Is Bright Memory: Infinite infinitely better than its predecessor?
Bright Memory from FYQD Studio was something of a surprise hit, not least because it was from such a small and inexperienced development team. A fast-paced FPS game with melee elements and super powers that looked gorgeous, it had a lot going for it, and, although brief, it was a great proof of concept to get a developer’s name out there. Bright Memory: Infinite is this team’s sequel/full version of this, and whilst it certainly brings a lot more content, it also takes a few steps backwards.
In Bright Memory: Infinite, you take on the role of Shelia, an agent working for SRO, a company that investigates strange phenomena. On new year’s eve, a black hole appears over a mountainous region of China, and Shelia is dispatched to investigate. Beyond that, I couldn’t really tell you what was going on in the story, nor how it relates to the previous game in the series. There are constantly more things happening, with other characters who aren’t explained, enemies that resemble ancient warriors accompanied by modern soldiers, and occasional wild boar attacks. If you were hoping for some explanation or continuation from Bright Memory, then you’re out of luck.
With that said, it’s unlikely you’re here for the story, as Bright Memory: Infinite is all about fast-action melee and gunplay, and it has that in spades. Every few seconds you’ll be moving from combat encounter to combat encounter, with a little bit of traversal in between.
You’ll fight your way through waves of enemies using your standard array of guns — pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and sniper rifle, each with an alternate fire — and your sword alongside an array of time manipulating powers. The gunplay is really satisfying, with each gun feeling powerful, being able to take out most enemies with a couple of well placed shots.
Then there’s your sword which can slice up enemies at close range, as well as block and deflect attacks. Again, this feels tremendous to use, especially when deflecting a melee attack from an opponent, before launching them in the air and then shooting them back down again with a well placed shotgun blast. You also have an array of powers that can pull enemies closer to you, slam your fist into the ground, or throw your sword out to create a swirling whirlwind of sharpened death. Honestly, the combat is really satisfying when Bright Memory: Infinite gets things right, and on a par with the best FPS games out there.
Whilst it gets it right most of the time, there were too many occasions of annoyance when things went wrong over the rather short runtime of around two hours. Enemies could sometimes aim at and shoot at me through walls, I’d clip through enemies when using melee, and most egregious, I died during a cutscene after defeating the final boss, sending me back to the start of the fight. occasionally, reloading to a previous checkpoint after death wouldn’t restore the special ammo I’d expended. Some of the text in menus is still in Chinese. There’s a slew of bugs here that really need to be ironed out quickly, as they were quite annoying, and really let down an otherwise very fun experience, and as they’re encompassed in a very brief experience they stand out all the more.
I also feel that some of its mechanics are underutilised. There’s a grappling hook and some nice wall running mechanics along with a double jump. The previous game made use of these in combat and through a couple of environment puzzles, whereas here they’re relegated to moving from one area to another. Having a little more freedom with the grappling hook could have led to some fun combat opportunities, but sadly this isn’t the way things have gone here. The combat is fun, but it could have been even more than that given enough time.
The visual design certainly seems to have had a lot of time put into it though. Bright Memory: Infinite is gorgeous, and a testament to what can be achieved with the Unreal Engine. The environments, although not all that varied, look wonderful, with lots of incidental detail and tremendous lighting effects. Whilst the world doesn’t feel that “lived in” as such, fighting through streets, temples, and fields feels great and looks stunning. Even the obligatory stealth level is kept interesting thanks in part to those visuals. The sound’s great too — although I think the shotgun could do with sounding a bit meatier — including the music which is quite fitting. The voice work is the weakest element, and whilst it’s competently done it’s really quite hammy at times and makes the game feel a bit silly at times when it’s trying to be serious.
The combination of James Bond adjacent set pieces — you have a gunfight on the back of a mid-flight plane for heaven’s sake — and stunning visuals make for a tremendously fun time during those times when it works well. Even better, is if you already own Bright Memory on Steam, you get Bright Memory: Infinite for free. You’ll certainly want a pretty beefy rig to get the most out of the visuals, but if you have something powerful, you can expect a well running, gorgeous shooter that’s a lot of fun to play. Brief though it is, there’s a lot to love in this small package.
Bright Memory: Infinite is available now on PC.