Shiny graphics covering a thick layer of clunkiness.
Genre: FPS, Action
Publisher: FYQD-Studio, PLAYISM
Release date: 12 November, 2021
It seems like the other day when the original Bright Memory got out: an incredible title, with astonishing graphics, considering the one-man team that developed it. Now, one year and a half later, we are readying for the release of Bright Memory: Infinite. Considering the great work done with the previous chapter and the fact that the team got expanded, I was expecting great things from Infinite. Unfortunately, throughout the whole experience, the game keeps stumbling between bugs and a plethora of problems that could easily be avoided.
Let’s start with the story. The first thing I will say is that it is not the main focus of the game. Clearly. You are a member of the SRO (Supernatural Science Research Organization) and are sent investigating the source of a powerful storm, which reveals be nothing less than a weird black hole, causing quite a lot of commotion in the area: from electromagnetic pulses to weird demon-warriors coming from the past, there are a lot of things to take care of. Oh, and besides for the black hole, a rival organization is trying to stop you from investigating the anomaly. What is happening here??
The story is used as little more than glue between the various sections of the game and to give you a reason for all the shooting and slashing that you will do during the game’s duration, which is around 3 hours. The game is, like its predecessor, very linear and doesn’t allow the player for much exploration either: levels are basically long corridors and, more often than I would like, the levels’ limits and not even well-hidden. The game often uses years-old solutions that now feel really out of place, like small objects to stop your advance or even pits that instantly kill you even if they are not deep at all. In this regard, it can become frustrating to jump from a platform during a fight, thinking that you’ll still be in the map, just to die and reload the checkpoint. Even worse, during some platforming sessions, these pits are placed to make you use the suit’s powers, but it is frustrating to watch your character die to a 2-3 meters fall when 10 seconds later she jumps from double the height like nothing happened.
In its current state, the biggest problem of Infinite it’s not its story or the bugs, but the clunkiness that pervades every aspect of the game. Movement, shooting and even melee fighting feel all very “robotic” and not fluid at all and, once again, some of these problems could easily be avoided. Let’s take reloading as an example: bullets get actually reloaded not when the character inserts the mag into the gun and not even when she cycles it, but only after having it firmly in her hands. And if you do anything besides moving in that short delay between the gun cycling and grip, the reload interrupts and you will have to do it again. This happened to me countless times, especially with slower weapons like the shotgun, and after a while gets incredibly frustrating.
Besides the reload animations, shooting lacks fluidity but is otherwise pretty good. What is instead very lacking is melee fighting, with unprecise registration of hits, especially when enemies are not perfectly at the center of your screen. You usually have to squish against the enemy in order for your melee attacks to register, with makes melee fighting a little too confusing, since all you see on the screen is the enemy and the random attack effects of your energy blade. The stealth session of the game suffers the same fate: it feels clunky, unpolished and it adds very little to the overall experience.
The aspect of Bright Memory: Infinite that struck me the most (negatively) is its polish. For a 3 hours-ish game, many aspects are extremely unpolished, sometimes with weird mechanics acting as (I hope temporary) band-aids. Let’s take ammunitions as an example: if you die and respawn at a checkpoint, the ammo you used after that checkpoint are not regenerated. This means that dying over-and-over in the same checkpoint can leave you with no ammunition in your guns. But, what’s worse, is the game’s fix for this: instead of properly managing checkpoints, the game implemented a mechanic so ridiculous that, at first, I thought it was a bug. Basically, if you reach a checkpoint with no ammo for a gun, they get replenished. This is wrong on many levels: first of all, special ammo are not replenished, so if you use them against a boss and then die, they are lost forever. Second, some boss fights are very long, especially the last one, so starting one with only half of the total bullets capacity can make it much harder to complete.
Other problems in this regard come from the trigger system of the game, since many of the events in-game are triggered when all enemies inside a fight die: it happened to me multiple times to get enemies stuck behind walls. This makes them invincible, forcing you to reload manually the checkpoint, as you can’t progress further into the game. Enemies can often shoot you through solid objects and sometimes can get stuck in the geometry of the game, meaning that they just stand still. Oh, and the game crashed on me multiple times during my three hours playthrough.
If there is one aspect that I can’t criticize about Bright Memory is its graphics: they are, simply put, stunning. Considering the small development team, environments, enemies, bosses and effects all look incredibly good. The game also supports technologies like Ray Tracing, Reflex and DLSS, although the implementation of the latter is not the best I’ve ever seen and it can leave some artefacts or noise on the screen, something that because extremely obvious when there is a lot of water on the screen. Considering the graphics, the game runs smoothly enough, and I was able to play at 2K/60 fps using DLSS quality and ray tracing, on a laptop with an RTX 3070 140W.
Bright Memory: Infinite is, simply put, a title with too many problems. Yes, the title was developed by a small team, but it’s short, clunky and very unpolished. I would advise giving it some time to solve its biggest problems. After that, the title can be fun, although a little bit short for the price.