Is Inked Bendy really evil or just a mindless product of Joey's experiments with the occult?
Did Joey really write to you to catch up on old times, and did he direct Henry to go to the studio to get into trouble, or was he hoping Henry would put a stop to his ink creations as his final audiotape implies?
Henry knows how to fix and turn on the ink machine, but he's shocked on seeing vivisected Boris. How much exactly does Henry know?
Did Henry leave thirty years ago willingly, did he strike, or was he fired or drafted? If the breakup was less than amicable, does Henry feel there's enough water under the bridge, or does he want closure from Joey?
The cartoon characters themselves have different interpretations in regards to their relationships with each other. Chapter Two, for example, introduces us to Alice Angel via posters, and two popular interpretations of her so far are that she was either the "Minnie" to Bendy's "Mickey", or she was Bendy's rival for the spotlight.
The ink monsters. Considering that Sammy seems almost made of ink in episode two... are theseformer employees?Chapter 5 later all-but-says this, with one of the secret messages on the walls: "Once People, Now Fallen Into Despair".
Alice Angel/Susie Campbell. Was Susie forced to assimilate with Alice and become a monstrous toon-human hybrid, or did she do so willingly after she was replaced by a different voice actress that Joey liked better, to become the "true" Alice? Was Susie twisted into her current state because she was fired from the role of Alice and turned evil, or did combining with Alice drive her insane and murderous? When she claims "I had to do it. She made me", who is really saying that — Alice or Susie? And are the two still separate and self-aware personalities in the same body? It would explain Alice's mood swings between murderous and outrage, and what sounds like fear and despair.
With Susie's menacing tape in Chapter Four, one might say it's actually Alice who's despairing and the one who's good, but Susie is the evil one here, drawn and driven insane by the ink.
Towards the end of chapter three, listen closely, and you might hear "Alice" sob slightly before laughing manically and causing the elevator to fall. Could there have been a battle for control that the good personality lost in the end?
Who is Linda? Clearly she's someone important to Henry, likely a family member, but whether or not she's his wife, sister or daughter is hotly debated amounst the fandom. DCTL confirms her to be his wife.
Chapter 5 leads to several of these. The possibility that Henry is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop in particular brings a lot into question.
Did Joey intentionally trap Henry in the loop? If so, why? Is he trying to fix everything he helped cause or is he trying to come up with a perfect story at his best friend's expense? Does he have reality warping powers, as hinted at with the storyboards that can be found in his house? The storyboards support this interpretation, as there's one depicting a "Bendy Wins" scenario involving the "The End" reel, among others.
How aware is any given Henry of the loop? Is this the reason for his Dull Surprise? Does he forget every time a new loop starts? There must have been at least one loop where he realized what was happening, hence all the secret writing in Chapter 5 and during a new game +.
How in control is Henry of his own actions? For that matter, how in control is Bendy? Is he really evil, or is he being forced to play the villain?
Joey has a letter from Allison Pendle-Connor and Thomas Connor, confirming they're alive. Is it a forgery? Were they turned into toons after it was written? If not, then who in the world are the good Alice Angel and the Tom-Boris?
Is the studio and the Ink Machine itself even real? During The Stingeran Ink Machine can be seen in Joey's house. During what we presume to be a flashback, Henry transitions from opening a door in Joey's house to entering the studio. Is Joey's house made Bigger on the Inside by the Ink Machine he has hidden within? Is the studio and its Ink Machine false and really just a warped room within Joey's home, created by the "true" Ink Machine? If not, then why on Earth does Joey have an Ink Machine within his own home in the first place?
As with at the start of the game, is Bendy evil? As the above interpretation of Joey indicates, he may not even be in control of his actions.
If he IS evil, then was he driven insane from forced isolation? Audio logs in this chapter indicate that upon his creation, he never did anything to hurt anyone, just wander around aimlessly and creep people out. ...Then Joey apparently had him locked up out of fear of bad PR for who knows how long somewhere in the studio. Going further, did his apparent lack of a soul help lead to him becoming the monster we fear throughout the game, or did it just mean he was an empty vessel? Does he even actually lack a soul, or was that just a theory made by Thomas Connor to explain to Joey why he came out off-model?
