Bright Memory: Infinite is developed by FYQD-Studio and published by PLAYISM. The game initially came to my radar and probably to most people’s radar when it was part of the Xbox showcase in May 2020 when Microsoft was promoting and getting ready to launch the Xbox Series X. The trailer on display was a visual feast and was promising fast-paced gameplay, so does the game live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
The game takes place shortly in 2036 and a black hole suddenly appears in the sky. Enter Shelia Tan, the protagonist of the game and the character you play as. Shelia is a member of The Supernatural Science Research Organization, oddly abbreviated as SRO, and she is tasked with investigating the phenomena. That’s pretty much it! The story is very short and to the point and the gameplay barely emphasizes what’s going in the world and the game offers little in terms of answers to the mystery (spoilers I guess). There’s an antagonist that gets very little screen time which forces the writer to make him speak his motivation in one of the final scenes of the game. As far as the story goes, it’s all window dressing and can largely be ignored as it’s just an excuse to make you go from point A to point B and it also explains why the enemies look the way they look. Honestly, I’m not convinced that the developers of this game know what’s going on in the world of this game. Again, the final scenes of the game explain what’s happening but the excuse is a bit laughable due to some leaps in logic, and I don’t buy what they are selling.
For me, the audio was only up to par. When I game I use 3D audio headphones so I can hear which direction the enemies are coming from and this game does not implement 3D audio at all. Often I would try to rely on sound cues by turning my character in the direction I thought the enemy was at, but I would be wrong and take some damage for it. The music of the game was also repetitive in the sense that I think there may have only been three songs in this game. There was a song for when you are engaged in combat which is pretty much the whole game, a song for boss fights that sounded close to the previously aforementioned song, and a quieter song that emphasizes the Chinese flute for moments when you are not in a combat encounter. Now granted, I may be wrong as I didn’t look at this game’s soundtrack/tracklist. This game just feels like just one song was used to compose this game, the gameplay (which I’ll get to in a sec) already feels one-note, the soundtrack could have made segments and encounters feel more distinct. If there are separate songs for various encounters, then the motifs blend too much and they sound too alike to the point where no distinction can be made.
The visuals are the main thing this game has going for it. It is surprisingly good considering that the game initially began development with just one man, Zeng Xiancheng, working in their free time. After the early access release in 2019 of Bright Memory (essentially this game’s tech demo/prequel), the game became crowdfunded and Zeng was able to hire on a team. FYQD-Studio wanted to make a game that was a visual showpiece for RTX graphics cards that featured weather effects and ray tracing. I believe FYQD-Studio accomplished this goal as this game is a visual treat. There is a lot of settings in the menu that lets you toggle ray tracing settings from low to high as well as other sliders for graphics settings that are pretty much standard. I was initially sad to see that the game can only run at 1080p but after scrolling down I saw a DLSS toggle which is an AI-based up-scalers. The game can run at 4K with the power of AI. For purposes of my review, I never toggled that feature because I wanted a higher frame rate. I have a 1080p gaming monitor that can offer up to 144 frames per second and my 4K monitor caps out at 60 fps. Plus my game capture cannot capture 4K gameplay anyways so the decision was made for me. Either way, the game’s performance was A1 when it was working. I think during my entire game time I noticed frame stuttering 5 times and 3 of those times occurred when transitioning from gameplay to cutscenes and back. It also should be noted that Vsync by default was turned off so I turned it on before even starting my game so I never experience screen tearing.
Now I need to let you know that I experienced two crashes during my time with the game and both of them were back to back for the same reason. I was in the middle of a boss fight and after winning the boss fight a cutscene triggered and then the game crash, upon rebooting the game I was thrust to the start of the boss fight again. Due to the two crashes, I had to fight the boss three times in a row before I could proceed. I just want to add that there were two more boss fights I had to do later in the game and both times I held my breath when I beat the boss because a cutscene triggered. To end on a good note, I want to give a shout-out to the game’s environments which are modeled after real-life locations in China. There was a lot of cool imagery in these village/jungle environments especially when you are high at the top of a mountain and looking at a cool skyline.
