Short and sweet. Those are the two words that describe Bright Memory, a first-person action-shooter made by one-man indie development studio FYQD-Studio. The game released out of Steam Early Access earlier this year.
Bright Memory opens with the protagonist infiltrating some sort of futuristic research facility, everything went wrong and the player must guide Shelia through an ancient ruin. The storyline revolves around an ancient sword relic that has the power to recall dead creatures.
The game starts off strong in a sense that the player does not know what is going on, but at least they know what is about to come: more action. However, the game kills the momentum by implementing some platforming. This matters little as the game pays you off with some good room-clearing action. After you clear the room, make your way to the next. Rinse and repeat.
For as small as this game is, it looks fantastic. The game looks almost as good as a triple-A title but the use of random assets makes the whole experience looked tacked on. Bright Memory does not seem consistent with its aesthetic. For now, it seems like this is a negative, but if the Bright Memory: Infinite is able to explain the seemingly random asset use, it can easily turn into a positive.
The game features an efficient user interface, a dying breed for video games, and it is much appreciated here. The interface only shows necessary button prompts with a tasteful implementation of a simple ammo counter for a futuristic look and it works perfectly.
Bright Memory's gameplay consists of clearing rooms full of enemies as stylistically as possible. Similar to the Devil May Cry franchise, the player is ranked based on his performance in combat. Players will encounter futuristic soldiers, rats from Warhammer: Vermintide 2, to zombies with swords. There is a variety of bullet sponges for you to kill here but you have seen them all after one run.
The abilities used in combat are varied and interesting but just like the enemy models, you will have seen them all after one or two runs. Players can toss enemies in the air, slash them with swords, throw lightning, and even grapple your enemies mid-air. More options and upgrade paths would be greatly appreciated going forward.
The weaker part of Bright Memory's gameplay is its platforming sections and the puzzles that go along with it. There was only one puzzle included in the original game but it was as generic as can be. The platforming sections are a bit finicky. You have to jump over chasms and pitfalls, which is not challenging in itself, but the grapple mechanic implementation made it so. You cannot use your grapple after a jump and that can result in unfortunate deaths.
In terms of storytelling, the game does not give much information during gameplay. You just know that your name is Shelia and something went wrong while on an infiltration mission. A rift opens and Shelia is transported somewhere else. The presentation itself is good, but the way the narrative was set up did not entice. I felt like the game did not establish well why we were infiltrating a facility or why we were shooting zombies. Hopefully, this is not an indication of Bright Memory: Infinite's narrative quality.
Development studio FYQD-Studio is currently working on Bright Memory: Infinite, which is reportedly taking Bright Memory's place once it releases on Steam and expands upon the original experience. Players who own the first game will receive Infinite as a free upgrade automatically.
Despite the lack of a significant plot, wonky platform controls, and random aesthetic choices, the game is worth the price. The combat feels fast and exciting, and pulling off combos and aerial acrobatics are rewarding because of its learning curve.
If you are considering picking this title up, the question is whether its combat mechanics can make you overlook its average storyline. If Bright Memory: Infinite fixes everything that is wonky or missing, it is safe to say that the game can be a bright memory of the future.