Does Bendy want Henry's human soul, or his creator to otherwise complete him?
How involved was Thomas Connor in Joey's misdeeds? The only thing we know for sure is that he was aware of Bendy's existance, likely even being there when he was "born."
During Bendy's death he reaches out to Henry. Was it one last attempt to kill the man, or was he scared and looking for comfort from his creator?
Who was the little girl that was talking to Joey during The Stinger?
There's several instances throughout the game where Bendy has opportunity to kill Henry, but doesn't. He even saves Henry at one point. Add the jumps scares he commits throughout the game and one has to wonder if he was even really out to get Henry, or if he was just trying to scare the man off to prevent him from using "The End" against him, only resorting to violence when Henry had the reel in his hands. Alternatively, if you go with the implication that Joey is controlling everything, then is it all an in-universe example of Joey doing an Ass Pull to keep the story going?
Is the Henry we play as even the real Henry Stein, or is he another creation of Joey, meant to play the hero? Doesn't help that we never get to see his face.
Ass Pull: There's several points throughout the game where Bendy could have killed Henry, but doesn't. Even saving him at one point and staring right at him while the man is crawling through the vents. This may in fact be an in-universe example, depending on how you interpret the ending.
Broken Base: Jacksepticeye's voice cameo in Chapter 3. Depending on who you ask, it's either an innocent cameo meant to expand Jack's voice actor portfolio and provide theMeatly with a fitting voice for a certain role or a shameless attempt at pandering to Let's Players and a sign that the game is devolving into nothing more than YouTube fodder.
Catharsis Factor: Allison!Alice killing Susie!Alice when the latter was about to murder a grieving Henry. Susie totally deserved it after yanking around Henry's chain for two chapters, then kidnapping and brainwashing Boris.
Sammy Lawrence's terrifying insanity and evil is what makes him memorable, not to mention his tendency to call Henry his "little sheep".
"Bendy" is a creepy ink monster with a disturbing smile and heavy evil implications. He is beloved by the fanbase for it.
"Alice Angel", whose nightmarish actions and human mentality give her a unique edge due that leaves her more disturbing than the other villains.
Crossover Ship: There are some people shipping Bendy with Spinel due to both being a homage to 30's animation and being abandoned by their creator.
Disappointing Last Level: A number of fans have found "The Last Reel" rather sloppy, mainly due to still failing to address the flaws of previous chapters (almost all of which were patched to heavily downplay or streamline said elements), namely the frequent backtracking, strange emphasis on the awkward combat of the game, along with the generally disliked fetch quests. Not helping matters is that the game ends almost abruptly with a number of questions still unanswered, with the answers given being confusing at best.
Wally Franks might count as one. Mostly because his audio logs come off as a welcomed comic relief in every chapter.
Thomas Connor, due to the fact that despite only being contracted to work for Joey Drew Studios, he's easily the most stable employee, and seems to be one of the only people to not take Joey Drew's antics. This combined with the fact that he was only one smart enough to try to get out when he could led to people relating to him quite a bit.
Evil Is Cool: Sammy Lawrence and "Bendy" are easily fan-favorites thanks to their cool, unique, and threatening designs.
Fan artists usually depict Bendy and Boris with a pointy devil's tail and a wolf's tail respectively, even though they're canonically tailless. On the same note, the wingless Alice Angel is often given angel wings in fan art.
It was revealed by theMeatly in his Q & A video that while his original Bendy design didn't feature a tail, the copious amount of fanart to feature a tail lead to him considering it a possibility.
Thanks to some of the custom music videos, it's also common to see Bendy using a real world L pipe as a cane to dance with.
It's extremely common in fanwork to depict toon Bendy melting or oozing ink when very emotional or stressed. A rarer variation is Bendy being able to switch between a stable 3D version of his 2D appearance and his Inked form, seemingly at will.