This is the part where I’m going to take this game to the task. I have so much to say here and I have two approaches here, how I felt after having played the game, and how I felt after re-watching the reveal trailer. So to start, this game is repetitive. From the very first chapter of this game, this game shows you almost all of its cards from the moment go. Shelia is badass in a mech suit with guns, a double jump, a dash, and a sword. The game has a straightforward tutorial where you are forced into situations where you need to utilize your basic skills such as double jumping, wall-running, and parries among other things. It’s also worth noting that this game is very short and I beat the game in under 4 hours. The game in my book has 4 chapters and the 3rd chapter is just a cutscene. Per the game’s logic in the main menu, there are 7 “scenes” to choose from.
The game features an upgrade tree and I was initially happy with the progression of the game because I was getting skill points constantly, like 1 skill point per encounter. After beating the first chapter I remember thinking to myself “wow, I’m getting close to maxing out my character” not realizing that I already beat a third of the game. Within the skill tree, you can unlock special ammo for your guns that track enemies, upgrades for your mech suit such as power punches and EMP powers, and upgrades for your sword that opens up combat options.
The game wants to be a fast-paced action FPS game in the vein of Doom mixed with Devil May Cry but this in my opinion falls short of that. Now granted, I only played the game in normal difficulty for the review but the enemy AI was simple and they were all programmed with the same attack pattern and that’s just to charge in recklessly Leroy Jenkins style. It’s very easy to beat the enemies because all I had to do was constantly strafe around until my melee cooldowns were done or my character was done auto-healing. Once I figured out how to beat these waves of encounters it got to the point where playing the game felt mundane and for the lack of a better word, brain-dead. I felt myself autopilot a lot during my playthrough, now to the game’s credit they did their best to mix up the gameplay.
The first big gameplay mixup was the start of the game’s second chapter where your mech suit has failed and you can’t use your gun, double jump, or your sword, and pretty much anything for that matter. So you are left with a cleaver that you find lying around to Metal Gear Solid your way through the environment and stealth kill enemies. Then later in the game, you find new weapons to change up your play style such as a sniper rifle and enemy placements adjust accordingly. Also, boss fights are 3D Mega Man boss fights where you memorize attack patterns and find openings, think of the Valkyre fights from God of War 2018 but easier…. like much easier. Finally, there is a car chase sequence but I have to say I have never played Forza but I’m willing to bet that this game’s car mechanics controls nothing like Forza. So yeah despite the game putting in the effort this does not get an A.
So after beating the game and I’m getting my thoughts together and looking up when the game was revealed for this review I decided to re-watch the Xbox reveal from May 2020. I have to say that I’m glad I didn’t re-watch it before I started playing the game because that trailer overpromised and underdelivered. The game’s combat looks nothing like what was on display, for starters the game’s level design focused a lot more on open spaces so there is almost no reason to wall run and jump down with a ground pound. Secondly, the game makes it look like your Hookshot is part of your arsenal because it was used during combat in the trailer, instead, in the final game, it’s only used for you to proceed forward in the level, such as traversing a mountain. Finally, the car sequence in the trailer was way more badass than the car sequence I played you would think the car would be more prominent in the game based on the trailer because the character summoned the car to her with the push of a button.
As far as closing thoughts, this game is linear, so linear that this game has so many invisible walls like there is no room for exploration. I am not a fan of invisible walls especially when they are done poorly, there were many times where there was a path that I thought I could walk down only to stop moving. Also, this game barely has secret locations, if I can even call it that, where you can find skill points not so cleverly hidden. I want to give two shout-outs, the first is ammo, there is so much of it and often when there was ammo on the floor I couldn’t carry it because I was maxed out. The second shout-out was the end of the game. I got to a part and there was ammo all over the floor, like stupid amounts of ammo and when I saw it I knew the game was over because the game did the trope where it’s making sure you are all supplied up for the final boss fight.
So I’m sad to report that Bright Memory: Infinite wasn’t that good a game. It’s all style and no substance. I was looking forward to this game but the game is short and monotonous. There is nothing wrong with short games mind you, but it needs to pack a punch and leave you wanting more but I’m probably going to forget about this game in a week. At least as a consolation, I can never use the words awful or bad to describe this game, but rather mediocre or meh come to mind. So with that said this game is landing at a 6/10 for me.
Bright Memory: Infinite is out on Thursday, November 11th on PC via Steam and GOG and will retail for $19.99. It should also be noted that owners of the prequel Bright Memory will be able to get Bright Memory: Infinite for free as an upgrade, if you already owned the game before the game’s release. A review code was provided by the publisher for purposes of review and the game was reviewed on PC via Steam.
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