No. Not Bright Memory Infinite that exploded onto Xbox’s digital stage at a recent press conference, but an approximately one-hour demonstration of the games combat and “sci-fi” like setting. While the game does a nice job of conveying its action sequences with truly interesting combat emphasized by bosses interspersed throughout, it really misses the beat on explaining its story and taking advantage of next-gen hardware.
Created by FYQD Studio, a one-man team, Bright Memory melds interesting ideas within its combat system. It really feels like a harkening to games like Singularity, Dishonored and a touch of Devil May Cry with its unique combat systems. You have your standard fare of ammunition weapons in a pistol, a shotgun and assault rifle, and they all feel serviceable. No weapons really stand out nor do they provide something that hasn’t been used time and time again in previous games. Throughout my hour or so I much preferred pretty much any other form of combat. Pumping a full clip or so into enemies just felt a bit out of place. Having said that, the visual flares such as adding the ammo in the clip and total ammo count just off of the weapon in the game world adds a nice touch, albeit even if it is a bit superfluous since I couldn’t imagine ever running out of ammo.
As much as the ammo-based weapons failed to inspire, the same cannot be said for your sword. One of your skills, which is cool-down based, allows you to slice apart enemies using the standard attack “light blade,” an alternate ranged attack “light slash” or an AOE attack with “blast slash.” Utilizing your sword ups the pace of the game and allows for fresh creativity that the guns just don’t offer. When you add in the various skills, the game begins to open up and shrugs off the monotony of its more traditional weaponry. Some of the skills at your disposal include an EMP to escape the hoards, a slo-mo orb to dilate time and a dash to escape trouble or thrust into it. The speed that you experience while combining skills shines a light on what the game wants to be but sadly fails to fully deliver.
The combat is wrapped in a technologically advanced-supernatural environment during 2020. You play as Shelia, who is part of the Supernatural Science Research Organization. As is usually the case, there is a terrorist organization looking to take control of a unique item, in this case “The Soul of Jiu Xuan,” which allows for the ability to reanimate the dead. The constraints of such a short experience certainly hindered the ability to convey a clear and concise story. It’s always a balancing act when blending in supernatural elements with anything, but I do have the feeling that in a full-fledged game this would be delved upon much further than the cursory glance that was received in Bright Memory.
Another oddity is the game’s menu system. It feels like it was ripped straight out of the PC version which released March 25, 2020. A slowly moving cursor controlled by your analog stick just doesn’t feel natural in its movement. It’s not that there aren’t a ton of games that use a cursor like this (Avengers and Destiny, most recently), but it just feels super sluggish navigating menus. Also, not being able to exit the menu with the face buttons is not inherently apparent; instead, you have to slug your cursor to the x in the top right corner of the menu. But as cumbersome as those were, there was an unexpected takeaway. There is a menu tab for performance that is ripped straight from the PC version. All the settings you’d imagine, one of those being v-sync which fixed all the tearing I had when firing up the game. It’s odd seeing such a menu in a console game, and I am unsure if this is something we should expect to see as home consoles begin to get closer to parity with PCs.
Bright Memory is $7.99 on Xbox Series S/X. It’s not necessarily polished, nor will it be a graphical showcase for your new hardware, but it does have some compelling concepts within its combat system and could provide an uncommon take on the sci-fi genre should its loose ends be sewn up when Bright Memory Infinite releases.