Despite apparently being rivals in the cartoons, Bendy and Boris are usually depicted as being best friends. This is most likely because there are currently few characters for Bendy to properly interact with, outside of Boris and Alice Angel. While it is possible that Bendy was responsible for gutting Boris in the game and it turns out he's actually not, most fanart and fanfiction pre-Chapter 3 depict Joey as the culprit, with Bendy either trying to avenge him or bring him back to life.
It's pretty common in fanwork to depict Bendy's voice having a brooklyn accent, this is possibly because of his trickster depictions in fanworks and the Bendy cartoons reminding people of a more well known trickster toon.
Due to the time period and the pressure Joey Drew puts on them, it's common for fans to depict several of the studio workers as smokers. Particularly Thomas Connor, presumably because of his deep and scratchy voice.
Fanwork-Only Fans: Much like Five Nights at Freddy's, a good part of the fanbase has never played the game and is only aware of it due to the fan content, like theories, fanfiction and in this case especially, the fan songs. Even people who dislike the game itself tend to enjoy the tunes the fanbase produces.
With Cuphead, since both games have an old-timey cartoon aesthetic. According to Fanon, however, the titular characters don't seem to get along well. For sort of obvious reasons.
As for the horror side, it's friendly with the Five Nights at Freddy's, Tattletail, and Hello Neighbor fandoms. The latter especially, to the point the antagonist showed up in a Halloween update for the game, replacing Sammy and Inked Bendy, while Hello Neighbor got a Bendy-themed official mod for those who pre-purchased the game.
Due to both games having an emphasis on ink as well as being a Darker and Edgier take on classic cartoons, the game has caused a renewed interest in Epic Mickey.
Crossover fanart depicting Bendy with Impmon is also quite popular.
Someone on tumblr started an au where all the old timey cartoons co-exist called "Bendy and Boris: the Quest for the Ink Machine". The tumblr is called thebbros.
Good Bad Bugs: During Boris' boss fight originally had the cars he threw fall to pieces before they even left his hands, making the third phase nearly impossible to lose.
Harsher in Hindsight: One of the major aspects of the game's narrative is how Joey's poor business sense inadvertently damaged a bunch of people's livelihoods. Kindly Beast, the company that Mike Mood and theMeatly established after buying out Karman Interactive, would face criticism from former employees who were the victims of a layoff, who stated Mike and theMeatly tended to ignore the concerns of more experienced workers, not being upfront about the unclear future of the company, and long periods of time where no work was done due to the board being difficult to contact.
Artist katelynntheg has a Bendy and the Ink Machine OC named Rodney Ravenclaw, whose voice claim is Jacksepticeye (as demonstrated here). Chapter three then includes a tape recording of Shawn Flynn, a Heavenly Toys division employee who is officially voiced by JackSepticEye.
Right before his boss fight, Bertrum says "You may think I've gone, but I'm still here!".
Hype Backlash: Somewhat inevitably, the massive amount of hype, fanart, and Filk Songs for the game has led to some disappointment about the quality in various ways — in particular the fact that most chapters can be completed in less than an hour total, the gameplay is underwhelming at best, and the actual story isn't nearly as expanded on as one might be led to believe listening to said filk songs. The Disappointing Last Level didn't help matters.
A case of Tropes Are Not Bad, in that the audience is hooked despite Henry's Genre Blind moments. Yes, Henry turned on a machine with mysterious properties, when he was only coming to meet Joey. But when he turns on the machine, it marks the beginning of some enjoyable Nightmare Fuel.
Episode 3 is hit with a form of this; Henry puts his trust in Alice Angel, who demonstrates homicidal tendencies within her inner sanctum, and does various tasks for her in exchange for being allowed to leave. However, it's not like he has a choice; Alice threatens to kill him if he doesn't obey, and she'll leave him in the dark for the various Ink creatures to murder him. She turns out to be no good, and snags the chance out from under his nose as soon as it seems like he'll be able to leave.
