Bright Memory: Infinite Review – Shine On, You Crazy Diamond
Bright Memory: Infinite, a title handpicked by Microsoft to kick off a showcase for the Xbox Series X back in May 2020, is finally here. Playing the finished product, it’s easy to see why it was chosen to lead the charge that year, as quite frankly, it’s absolutely beautiful to look at and contains production values that would make plenty of AAA studios blush. Even more impressive is that it comes from a one-man development team, FYQD Studio; a fact that I had to keep reminding myself of over the course of my playthrough. If I had one concern going into Bright Memory: Infinite, it’s that I thought we were perhaps looking at a glorified tech demo, but, thankfully, that’s far from the case, and Bright Memory: Infinite provides a concise and heart-pounding romp that manages to prove worthwhile despite an extremely short runtime.
Before I start gushing about what a blast Bright Memory: Infinite is to play, I want to clarify something – and that is if you’re someone who values coherent narrative and deep world-building in your video games, you won’t find that here, unfortunately.
Stepping into the boots of Super Nature Research Organisation agent Sheila, players are tasked with investigating a black hole that (from what I could gather) is in danger of being used by a rival military organization for nefarious means that were never quite clear. There is the main antagonist, General Lin, but his motives were never made apparent, which is a shame as it reduces the waves of Lin’s goons that you’ll be mowing down to nothing more than mere cannon fodder. There’s also a supernatural element at play, with mythological enemies being thrown into the mix early on, but again, I was never exactly sure as to why Sheila and Lin’s timeline was being invaded by these beings, only that they were somehow linked to the aforementioned black hole.
Plot points are glossed over within seconds, character motivations are non-existent, and I can’t help but think that as impressive as Bright Memory: Infinite is overall having come from a single developer, it’s an experience that would have greatly benefited from solid creative input. With a dedicated writer or two and a decent editor, the gameplay wouldn’t have had to do as much heavy lifting as it does. Thankfully, the gameplay is where Bright Memory: Infinite really sings.
Titanfall Meets Shadow Warrior
Over the course of its two-hour runtime, Bright Memory: Infinite provided me with more fun than I’ve had with a single-player shooter since Respawn blessed us with Titanfall 2’s wonderful campaign. Part of that feeling is undoubtedly due to Titanfall 2 seeming a clear inspiration for the feel of the gunplay and maneuverability that makes Bright Memory: Infinite such a hoot to play.
Double jumps, wall running, grappling hooks, and lethal parkour-filled obstacle courses are all par for the course here as you dart around the various levels taking on wave after wave of enemy. Movement feels almost as responsive and crisp as Respawn’s classic as well, which is no mean feat considering how satisfying traversal in Titanfall 2 feels, with snappy and responsive gunplay complimenting the parkour elements perfectly. There isn’t the greatest variety when it comes to weapons, with your arsenal largely revolving around a pretty standard assault rifle, shotgun, and pistol trio. These all handle well, however, and can be equipped with secondary fire modes, such as incendiary rounds or homing rockets that you better believe you should save for Bright Memory: Infinite’s tough-as-nails boss fights.
There’s also a huge focus on melee combat in Bright Memory: Infinite which feels more than a little similar to the rebooted Shadow Warrior titles. Using the triangle button, Sheila is capable of slicing foes down with her sword, and can even launch enemies into the air, providing the chance to unleash devastating mid-air juggle combos. It’s incredibly visceral and satisfying to nail the timing of a parry, before launching an enemy into the air, juggling them with the sword, all before bringing them back down to earth with a shotgun blast to the face. There’s a rhythm to Bright Memory: Infinite’s combat, the likes of which I’ve rarely experienced in a first-person shooter. Nowhere is this more apparent than the handful of boss battles, where careful use of melee and parrying are paramount to success, with the game starting to feel akin to a first-person take on Sekiro, such is the need to memorize patterns and attack timings.
If there is one area where things do fall apart slightly, it’s during the more scripted set-pieces. These never feel as tight or as well thought out as the more freeform combat arenas that make up the bulk of the campaign. Incredibly basic stealth sections, dull car chases, and on-rails shooting sections all interrupt and feel like tick-box exercises, often coming across as though the developer felt the need to tack on set-pieces because that’s what a modern linear shooter needs to do these days. Truth be told, though, this is a short title, around two hours or so, and there was no need for these sections at all. Bright Memory: Infinite’s combat is excellent, and with such a short campaign, these excursions feel like a needless waste of precious time.
Blink And You’ll Miss It
I want to spend a moment discussing that two-hour campaign length, as it’s likely to be a bit of a sticky issue for a lot of people. Make no mistake, I absolutely think Bright Memory: Infinite is worth its twenty dollar price-point. What you are getting is a well-crafted, two-hour campaign that delivers combat and production values that would pass as AAA if you didn’t know any better and weren’t told otherwise. It’s the work of one remarkable man, with this clearly being a passion project that has no doubt caused many sleepless nights and stressful years as he strived for this level of fidelity and polish, and I think that the end result turned out as well as it has is deserving of the price tag. On that basis, twenty dollars is fine in my view, and if going in with this price point enables FYQD Studio to go on to bigger and better projects, then I’m all for it.
Value is, of course, relative. Some people don’t have the luxury of viewing twenty dollars as disposable income, and for anyone who views video game value through the hours per dollar lens, I would say hold off for a sale. This is a great campaign, but it’s just that, only a campaign. Bright Memory: Infinite possesses very little replay value once credits have rolled, and it’s likely that you’ll never boot it up again once beaten; unless you want to show off this astonishing one-man achievement to friends or family. What I’m really getting at here, is that there are arguments both for and against the current launch price of Bright Memory: Infinite, so I’d suggest weighing those up before jumping in and making sure you know what you’re paying for.
Bright Memory: Infinite is a shining example of the power of development tools when placed in the hands of someone who truly knows how to get the most out of them. With its AAA production values and polished gameplay, it provides an evening’s worth of action that entertained me in a way that the genre has struggled to do since Respawn’s underappreciated Titanfall 2. If you’re comfortable with dropping twenty dollars on an experience that you know will be over in a couple of hours and are willing to overlook the messy narrative in favour of the excellent gameplay loops, then Bright Memory: Infinite is absolutely worth supporting.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available On: PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, PC; Publisher: PLAYISM; Developer: FYQD Studio; Players: 1; Released: 21 July, 2022; MSRP: $19.99; ESRB: M for Mature
Full Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher.