Bright Memory Infinite Review – A Metal Experience Let Down By Its Brevity
Bright Memory Infinite has so many moments that had me thinking, ‘what in the hell is going on?’ but this was never an unpleasant sensation. Far from it, I found the frenetic pace and larger-than-life action quite enjoyable. It has the same thrilling sense of possibility and what’s-going-to-happen-next uncertainty as the iconic action thrillers that was the staple of the likes of Keeanu Reeves, Nic Cage, and Steven Seagal in the 1990s.
You play as Shelia, an agent tasked with stopping a paramilitary organisation when a black hole appears in the sky and ancient Chinese mythical beings and soldiers begin entering our realm. The game takes place across the riverine landscape of southern China, with its charismatic karst and pagodas. I found it very refreshing to see this futuristic vision of China realised, as the story has sci-fi elements, while legendary beasts and demons from the country’s folklore try to murder you. Thankfully, Shelia has quite a few weapons at her disposal to tear them to pieces and defend herself.
Combat harkens back to any number of titles. It feels like a mixture of Advanced Warfare’s boost movement and Ghostrunner’s parkour, sliced with the combat and soul-collecting of Onimusha but all in first person. You can shoot through enemies with several different guns, all of which are satisfying to use, and their alternate ammo, you can slice and dice with a sword, or you can use your Exo Unit which can pull enemies towards you and explode their bodies into a bloody mess. Yes, it’s as wonderful as it sounds.
Bright Memory Infinite gleefully takes its inspirations from all over the place, like the proverbial kid in a candy store, except this glee is only sweet because the game manages to balance and implement these influences so well. This game being the work of a single individual only makes it all the more impressive.
The campaign has you discovering relics to turn into reliquaries which can be used to upgrade your weapons, boosting the Tractor Beam or Quake Punch for your Exo Unit, for example, or your guns and blade. Combining these weapons was joyful in combat; boost dodging felt great, as did the swordplay and shooting. The game doesn’t stay still either, it wants to try all sorts as it keeps you moving with the everchanging action.
I don’t want to spoil all the surprises that await in Bright Memory Infinite, but let’s just say that it’s totally fearless in moving around different genres while pulling you into jaw-dropping set pieces, all soundtracked by a wild see-sawing erhu.
Playing on PS5 I was pleased to see there were options for either ray tracing or higher performance (up to 120fps but I didn’t have a monitor to test this). Ray tracing was actually noticeable although not in any way essential to the experience. But one bugbear was the slowdown during combat and transitions, which in a game as fast paced as this can spoil things somewhat. Switching to the higher framerate mode didn’t alleviate this issue either.
However, the biggest disappointment is the brevity of the campaign. It took me less than two and a half hours to finish the story, and I felt it could’ve been extended. It’s a shame because the ideas – from the platforming sections to the stealth and driving and so much else – were so enjoyably seized upon that I was left wanting more. After finishing, I immediately started the campaign again on the higher difficulty while different outfits for Shelia unlocked, offering some dubious options.
It’s a little hard to rate this game. It’s an impressive achievement for a solo developer and I loved the imaginative setting and off-the-wall story, while the combat felt powerful and satisfying. But I want more and plenty might find the campaign all too brief. And yet, while it plays and you’re slicing and shooting some Chinese stone lion turned into a hench beast, it can feel glorious. It leaves a bright memory indeed. One, however, that may be just a quick flash.
A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
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