Jerkass Woobie: Sammy Lawrence, a former employee who's seemingly gone insane after all the chaos in the studio. He's been turned into a monstrous ink creature by Bendy, and tries to sacrifice you to him in exchange for his human body back. While he's very easy to hate, it's hard to not feel bad for him as you hear him plead for mercy as Bendy mercilessly kills him. At least until he reappears in the final chapter.
Sammy Lawrence's redesign as of the updates of the previous chapters that came with Chapter 4 has been regarded as Mr. Fanservice to a lot of fans, due to having more defined muscles under the ink casing and looking overall more human.
Henry's absolutely inhuman calm even as he traverses deeper and deeper into a studio full of horrors is subject to many jokes that he went through so much after he left that he's Seen It All by now.
The End explanation (SPOILERS) Some fans thought how exactly the Ink Demon is defeated, getting shown an ending card and told his series is over, was ridiculous.
Moe: As the "Tasty Trio Troubles" short goes, Edgar is absolutely adorable for a spider, first being seen pulling a string toy duck behind him cheerfully. He even makes squeaky toy sounds!
In addition to being a terrible boss overall, Joey crossed it when he fired Susie from the Alice Angel role while having an affair with her.
Sammy crosses it when planning to sacrifice Henry to the Inked Demon, despite recognizing him. Sammy gets eaten for his troubles.
At least Inked Bendy's excuse for trying to murder Henry is that he's an Eldritch Abomination based off a trickster toon that operates on Blue-and-Orange Morality, but Alice/Susie is aware of who Henry is and knows he had nothing to do with her getting fired. So she threatens Henry's life to get him to run errands for her, kidnaps Boris to make herself "beautiful," goads Henry about trying to save Boris knowing that it's too late, and orders a brainwashed Boris to murder Henry. No one sheds a tear when Allison!Alice stabs her through the stomach.
Sammy Lawrence calling you a sheep sounds like an affectionate pet name at first, and some people chuckle at it. After learning he plans to use you as a human sacrifice, it becomes really disturbing.
The Projectionist/Norman Polk is shown to have No Object Permanence, as after you get in a little miracle station even just when he's chasing you down, he simply continues wandering around. It's ridiculous and might just be Artificial Stupidity, but when you think about it, it might actually be a way to show how mentally gone he truly is.
The very first enemy inkblobs you face appear with a scare chord... and die in a single blow to an axe, or two blows from a plunger, making them little more than pests. They also evaporate instantly when you hide from them, even if you were in sight seconds before.
Inked Bendy's initial design looks like a poorly-made clay model the more you look at him.
A Halloween patch for the game included a crossover with Hello Neighbor can be... extremely underwhelming for those playing the game for the first time. Rather than being faced with Bendy and or Sam, both of their character models are replaced by the droopy-eyed, small-moustached Neighbor. The patch was only around for a limited time, but threw off a number of gamers.
Player Punch: Alice taking Boris away at the end of Chapter Three....
...And then having to put him down in the Chapter 4 finale, after Alice transforms him into Frankenboris.
Paranoia Fuel: Bendy's cutout follows you around during the game. He never moves except to peer at you from a corner, and his expression never changes, but dear God.
Combat in general is rather finicky, even with the targeting crosshair, because it's hard to judge the distance of what you're going to hit with it, leading to frequently missing. Since the enemies move toward you, it's even harder to know when you should strike. When Chapter 4 was released, what came with it was rather severe Hitbox Dissonance on the part of the enemies (with some even able to hit you even as you're backing away from them when they stop to take a strike), which resulted in even more demands to fix the combat on the Steam forums.
Made even worse by the Checkpoint Starvation in Chapter 2. Couldn't judge the distance right a few too many times? Back to the start with you!
The lack of leniency in aiming the melee weapon is a sticking point for a lot of people. If your crosshair isn't directly on the enemy, you miss. This might work with a gun, but a melee weapon with a wide swing should be more forgiving.
Sometimes, the game will start you off with a sensitivity that's hard to handle.
