Bright Memory: Infinite (Xbox Series) Review

Fleeting frenetic fun
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Bright Memory: Infinite (FYQD-Studio, PLAYISM) is a game somewhat burdened by its development history as a mostly one-man indie project that garnered a ton of interest and hype around the launch of the current-gen consoles in late 2020. The initial release, Bright Memory, was an interesting proof of concept – initially envisioned as the first of several chapters to be released periodically. It was a stylish, visually striking, but rough-around-the-edges FPS with a focus on blisteringly fast movement and combo-based action that blended traditional gunplay with sword and exo-suit powers.

Releasing first on PC, Bright Memory: Infinite arrives on consoles 8 months later as the “Platinum Edition” (which just means a bunch of cosmetic DLC thrown in). It reworks Bright Memory’s framework and several concepts into a cohesive 2 to 3-hour experience with a budget price tag (though unfortunately no free upgrade here while PC owners got one). It’s also pretty decent – if you keep your expectations in check.

Bright Memory: Infinite QTEs

High-speed death-dealing

Bright Memory: Infinite often feels like a montage of videogame history, hurtling you from familiar set piece to set piece. One of the earliest is an on-the-rails cinematic scene with quick-time events – a feature so dated in 2022 I failed most of them the first time before realising what was happening. There’s twitch shooting as you’re funnelled through exterior levels that function as dressed-up corridors; a few simple platforming sections that rely on double-jumping, wall-running, and a grapple; a contrived stealth section with a rudimentary detection meter; a rocket-launching spy car chase; and frequent arena battles against large mobs or tough bosses that force you to keep mobile to survive.

Now that’s not to say the gameplay feels entirely derivative as it rewards combo-focused attacks – a mix of gunplay and powers – essential for handling crowds and tougher enemies with shields or some sort of defensive bar. Conventional weapons have powerful secondary ammunition types that trivialise many encounters; your exo-suit grants you the ability to pull, push, lift, or even rocket punch your foes; your sword can block most attacks, deflect bullets and rockets, or quickly slice an enemy to pieces. Every ability is smartly mapped to the gamepad so you can switch them up on the fly – essential for hectic bullet-sponge boss fights that leave you with little space to charge up your most powerful attacks.

Shoot – cutscene – repeat

Of course, a razor-focused, budget title will usually have caveats. In the case of Bright Memory: Infinite, it’s a borderline non-existent plot, predictable level structure, and an upgrade system that, in part, feels tacked on.

Starting with the narrative issues, you get a lengthy opening cutscene, mid-game cutscenes, exposition-dump finale, and plenty of radio conversations. However, there’s zero world-building; no insight into the organisation Shelia works for (outside of loading screen text); no context for the human military faction you’re fighting against; and no explanation as to why everyone is so calm about the sudden appearance of a black hole. The bulk of dialogue in-game is just military orders or vaguely-coherent scientific babble. It’s clear a decent amount of effort went into directing the cutscenes, so it’s a shame they add so little to the experience.

My other issues are both related to Bright Memory: Infinite’s short length. On one hand, you’ve got the predictable level structure that sees you platform or shoot your way down a corridor, enter an arena for a boss or mini-boss battle, watch a small cutscene, and repeat. My first playthrough clocked in at only 2h20, yet the repetitive flow was wearying by the end. On the other hand, the world is littered with reliquaries – or fragments of them – that you collect to unlock upgrades for your weapons, sword, and exo-suit. Unlocking each new secondary fire mode or power attack makes sense and feels impactful to combat, but the subsequent incremental upgrades feel pointless given the short runtime.

Bright Memory: Infinite Skills

This was a one-man project?!

Going back to the positives, the audiovisual experience is consistently good, edging on great if you’re a fan of some environment and creature designs. I think the most important aspect of the presentation is appreciating that this is effectively one man’s vision, brought to life as a solo developer with modern tools. Even during moments I wanted to roll my eyes at some terrible dialogue or a contrived situation, I couldn’t help but appreciate the passion that went into crafting Bright Memory: Infinite.

The visuals are not quite as “next-gen” as originally hyped up – especially as they managed a native Switch port – but the image is crisp, effects work over-the-top, and performance was rock solid on both Xbox Series consoles. Environments, while often impressive in scope, do highlight the dated level design when you find yourself constantly butting into invisible walls or dealing with inconsistent climbing logic. Detailed character and weapon models are a highlight and any game with a dedicated “admire gun” button deserves a bonus point. The audio was generic enough that it left no lasting impressions, but the sound of gunfire, sword strikes, and the soundtrack all did a solid job of complementing the action. The voice actors, well, they do the best they can with the lines they’re given.

For those interested in the Nintendo Switch port (comment from Adam Ligocki)

Just when you think the debate about the Switch not being powerful enough is going to roll around again, something like the Bright Memory: Infinite port comes along to remind you that a) the Switch is actually a pretty nifty and capable machine, and b) it’s up to the developers on how they use it. FYQD-Studio has managed to port a game that really doesn’t look like it should run on the Switch, to the Switch. In short, Bright Memory: Infinite on Switch is super pretty indeed. Even more important is that none of that visual flair comes with any performance issues at all – the game runs like a dream. Yes, you’ll see lower resolution textures and low-polygon models in the environments, yet it remains stunning throughout (at least when not docked) with stunning Chinese architecture on display. The port even supports Vsync – which has no notable performance impact – an FOV slider, and 3 options for motion blur strength (which I found too strong even at its lowest setting). The meat of the game, of course, is the combat, which remains satisfyingly fun with wall-running, combat slides, and a “shoot-and-slash” combo focus. It may run on the short side, but it’s well worth your time, especially on the go.

Bright Memory: Infinite Giant Boss

Fun but fleeting

So, wrapping up, I had a fun time tearing through Bright Memory: Infinite – enough so that I immediately tackled a second campaign run on a higher difficulty. Given the limitations, brevity is a strength in this case and might have knock-on benefits. I‘ve got no doubt there are collision issues and cutscene triggers to break but, even without glitches, I could see Bright Memory: Infinite remaining a solid choice for speedrunners with a focus on pure optimisation.

If you’re after an entertaining but short FPS you could clear in an evening, and you can appreciate passion projects that are somewhat derivative of their inspirations, Bright Memory: Infinite is a good pick. The budget pricing goes a long way to increasing the appeal, while PC players that own Bright Memory have no excuse not to try it out given the free upgrade.

A review code for Bright Memory: Infinite was provided to Gameblur by the Publisher.

Bright Memory: Infinite (Xbox Series) Review

Bright Memory: Infinite (Xbox Series) Review
7 10 0 1
7/10
Total Score
  • Story
    5/10 Neutral
  • Gameplay
    8/10 Very Good
  • Visuals
    8/10 Very Good
  • Audio
    6/10 Normal

The Good

  • Fast, fluid, and stylish combat
  • A good mix of twitch shooting and combo power attacks
  • Impressive and consistent presentation from a tiny team
  • Doesn’t overstay its welcome

The Bad

  • The plot is borderline non-existent
  • The incremental power upgrades feel unnecessary
Total
4
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