Bendy and the Dark Revival (PC) Review

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Bendy and the Dark Revival

Bendy and the Dark Revival isn’t exactly a Disney fan’s trip to California. But this survival horror romp pulls players deeper into a fascinating, yet terrifying dystopia made by Joey Drew Studios. The game shows plenty of polish behind its vintage black and white aesthetic, but borrows too many familiar survival horror mechanics from other games before. Along that effort of standing out, Bendy and the Dark Revival starts to grow stale from piecemealing common game tropes and missing a few strokes with its special brush. 

A sequel to 2017’s Bendy and the Ink Machine, players are once again dragged into a Disney artist’s hypothetical idea of hell. Bendy and the Dark Revival plays on its strengths of setting by doubling down on world building. Players won’t actually need to play much of the first game to catch up with Joey Drew’s sequel. Here, Bendy and the Dark Revival sets its sights on Audrey, a cartoon designer at the metafictional Joey Drew Studios and accidentally opens a gateway into an ink-filled world that’s seen better days. 

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Without spoilers, players take on a BioShock-like journey where they explore Joey Drew Studios inhabited by the now-alive cartoon creations. Audrey slowly uncovers her purpose while finding a way out of the nightmare. It’s a typical horror plot leveraged by Bendy and the Dark Revival’s excellent interpretation of what happens when cartoon characters are left unkempt and homicidal for decades. 

Bendy and the Dark Revival nails an atmosphere for feeling isolated in a vintage nightmare. There are just enough ink enemies and an impressive musical score to shake the fear of Walt Disney into players. In random moments, players will be attacked by some of the most unexpected enemies and won’t always feel safe in Bendy. Joey Drew Studios tries a bit too hard to be Rapture without the variety of level design and biomes. Players will be walking through a familiar brand of corridors with the same lockers, cabinets and animation tables scattered throughout.  

Bendy and the Dark Revival nails an atmosphere for feeling isolated in a vintage nightmare.”

The game starts to stumble at a lack of range to bring out Bendy’s scale as intended. Simply put, the game’s levels are woven with different puzzle pieces with the same picture. Bendy only really opens up and pays tribute to BioShock near the end when the story allows it. By then, players might have grown tired of any new surprises. There are just a few supernatural abilities—including a teleport and stealth-kill—to evoke more BioShock than before. 

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Bendy and the Dark Revival’s first person roots work for some occasional frights upfront. The game does plenty to keep players on their toes as they scrounge for supplies, backtrack after collecting key items and beat the occasional enemy. It’s pretty cut and dry for a survival horror game that’s skimping on action. As Joey Drew Studios tries to evoke BioShock, it loses some flavour for players who want more excitement in a world that should have more of it to offer.  

Players are hunkered down by the basics for six hours: respawn, backtrack, scavenge, bludgeon, repeat. On regular difficulty, Bendy still plays it too safe by letting players respawn in different ink stations. After the first few deaths from being overwhelmed by ink monsters, players realise the real threat is losing a few seconds respawning and catching up to the latest checkpoint. 

“The ink monsters in Bendy and the Dark Revival quickly lose any semblance of dread after the first chapter.”

Like its predecessor, the game gives players a fighting chance through combat. Bendy and the Dark Revival is full of corrupted ink monsters out to get Audrey. Here, players are given the Gent Pipe to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, upgrading the thing can be a slow burn and I couldn’t use it to its full potential by the last chapter. It makes less of a difference knowing players only have the pipe and the pipe alone.  

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Joey Drew Studios fumbles the combat by offering little to no variation to it. Players simply mash the trigger at enemies until they all fall down. Where BioShock took advantage of its setting for exciting first person shooting encounters, Bendy offers the bare minimum in combat. Boss battles are also reduced to a slugfest, save for its final one that requires a bit of thinking with Bendy’s basic mechanics. 

Enemies are as bland as they come. The ink monsters in Bendy and the Dark Revival quickly lose any semblance of dread after the first chapter. Early on, players get a strong impression as they hide and keep their distance with stealth. But after getting the Gent Pipe, the common enemy types feel like shiny punching bags. The occasional unique characters will appear with a scream or feral attempt to whittle away at a player’s health, but that’s as menacing as Bendy’s enemies get.  

Bendy and the Dark Revival isn’t just a vast improvement on The Ink Machine, but Joey Drew Studios goes out of their way to deliver a bigger and bolder sequel.”

Bendy and the Dark Revival brings back the Ink Demon, who serves as a looming presence and insta-kill if players can’t find a hiding spot in time. It’s one of the few standouts that remind players they’re never safe in one place. However, hiding spots are plenty and the Ink Demon turns into a chore for players who’ve seen him one too many times. 

Bendy and the Dark Revival’s real meat comes with its incredibly deep world building. Players are hooked the moment they sink into a room full of ink and into Joey Drew Studios. It captures BioShock’s essence by scattering well-acted audio logs to tell the history of Joey Drew and his flawed media empire. Of course, Drew’s hypocrisy is told through countless animators, boiler room lads and associates all vying to expose him and the secrets of a mysterious Ink Machine. I enjoyed tucking into each of the collectible recordings as I checked out a new wing of the studio.  

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While Bendy continues to exercise its ability to add more horrifying new details that might sink in harder than players expect. Though The Ink Machine did plenty to instill dread and questions, the sequel does fans justice and answers all of them. The game doesn’t leave anything to chance by the end, but goes a bit off the rails in a bombastic conclusion to the two games. 

Bendy and the Dark Revival isn’t just a vast improvement on The Ink Machine, but Joey Drew Studios goes out of their way to deliver a bigger and bolder sequel. It packs a bit more action, puzzles and depth to keep players immersed. But the game starts to feel bland by hunkering down to basic survival horror gameplay that doesn’t excite players much. It’s hardly the worst six-hour experience thanks to some incredible world building to keep players and returning fans invested. 

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE
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