Bright Memory Infinite turned out to be a game that can go either way on the scale for the average player but nonetheless impressive work for what is essentially a one-man studio.
What is it? An FPS game with a focus on stylish combat
Reviewed on: PC - Ryzen 5 3600, Radeon RX 5700 XT, 16GB RAM
Developer: FYQD Studio
Publisher: FYQD Studio, PLAYISM
Release date: November 12, 2021
Available on: PC
FYQD Studio produced Bright Memory: Infinite as a direct response to the fans' request for more content in the original Bright Memory but with the game being mostly Zeng Xian Cheng's labour of love and solo project showed both positive and negative sides prominently.
There isn't much storytelling in Bright Memory: Infinite , although an attempt at it was made. The protagonist, Shelia, is a member of the SRO and she gets called in during her time off. You are barely introduced to the enemies through Director Chen's briefing, which works and doesn't, in equal measure.
Playing with the English audio, I found the voice acting from the Director is pretty good and his lines fairly well written for the role. His voice gives you an impression of an urgent matter that is being handled with military precision which is perfectly on point with the plot of the game.
However, Chen's voice often gets drowned out by the sounds of action and even if he's talking while you're not in combat, ambient sounds will be louder, preventing the players from hearing most of what he's saying. Subtitles mitigate this issue to an extent but you can't really focus on the combat and reading the text at the same time, making this the first glaring issue I found in BM:I.
By the end of the game, I found no memorable encounters story-wise but there is only so much you can stick into a 120 to 150-minute adventure. In the end, the story was lacklustre, with only a few bright spots but a pretty good twist at the very end.
Gameplay is where Bright Memory: Infinite is supposed to shine. You can absolutely see the vast ambition and heart the developer poured into creating the gameplay loop. However, it also looks like there was just too much on the plate for a solo developer to handle and you can also notice the gameplay showing cracks at the seams.
For example, there is a lot of fancy movement Shelia can perform, like double jumping, dashing and sliding but all of it ends up being rigid without a way to fluently transition from one type of movement to another. A dash will have a slight delay before you can jump or you won't even be able to dash at times due to the control layout. You can only dash backwards or to the side, not forward, which took a giant chunk of opportunities to slice up enemies in a quick action with your katana.
Speaking of weapons, they are all very satisfying to use and have distinct roles. The assault rifle and the handgun might be a bit similar at times but even then, the rifle excels at precision bursts while the handgun is better at disposing of groups of enemies, thanks to its ricochet capabilities. On top of that, the special ammunition gives each weapon an additional role and the aforementioned pistol features an under-barrel attachment that turns it into a grenade launcher. Pretty cool, isn't it?
That said, gunplay can often suffer from the AI having the equivalent of a blatant wall-hack and they just keep mindlessly shooting even when you're behind cover. On the other hand, this is made by a single developer and the AI could easily be used in a Ubisoft game without noticing any difference.
The gunplay is further hampered by the odd focus on positioning everything at the centre of your screen, which in turn makes it harder to deflect enemy projectiles with an otherwise fantastic defensive mechanic for your sword.
On the topic of cluttering the centre of the screen, there is a stealth section of the game that requires players to carefully sneak up behind enemies but that's a bit hard to do because Shelia apparently prefers looking at a cleaver instead of the enemy positions in this situation.
Boss battles were the absolute highlight for me as they ended up being the only part of the game that actually spurs me to use all the available tools and pushes me to the limit, creating some awesome action pieces in the process, which are what this game does best. Unfortunately, outside the boss battles, this rarely happens due to the mechanics of the game slowly pushing players into the slow and steady playstyle.
Graphics and sound
Besides the boss fights, graphics were the standout point for me. It is quite incredible to see a single person could develop a game with graphics that focus on realism but still looks so stunning. When studios without massive resources create a beautiful game, it is usually due to a great choice of art style but there is no such thing here - FYQD went for realism and still provided eye candy that will leave no player indifferent.
Neither words nor screenshots in this review can do the graphics justice but while this aspect of the game is top-notch, it is held back by several problems, one of them being the audio design, at least partially.
The audio itself is not bad, it melds well into the atmosphere of Bright Memory: Infinite but the aforementioned imbalance between spoken dialogue and other sounds does dampen the mood. Spatial sound has dinks in its armour as well, with enemies sometimes sounding as if they were in a different position than they are in, relative to Shelia.
When you combine the two and start looking at the system requirements and eventual performance of the game, it is still something to behold. It is hard to believe the rather humble PC requirements are enough to run such a beautiful game but FYQD did an amazing job on this front and it's worthy of every praise.
I did have two crashes during my playtime with Bright Memory: Infinite and the game eventually stopped launching at all unless I chose the DirectX 12 option.
Graphics are an important part of video games but that alone is not enough to carry the rest of the product, as we've seen countless times in the past. Thankfully, Bright Memory: Infinite's shortcomings are not too crippling, even though they are quite obvious.
With vague and at times incoherent storytelling, BM:I is not in line for any awards for writing but the focus of the game is definitely on gameplay and graphics. Unfortunately, the former is hampered by the rigidity of the movement and weak AI but the sheer amount of options on how to end Shelia's enemies makes up for it, partially.
Should the player focus on sightseeing or creating attractive action montages, Bright Memory: Infinite will prove to be a playground straight out of your dreams but if you play it any other way, it will end up a forgettable experience. As such, the game is an acquired taste that is bound to divide opinions of the gaming community and the verdicts will be found at the extremes of both ends of the scale.
Keep in mind this game has only two to two and a half hours worth of content and relies on you replaying it in order to collect all the achievements and eventually extend it enough to justify the price.