Bright Memory: Infinite launches on Xbox Series X|S tomorrow, and we’ve battled it out with well-equipped soldiers and ancient warriors to give you our verdict on this sci-fi first-person shooter.
If you’ve previously enjoyed Lo Wang’s adventures in the Shadow Warrior series but, unlike me, didn’t quite enjoy the wacky humor or genital-focused puns, then Bright Memory: Infinite’s similar gameplay loop might be right up your street. It focuses on action more so than the story and wraps it in stunning ray-traced visuals that prove your purchase of an Xbox Series X was well justified. It was also made by one person, which is just insane.
Bright Memory: Infinite console launch trailer
The only way to acceptably kick off this review is by discussing Bright Memory: Infinite’s sublime visuals, which aside from the odd exception, showcase the power of Microsoft’s latest generation of consoles. I played through on an Xbox Series X with ray tracing enabled, and just wow, reflects, ripples, and flows realistically, blood splatter pops across the screen as you blast holes in your enemies or slice them apart with your katana, and general lighting effects from the flash of your weapons is superb. I didn’t notice the frames dropping either, which is pretty helpful in a game that requires you to be quick on the trigger. The fact that Bright Memory: Infinite rocks photorealistic visuals that put the game on by with some AAA offerings is even more impressive when you consider it was created by solo developer Zeng Xiancheng of FYQD-Studio.
For the most part, the visuals have been nothing short of a pleasure, aside from the decorative boats not sitting in the water properly, or the way enemy vehicles explode. To be honest, just that alone should be enough to warrant you taking a look if you have a current-gen console, especially since the game is a fairly short romp.
Following a special agent named Shelia, Bright Memory: Infinite takes us on a mission to a Chinese region to uncover the mystery behind its adverse weather conditions. Once Shelia arrives, though, it’s found that a black hole is connecting two worlds, and as always, there is a naughty antagonist behind it all. While the visuals here are nothing short of excellent, I found the story to be the game’s weakest element, unfortunately. With each campaign run taking around three to four hours to complete—you’ll need to run it on two different difficulty levels for their associated achievements; Bitter Rivals and Infinite — it can be a little unclear as to who is who and what is what as the story shifts so rapidly. Coming from a solo developer, the Bright Memory games feel more episodic, rather than feature-length additions, but I hope our next outing offers a little more in the way of story focus. There’s enough to give you a good idea of the plot line, though, so don’t worry about that, and it helps carry the game’s defining factor through each mission: the combat.
Action, action, action. Bright Memory: Infinite boasts some amazing combat scenarios, with each of the six missions tasking you with killing everything in your path to progress, whether that be the high-tech weaponry-wielding soldiers of the enemy organization or the ancient and mystical warriors crossing the rift between worlds, the combat in this game is bloody good fun. It’s a first-person shooter that gives you control of an assault rifle, shotgun, automatic handgun, sniper rifle, and katana, with each being equipped with special ammo or attacks that have differing effects. I’ve found each weapon to handle wonderfully, and they offer enough recoil and kickback to make them feel robust. While the katana is a great way to slice up your enemies up close and from afar, each blades in comparison to Shelia’s mech arm…oh yeah.
The mech arm is the most powerful and versatile piece of equipment in Shelia’s arsenal, and it’s capable of dragging enemies to you before causing them to explode into giblets — lift them helplessly into the air like a puppy grabbed by the scruff of the neck, blast inferno-like devastation in -front of you, or a host of other fantastic kinetic and elemental attacks. It’s by far one of my favorite things about Bright Memory: Infinite, and being able to take out weaker enemies with a hail of bullets, slide past a bigger one, and then double jump into the air before coming down on its head with a kinetic slam is most satisfying indeed.
While the abilities are strong against most enemies, they’re almost useless against the bosses on the game’s hardest difficulty, of which I found the tried and tested run-and-gun strategy to be the most fruitful. I think the issue is the upgraded versions of each attack (I’ll talk about upgrades in just a moment), which require you to double click and hold the abilities button to execute it, leaving you very open for attack. On the lower difficulties or against ‘trash mobs’ it’s not a problem, but when you’re fighting something that will take you down in a few hits, movement is absolutely paramount to your survival. It wasn’t too much of an issue, though, as I like being challenged to switch things up in an instant or risk being trodden on like a misplaced piece of Lego.
While the combat is fun, even the most difficult mode doesn’t quite offer a challenging run, aside from the four bosses of course. Enemies all spawn in the same locations without any extra backup, and while it might take a couple of extra bullets to drop them, it doesn’t offer the challenge I was expecting. It’s not that it needs to be harder for the sake of it being difficult, a game this short needs something to offer you some replayability value. Whether missions are given a stats screen so you can beat your run times, accuracy, potential deaths, etc, something needs to be added for those who enjoy the combat but don’t currently have a reason to return.
Each of Shelia’s abilities and weapons can be upgraded up to three times via a collectable upgrade currency called Reliquaries, which offer you improved effects and even unlock other moves to bring the hurt in your next encounter. This isn’t a game of build-creating, so everything you unlock will be available for you to use whenever you see fit (as long as you have the auto-regenerating energy available to spare at the time) and can carry across with each playthrough. That in itself is a great addition, so each time you decide to bump up the difficulty, everything is there to use from the start. Every new upgrade definitely helps Shelia feel like she’s made an improvement, with each effect causing a little more chaos when you’re battling it out with the enemy.
Ahh, video games, where style is always more important than practicality. While you can’t customize Shelia in the way of a build or unlockable, there are various character and weapon skins available to you right from the main menu. You’re given an assortment of colorways for your guns, new styles for the sword, and various outfits to adorn Shelia in, from more pragmatic outfits like combat attire to bikinis and dresses. Personally, I like having the choice right up front and available to change just by popping back to the menu, and for players that like to head into battle wearing skinny jeans and a pair of trainers, the choice is available to them.
What’s not available, though, and it’s very noticeable from the start, is the lack of accessibility options. There just isn’t anything aside from some subtitle options. This is something that I hope will be addressed in the future, and while it’s not something I need myself; it will make it difficult for some players to experience this promising new franchise and seeing as it’s not overly long and lacks any replayability right now, it’s going to need those player numbers.
The achievements reflect the short game length too, with my nine hours of playtime seeing me unlock all 30 of the available Bright Memory: Infinite achievements. Some are a little grindy, such as the weapon kills achievements for killing 150 enemies a piece, but even they can almost be completed during the Revenge and Hell difficulty runs you need to do. In fact, there isn’t much here that’s going to cause you any trouble at all, so it’s easily a sub ten-hour completion for most players. The final boss on your Infinite (Hell) un is likely the only time you’ll be held up — but you might be better than me, so what do I know?
Bright Memory: Infinite is a promising new entry from a small studio, with visuals and a gameplay loop that give it the opportunity to sit alongside some of the heavy hitters in the genre. While it’s lacking in a few elements that could carry it through to greatness, it’s also dripping with potential and could be the start of a successful franchise if FYQD-Studio polishes some of the game’s weak. All-in-all, it’s a short romp through action-focused levels that’s sure to offer any FPS fan a burst of fun and have them feeling like a killing machine in the process.
* Tom spent around nine hours destroying things with Shelia’s mech arm, unlocking all 30 of the game’s achievements. A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher and played on Xbox Series X.