friendly, some not so much.
Dark Revival is supposed to be a sequel to a game called Bendy and the Ink Machine, which I haven’t played. Dark Revival seems to stand alone fairly well, though, but there isn’t much explanation in the beginning for why this weird cartoon world exists. There’s a vague sense that something happened before but it doesn’t really matter. There isn’t much of a story to follow anyway: You’re an animator who gets stuck in a cartoon world you have to escape, and it’s populated with strange creatures and people, and that’s about it. The worldbuilding seems irrelevant to the game.
In the cons department, I found the pacing of the game very slow. I only managed to play for about an hour and a half before writing this, during which the main gameplay activity was holding down the “forward” key. Occasionally I had to activate a switch or hide from an enemy. It wasn’t until the end of that time that I picked up a BioShock-style pipe wrench (oddly called a “Gent pipe”) with which to defend myself.
I was determined to play a third game session to try to get my play time up over two hours before closing the book on this blog post, but I just couldn’t summon the motivation to do it. There’s so many other games to play and things to do and not that much time to do them in. Perhaps Bendy and the Dark Revival will be the game you’ve been waiting for, but it’s not the game for me.
If you haven’t played BioShock, it’s one of the seminal works in video game history. Bendy and the Dark Revival, however… it’s a valiant effort in the complex and thankless work of assembling video game assets together and publishing them, but it doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression other than: “It was okay.”