Bendy and the Dark Revival Review
Bendy and the Dark Revival puts you in the role of Audrey, who works at an animation studio. One night while working late, you run into the building’s custodian. He asks for some help with a small task, and since no good deed goes unpunished your reward for your effort is to be sucked into a nightmare world. You find yourself in an animated version of the 1930s era Disneyesque Joey Drew Studios, rendered in the black and white (or rather black and manila yellow) thick lined style of the day. Joey Drew Studios was the home of Bendy, an animated devil with more than a passing resemblance to a certain cartoon mouse of the same era. This is not a happy place, though. Dark, corruptive ink is everywhere, coursing through the overhead pipework, spilling forth through ink station fountains, and pooling on the floors. The studios are now the domain of the Ink Demon and his ink monster minions. The ink has touched you as well, covering much of your body in its dark stain. You are not completely alone, though. A mysterious ally appears and informs you that to make your escape you must make your way up…
Bendy and the Dark Revival is a sequel to Bendy and the Ink Machine, but it’s not a continuation of the first game’s story. The Studios will be familiar from an aesthetic perspective to those who played the first game, and there are nods to the first game throughout Dark Revival, but the game stands on its own and no prior Bendy experience is required to understand the game.
Dark Revival plays like a first-person survival horror game. At first the game is entirely stealth-based – you’re weaponless and the ink creatures will quickly kill you if they see you. To avoid detection you can stay crouched and try to keep an object between you and the monsters, or you can take advantage of the numerous hiding places the game provides. Should you die, you’ll be revived at the nearest ink station without the need to do too much backtracking. Eventually you will obtain a weapon, a lead pipe, and you’ll be able to bludgeon the monsters into oblivion. All except for the Ink Demon, that is, if he’s nearby your only chance of survival is to quickly find the nearest hiding place. Shortly after you obtain the pipe you’ll gain your first ink power which will give you the ability to instantly kill monsters that you sneak up on from behind.
The game transitions from a stealth focus to more of a melee focus as you progress through the story. Your pipe is upgradeable with various spare parts scavenged from the studios once you find the proper blueprint, and you get more powerful as it does. The combat is pretty simple as the different monsters really only differ in their size and speed, and they all attack by coming straight towards you – you just mash them with the pipe until they collapse. It gets a bit tedious at times, and I was often more annoyed that they were delaying my pursuit of the current goal more than having fun bashing monsters.
The fights are made more challenging for a couple of the wrong reasons. First, bashing an ink monster sprays ink which obscures the edges of the screen, making you fight while looking through a porthole. You’re fighting black monsters on a black and yellow background with a black frame around the screen. The other issue is with the controls. Dark Revival first appeared on PC, and on Xbox it feels like a game that was designed to be played with a mouse. The controls have a little lag when you start and stop motion – picking up objects can be frustrating as you overshoot them back and forth a few times trying to land the cursor on them. There is a sensitivity adjustment in the controls menu, but I had the same issues on both ends of the scale. If you’ve played a PC game designed for mouse control ported straight to console before, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
The level objectives involve finding items or finding a way to unlock the path forward, which often involves locating and flipping a switch. This is made a little more challenging by the fact that there’s a certain sameness to a chunk of the levels. The lack of an in-game map makes it a challenge to find your way back to a location, especially after you’ve made your way through some twisting ventilation ducts or similar looking hallways. This inevitably leads to some time lost moving in circles or trying to reorient yourself when returning to continue the game.
It's hard not to notice Bioshock’s influence on Dark Revival. You play as an outsider trapped in the ruins of a world built by a driven and obsessed megalomaniac that has come apart at the seams and been overrun with monsters. Audio logs help you to piece together what led to the collapse, vending machines provide you with supplies as long as you have the coins, and you build up an arsenal of magic-like powers that emanate from your hands. However, Dark Revival’s story isn’t as expansive or twisting as Bioshock’s, and its story is more backloaded than it is a consistent narrative.
Dark Revival creates an interesting world and it has a unique art style, but the gameplay itself comes up short. While there are some imaginative locations and enjoyable moments, overall it’s the kind of game that you’ll play through more because you’re interested in how it all turns out than you are in the journey to get there.
Final Rating: 68% - It’s more the destination than it is the journey.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.