The way the camera just keeps on swaying back and forth, as if Henry was either drunk or inside a ship on a sea. No option in the settings is able to turn that off, and quite a few people had to give up on playing the game because of this, due to motion sickness.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: A workplace where a boss or bosses don't care about your well-being is hazardous, in more ways than one. In addition to the supernatural dangers, workers via cassette tapes complain about realistic safety hazards, missed schedules, and in some cases, ruined careers.
Special Effect Failure: In the original version of the first chapter, Inked Bendy was scary for about a second before the player realized just how bad the model looks, being incredibly blobby and having no defined body outside of a head and torso. The game's developers even later referred to this model as "bird poop with a smile". Later updates replaced the model with something much more frightening.
Chapter 3 gives Henry a means to finally escape from Sillyvision, via the elevator that Alice Angel lets you use, provided you do something for them. Given that there are two more Chapters, it's easy to infer that Henry fails to leave. Alice destroys the elevator by the time the episode ends, and likely put you even deeper into the facility than before.
Chapter 4 gives us Bertrum Piedmont's boss fight which begins with the player listening to a tape recording from Bertrum himself, who reveals at the end of the recording to be in the same room as Henry and attacks after the tape is finished. However the player is unlikely to be caught off-guard since the delivery of the recording is different from every other tape so far.
Several of the ink creations could elicit this reaction. Especially with the amount of Body Horror involved with several of them. One example is the Butcher Gang — beings that seem to have actual organs.
A more obvious one would be having to remove a boil from a swollen searcher and using it to make a gear.
That one part in Chapter Two where you have to run down to the Orchestra Room after turning on a projector and play different instruments correctly which doesn't sound so bad, except the projector is timed. Not to mention, there are twists and turns and the controls can get sloppy if you don't have a compatible controller. And chances are, the projector will turn off before you reach the room or finish playing Sammy's song. Rage is perhaps imminent.
Nearly the entirety of Chapter 3 is this already, due to a series of four fetch quests in a row from Alice Angel, the third and fourth ones only broken up by fighting multiple waves of enemies (Ink Searchers and Butcher Gang members) who spawn in droves and can easily gang up on you. Complicating this is the fact that you're forced to use the lead pipe rather than the more damaging axe (for instance, the Ink Searchers are killed in two hits by the lead pipe but only one hit by the axe). Not to mention, you have to be on the lookout for "Bendy" almost the entire time. The Chapter was patched the week afterward, with one of the major points being that it cut down on the fetch quests, putting the tasks on particular floors instead.
There is also a glitch where the fourth gearbox (during the second fetch quest) won't let you open it, making the objective unbeatable unless you restart it enough times that it lets you open it.
The frikkin "hit the bottle" game in Chapter Four. If you're using a mouse, it'll be an absolute nightmare trying to hit them, and if you managed to, chances are only one or two will fall.
Some players found it hard to bond with Boris in Chapter 3 due to the character never uttering a single line, barely expressing any sign of emotion or connection with Henry through body language, makes no outward reaction upon discovering the Boris clones having been disemboweled in a twisted experiment carried out by Alice Angel, and spends the rest of the second-half of the chapter waiting in an elevator while the player explores the area and carries out all sorts of tedious fetch quests. Boris' capture by Alice Angel by the end of Chapter 3 was met with more indifference rather than actual concern of their companion's predicament.
Some players assumed Joey Drew was being built up to be the Big Bad of the entire game, that he purposely set the events of the plot into motion with a nefarious intention behind them. Quite a few people also incorrectly guessed Joey Drew was actually Bendy himself, that he was cartoon Bendy's human host and Joey let Bendy's demonic mischievousness overwhelm him. At the end of chapter 5 it's revealed Joey is just some decrepit old man who invited Henry back to see the studio, and while it is unclear if his intentions were benign or evil, he actually has very little to do with the game directly, other than to set it into motion in the backstory.
