Everyone has that movie, album or game that despite how objectively flawed it is, you can’t help but love it. Sure, something like Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny isn’t by any means a masterpiece, but that didn’t stop us from watching it countless times. Bright Memory: Infinite fits into that guilty pleasure camp so well. We can’t give it a full recommendation, but we kind of loved it.
Bright Memory is a first-person shooter with a heavy focus on its melee elements. Made by a sole developer, Zeng "FYQD" Xiancheng, Bright Memory first released back in 2019 with ‘Episode One,’ but rather than opting to create a second episode, it was developed into Bright Memory: Infinite and released on PC in 2021, with console releases finally showing up this month.
Set in 2038, you assume the role of Shelia, a member of the Science Research Organisation (SRO) who is tasked with investigating an abnormal weather event. Once crash landing in the area, Shelia discovers a black hole has formed and that SAI, a rival military company, is in the area and that its leader, General Lin, is seeking an ancient artifact.
The plot is unintelligible at times. For example, at one point you’re knocked back by a blast, and when you wake up you’re suddenly fighting ancient warriors. The moment is given what is effectively a 'huh that’s weird' from the characters, and then for the rest of the game you fight a mixture of ancient warriors and SAI troopers with no more elaboration on their place. Honestly, it feels like you’ve been thrust into the plot of a game about five hours into the story, and considering how abruptly it ends it’s hard to get too invested.
Despite the Infinite in the title, Bright Memory is over in around two hours, and that isn’t two hours of pure gameplay; we’re including cutscenes in that tally. That being said, it's a wild two hours. Outside of the cutscenes, the game doesn’t slow down at all, and manages to hit you with some wild setpieces. From a random car chase mission to fighting enemies on the wings of a burning airplane straight into a scrap with some re-animated guardian lion statues. The game packs a Call Of Duty campaign's worth of setpieces into its short runtime. It also doesn’t really offer anything to do outside of the campaign aside from replaying at higher difficulties.
Where Bright Memory shines is in that core gameplay. Shelia is equipped with four guns, a sword, and ESP powers with her magic arm. The gunplay feels great; everything has a good weight to it aside from the shotgun feeling a bit underwhelming. Each weapon comes with an alternate fire, which are generally explosive and produce an obnoxious amount of screen shake in the shotgun and handgun's case. The melee combat is also surprisingly versatile with its own set of launchers, combos, and AoE attacks for both. You also have access to some good movement options like a seven-way air dash, rolls, slides, and even a grappling hook, which, sadly is completely underutilized due to it only being used on pre-determined grapple points.
While your combat mechanics and your kit feel great to use, it’s a shame that your adversaries aren't really worth it. Most enemies will go down without much of a fight, even on higher difficulties, meaning you don't need to use the majority of your kit as your AR and ESP suspension will suffice. Enemies can also be found running into walls, clipping into the environment, T-posing and aiming shots and grenades at the opposite end of the arena. The bosses fare better in the combat and AI departments, but there’s about four in the entire game.
Bright Memory can be a bit messy at times; we encountered several glitches such as you and enemies getting stuck in geometry, foes appearing out of thin air, and even a few crashes. The game runs fairly well on Switch, with handheld mode being a far smoother experience than docked mode. The game looks decent for the platform, too. However, some text elements like your gun's ammo counter, and even the credits, are extremely blurry, with the latter being near-illegible in handheld mode.
Bright Memory: Infinite is a short but could-be-much-sweeter shooter, and a hard one to recommend. It's glitchy, it has an incoherent story that ends abruptly, the AI is inconsistent, and the whole thing is over in just about two hours. And yet, in spite of all of that, we still had fun due to its strong core gameplay and frankly, ridiculous story and setpiece moments. For a game made by just one person, it has a really solid foundation and some impressive production values despite the glitches. However, it desperately needs further iteration to be worthy of recommendation for anyone outside of a select few.