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The finale to a much-beloved indie series is out now – but is it all that fans hoped for and expected from this unusual title?

Wildly, and unexpectedly, successful, Bendy and the Ink Machine has gone from strength to strength from its 24-hour initial development window thanks to its unique premise, retro appearance, and all-round appealing style. But does Bendy’s Final Chapter quite live up to the hype?

What is Bendy and the Ink Machine?

Developers theMeatley and Mike Mood opted for an episodic approach when it came to the release of their much-anticipated horror title following the incredible, and wholly unexpected, success of Bendy’s first chapter, which received a release on steam without any fanfare – yet somehow quickly managed to capture the imagination of thousands, if not millions, of fans worldwide.

Flung into the spotlight, the co-creators of Bendy and the Ink Machine quickly got to work creating multiple following chapters to tell the full story of Bendy, with each chapter proving more successful than the next thanks to its unique premise and appealing design.

Styled after 1950s-era cartoons, and falling somewhere between Fleischer and Disney on the kitsch scale, the story of Bendy and the Ink Machine is, in a way, more about the machine than Bendy himself – a machine that brings the creations of Joey Drew Studios to life in horrific ways.

You play the hapless and quite confused Henry Stein, a retired animator who notably created the lovable devil character, Bendy, prior to leaving the studio you find yourself returning to. Your mission is to explore the twisted, warped world created by Joey Drew, and discover the horrors of the Ink Machine for yourself, with plenty of jump scares and stealthy-hidey sections along the way.

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What does The Last Reel bring to Bendy?

Arguably, and much-debated amongst fan groups, Bendy and the Ink Machine’s previous chapter, titled Colossal Wonders, is the most sophisticated and well-designed Bendy chapter to date, and involved a major overhaul of previous chapters in order to create some sometimes-needed polish to the title as a whole.

Following on from such an exceptional addition, complete with some very intriguing lore and the introduction to some interesting characters, was going to be a difficult task to pull off – and unfortunately, for the first time, it feels like the team behind Bendy fell short.

While it’s clear the developers have worked hard on adding that extra bit of shine to the chapter, it also feels a little on the rushed and repetitive side, with some distinctly un-Bendy-ish segments included that simply feel put there for the sake of extending gameplay, as well as some less-than-optimised areas that were badly in need of a patch (or a better computer) for an FPS higher than 5 or so.

For fans more used to quietly gathering intel, stealthing around areas and learning more about the world of Bendy, The Last Reel sweeps all those features under the carpet, except in a few short segments, in favour of a slightly confusing arena fighting scenario, and an incredibly laggy ‘berserker’ environment-based boss battle towards the very end.

For any other title, this kind of gameplay would be expected, if not particularly enjoyed, but for a chapter in the Bendy series it feels an awful lot like filler for a series that has always been anything but – something countless YouTube theories and online discussions have more than proven.

What continues to be a selling point for Bendy, and always a delight, is the usual attention to detail taken in everything from each character design to individual fan-made posters and excellent voice acting. If you’re talking in style points, The Last Reel continues the series’ overall trend of being beautiful to look at – if not as enjoyable to play.

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Should you buy The Last Reel?

As the final part of the Bendy series, putting a close to the title as a whole, The Last Reel is certainly something you should invest in to add some closure to your playthrough; and for those waiting to buy the chapters as one complete game, The Last Reel will, of course, be included.

However, as a standalone chapter to the Bendy saga – especially if you consider these ‘chapters’ as similar to those offered by AAA developers of late – The Last Reel really doesn’t stand up to the quality of story and style of gameplay you’d expect from the series as a whole.

While there are some small segments that stand out as great additions to the lore and that round off the story as a whole, all in all, the conclusion to one of my favourite series leaves me feeling more than a little disappointed, especially in relation to the ending that seems to render the whole title as meaningless – in a way that’s been done before in other game series, and no longer feels clever.

Taken as a part of the complete series, while The Last Reel isn’t what I would have wanted from a conclusion to Bendy and the Ink Machine, it does over a conclusive ending to the game as a whole, making it less of a frustrating experience for those looking to try the title, especially if you aren’t a fan of waiting for the next part of a game to be released.

4.0

Author's rating

Overall rating

Graphics
8.0
Gameplay
4.0
Story
3.0
The good
  • A continuation of the beautiful artwork that comes with every Bendy chapter
  • More voice acting and character involvement than previous chapters, albeit in superficial ways
  • A finale to an overall excellent series that is sure to continue to be a fan favourite
The bad
  • A disappointing end to the legacy of the Bendy series with a fairly generic finale
  • Expected stealth and investigation gameplay is sacrificed for combat-based segments
  • Terrible FPS issues on release, with certain boss areas rendered unplayable
About author
Harriet

Harriet Swartout-Phipson

Creative Digital Copywriter by day, Indie game fan by night. Give me a rogue-like, simulator or RPG to play and I'm happy.

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