In spite of the fact that the titular Bendy is the Big Bad and Final Boss of the game, he doesn't really have any motivation to what he does ... in fact, it's not even entirely clear what he's trying to do in the first place. It's insinuated he's responsible for turning real people into inkblot people, but why he's doing this or to what ends is never revealed, nor if he's actually trapped in the studio and wants to get out, or what his personal grief is with Henry, if any. The fact that does not speak and has no facial emotions (his eyes are always covered by ink and he has a plastered, frozen 'Bendy' grin on his face) does him no favors, and in the end he comes off as less a calculated character (unlike Sammy or Alice, who had clear motivations), and more a mindless beast who does the things he does just because he's a "demon".
Some people who've played the game like the concept (a horror game about living cartoon characters), but feel the execution is flawed for one reason or another. One complaint is that the game takes itself too seriously, and would be better served playing up the "cartoon" aspect of the "evil living cartoon" conceit. Many of the scary moments in the first chapter (as you are unarmed and face unknown horrors) are defused in the following two chapters as you get an axe and wade through relatively harmless blobs of ink like an action hero.
The fact that with the exception of Bendy who is the one and only, there can be and in fact are multiples of characters such as Boris the Wolf or Alice Angel running around, and how they may interact with one another. One version of Boris that follows the player around does get to see other Boris copies gut open and harvested, but he has absolutely no reaction to them, and he dies before Tom/Boris appears. Alice and Allison only interact when Allison sneaks up behind Alice to stab her in the back and otherwise do not share a single line of dialogue.
There's also the fact that it's almost like there's a whole ink ecosystem down there, between the Searchers, Lost Ones, Ink Demon, other transformed humans, and other cartoon characters (and which of the latter two categories do Allison and Tom fall into anyway?). And whatever the fuck the giant hand in the river is. There's potential for far more than simple shock horror here - and none of it's explored further than the scares need.
While certainly effective as a horror game, there was plenty of potential for it to focus also on the awe and wonder of such a scenario, and have the plot be more about saving the benign ink beings and unwillingly affected humans - and possibly even restoring or removing the corruption from the Ink Machine. This potential is even alluded to with the arc words "set us free". Instead, the game ends with a Final Boss fight against Bendy's One-Winged Angel form, and a Gainax Ending afterwards.
Unwinnable by Mistake: Near the start of Chapter 2 when you have to find and press 3 buttons, 2 of them are supposed to start near the bottom of the stairs but the game will occasionally only load one of the two buttons meaning the player has to restart the chapter all over again.
Unpopular Popular Character: In spite of her in-universe reception being rather tepid, Alice Angel is among the most popular characters within the Bendy fan community.
Viewer Gender Confusion: There are quite a majority of fans who think Lacie Benton is male, due to her deep voice and rather androgynous name.
Henry was just coming to see Joey. He didn't want to find out his best friend was involved with the occult, and he certainly wasn't planning on getting attacked by ink monsters and almost sacrificed. Taken Up to Eleven if you believe in the "Groundhog Day" Loop theory. Living through all that was bad enough already... imagine doing it over and over again, with no hope of escape.
Poor Boris the Wolf. He definitely didn't deserve to be strapped to a table with his rib cage and chest cut open. It gets worse when we learn in Chapter Three that Alice Angel made many Boris copies, and the one who helps Henry recover in the safehouse encounters his dead clones. Boris, unable to speak, can only stare at his vivisected double. Then when Alice crashes the elevator he and Henry are riding, she grabs Boris when the latter is checking on a semiconscious Henry. He was only in danger because he tried to help! It's all good though, because we'll get to save him in Chapter 4, right? HA HA HA, nope. He gets horribly mutilated and turned against Henry, who is forced to put him down.
Poor, poor Bendy! He was the only attempt to bring the cartoon character to life but failed due to not having a soul. After coming to life all he did was wander the studio not hurting anyone at all and merely creep them out. The latter caused Joey worry the press wouldn't like it and he had Thomas Connor lock him up in the bottom of the studio for that reason solely. You almost can' blame for being the way he is.