You might have heard about Bright Memory: Infinite, as “that really pretty action game made by a single developer”. The first iteration, named just “Bright Memory”, was a short game that boasted impressive visuals and frenetic shooting/slashing. It looked cool, but didn’t play as it should. Now, the same solo developer expanded on their ideas and made a new version of the game.
Bright Memory: Infinite is this new, updated form and it is an upgrade for sure, but still leaves room for improvement. Some problems are especially annoying, others are just a bit old-fashioned, but in general this is a good, fun experience, worth playing if you’re a fan of the genre.
It’s a linear game, almost on-rails to be frank, that pits you against SWAT-like enemies, giant mythological creatures and old-timey soldiers donning swords and shields. You are Shelia, a woman wearing some super tech that allows her to be a super soldier of sorts. Shelia can run on walls, double-jump, make enemies fly via telekinesis, she can shoot guns and slice with swords. So, the shootouts look somewhat like this: you pull the sniper-wielding enemy with your telekinetic arm, you let him float thus making him useless in battle, you dodge bullets by blink-stepping sideways, you run towards a soldier, hit him with a sword uppercut, raise him and keep attacking on the air.
The fights are always full of adrenaline; fast, unrelenting, difficult enough and just plain fun. The guns kick as they should, the sounds are satisfying, there’s a lot of gore and dismemberment, movement is fluid and the sword feels great. Bosses shake things up and make you more dodgey than normal, and some enemies that hold shields or wear armor have you depleting their shield bar first by countering their attacks. Also, you can upgrade your skills and attacks in a very simple skill tree. There’s some light platforming too, and the controls are decent. There’s enough variety here and most systems are well-made enough.
The first problem is found in the narrative. Well, it just doesn’t make any sense. I played through the campaign twice and still cannot tell you what was happening. Some big, sci-fi phenomenon is disrupting the world, a huge hole in the sky or something like that. Then, some organizations do things for reasons, and they fight too, and then the world is connected to another dimension or another time period, or both, and monsters start showing up. I really don’t know why this happened, or how it resolved. I don’t know who the characters are and why they fight. I wasn’t expecting this to be a story-driven game, but it should at least make sense and provide a backdrop for all the action. Shelia is cool, I would like to know more about her and to care about her fight.
Then, there are some smaller things. The pathfinding, for instance, is too old-fashioned. All levels are linear, to a fault so, and still you can’t find your way. You will hit invisible walls, you will find an open door but to get inside you will have to kill all enemies, you will see giant arrows painted on walls to indicate a wall-run spot. It’s all a bit too overused at this point and we have seen better ways of guiding the player. Also, the story is very short, around 2 hours, and the gameplay doesn’t get the opportunity to unfold. Everything happens way too fast and then it’s over.
Other annoyances occur in QTE segments, that are not clear enough and lead to death more often than not, in unskippable cutscenes that repeat every time you lose, in the enemy AI that is too simplistic -some of them just stand there, looking but not attacking. Weapon switching is too slow, the level design is not very engaging, the character models are stiff and wooden. However, these problems, although they do impact the experience, are not enough to completely destroy it. It is still a fun game, really cool, quick, and very pretty.
Visually, it is a treat. It’s not an AAA title and it shows in some areas, but for a game of its caliber Bright Memory: Infinite hits all the right spots. Visual effects ramp up the immersion -huge storms, lightning strikes and rain everywhere. You will battle your way up on an airplane’s wings, you will drive a car through the rain, you will see and do impressive things in this 2 hour ride. The enemy designs are interesting too, as are the environments. It’s a mix of approaches: a part futuristic sci-fi and one traditional myth. The result is exciting and the short running time makes sure that it doesn’t get boring, because there’s not enough variety in visual style to keep it going for long.
All is well, mostly. Fun mechanics, strong visuals, good sound effects (albeit, a forgettable soundtrack). Then, we hit the game’s most striking mistake: a stealth segment. Bright Memory: Infinite is made of steel, blood and lightning. I play this game for a sci-fi power trip. I play to jump, slice, dodge and kill. I surely don’t play to hide with a knife in hand. This is exactly what this game does, though. At some point, it takes away all your fancy moves and leaves you walking slowly and hiding from enemies. There’s an instant fail if you get caught, you have no skills, no weapons. The enemy AI is not good enough to make things interesting.
The level design is not either, as it’s absolutely linear. So, we’re left with an ill-advised part of the game that is making all the mistakes it could make, and then lasts for quite a long time. If this was a longer game, a stealth part that takes away your powers might be a good choice to spice things up. In a game that takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to end, this is a wrong decision and one that really hammers the pacing of the action.
Anyway, problems aside, this is an impressive piece of work. Even if you don’t take into account the fact that it’s made by a single person, it’s still a decent game. For fans of lightning-fast action that mixes melee combos with ranged combat, it will be a fun little treat. Just know what to expect.