Bright Memory: Infinite
After revisiting and trying out the new content for Shadow Warrior 3 Definitive Edition, I was motivated to try a game that has been sitting in my backlog for a few months. Bright Memory: Infinite and Shadow Warrior 3 have a lot in common, with both games being a part of the same genre of “Boomer Shooters.” These are games where it’s one person with an army-sized number of weapons against, well, an entire legion of enemies. Weapons that make enemies explode on impact, pick apart from a distance or even slice into ribbons from close range.
Not all “boomer shooters” require robust melee combat, or the parkour/freerunning similar to Apex and Titanfall. These two games not only utilize these characteristics but there are also more similarities between them than I realized. Bright Memory: Infinite’s setting is in a “near-future” urban environment that constantly fluxes between ancient East Asian mythology and the present time period. One moment, Shelia fights super soldiers from an army, and in the next, she fights off against spectacular warriors. There is a greater reasoning behind this, but understanding the plot isn’t too much of a requirement to enjoy Bright Memory: Infinite.
Essentially, the plot revolves around a super soldier named Shelia who fights off against a rival military corporation to prevent them from obtaining ultimate power all the while everything gets sucked into this black hole. The location they are fighting on happens to be tied to ancient grounds, which rouse up the spirits yet these ancient warriors somehow take their anger out on Shelia exclusively and not just the rival military corporation who also had a hand in waking the dead. Shelia is tied to all of this, which gets revealed as the game progresses, but as with almost every “Boomer Shooter,” the plot plays second fiddle to the spectacle.
To my surprise, my first impression of Bright Memory: Infinite was how solid the presentation was. It became obvious when certain art directions were used to have the developer flex their artistic muscle when the time called for it. An example is some of the early levels, with Shelia observing the city from her penthouse during a downpour. The rain helps brighten up some of the game’s environment, with reflections cast along the buildings, houses, and the ground itself. There was never a moment where I felt the brightness was “muddled,” but it had that sort of contrast that made it feel like Call Of Duty or any AAA shooter.
Other moments where the graphics wound up surprising me were the little things, such as the smoke trail from Shelia’s AR after firing multiple shots. Each weapon has an alt-fire capability that doubles the utility of each firearm, such as throwing grenades with a handgun or turning a shotgun into a rocket launcher. Guns with “alternate fire” modes are a cost-efficient way to increase the total weapon count as it completely alters how the original gun operates without including a new model altogether. However, the main star of Bright Memory: Infinite’s gameplay is Shelia’s sword and “Exo” arm unit.
Initially, Shelia can use her sword as well as her cybernetic left arm to perform simple gestures like pulling enemies towards her and repelling them away. With enough upgrades, she can combine her abilities to create interesting scenarios such as suspending an enemy in the air with her cybernetic arm, leaping to the skies, and gutting her enemies in a fashion similar to Raiden in Metal Gear Rising. It never fully embraces the “first-person Devil May Cry” that the game teases, but it does one thing better than other similar games of its kind fall short—avoid being repetitive.
One of my main critiques with Shadow Warrior 3 was that after the first hour or so of gameplay, the player has seen most of what these games had to offer. In terms of the former, the game’s length makes it so that it doesn’t become overbearing, but both games suffer from a sense of repetitiveness. Bright Memory: Infinite narrowly avoids this by giving the player the ability to “choose” how to engage in combat. There’s never a risk of running out of ammunition and health restores over time so there was never a moment where I felt frustrated about dying to “one final enemy” before having to reset the entire wave.
It’s not all smooth sailing for Shelia and Bright Memory: Infinite—The stealth sections are easily some of the worst in the game. At one point, the player has no access to Shelia’s EXO unit, which means no cybernetic arm and most importantly no armor. Without it, Shelia has access to a rusty machete that for some reason she attacks slowly with it. The only plausible way to use it is by stealth killing the enemies on the way to Shelia’s destination. However, if Shelia is ever detected, every single soldier in the country swarms to her location and what’s worse, she is unable to outrun them. If it was possible to at least go into hiding until the heat clears, these sections would have been a lot less frustrating. Fortunately, this particular section was short and it isn’t long until Shelia obtains her weapons again.
Bright Memory: Infinite still receives updates, with its latest patch based on the Chinese New Year. As it is the Year of the Rabbit, many “Rabbit” inspired outfits were added for Shelia. There’s a modest amount of fanservice yet the outfits themselves are tasteful if not cliche for this kind of game. Perhaps the biggest update is an interesting camera perspective where if Shelia is moving about, the game shifts to a third-person behind-the-back perspective. When Shelia is shooting and/or using her sword, the perspective changes to first-person mode.
This actually helps a lot of the major issues I’ve had with Bright Memory: Infinite as in I wasn’t aware where enemies would spawn from until I would see my entire screen turn red. With the third-person perspective, Shelia doesn’t go into first person when she fires from the hip, meaning it’s far easier to fight larger monsters with a wide enough hitbox. Unfortunately, this game was created with “first-person mode” in mind, so the constant shift in perception turns dizzying. A suggestion would be to make all sword and EXO abilities third-person, only switching to first-person when the player enters ADS mode.
I prefer to play these games on a controller and it’s very gamepad friendly. Aim assist snaps onto the enemy with little difficulty, using a fully upgraded blade fires beams from the sword, turning it into a long-range weapon, and the player never feels like they are out of options. Even if the player runs out of base ammo, a well-timed parry can restore their resources and bring them back in the fight.
Despite its budget price, Bright Memory: Infinite packs a punch in terms of visuals and sound design. The guns sound impactful, explosions are plentiful, and it feels like the player is playing an interactive movie than a video game. However, it’s far too easy to go “out of bounds” by simply jumping and going where the player isn’t supposed to go. Each level is fairly linear and any chance of exploration is usually met with falling infinitely until the player is forced to restart via an earlier checkpoint.
I’d be more forgiving if glitching out of the map was a “one-time” thing or a rare occurrence. However, this tends to happen way too often for my liking and at one point I had to walk on virtual eggshells to ensure I didn’t accidentally jump into an endless void where what I once thought was a walkable environment. Some boundaries in-game would have helped a long way and honestly, it’s one of things preventing me from giving this game a solid three stars.
The other thing is the elephant in the room—the game’s length. Now I usually don’t knock a game for being “short,” as some of the most impactful games I’ve played happened to be a few hours long. I messed around and I was still able to clear the game in just over an hour. This pairs with the plot being very difficult to grasp, with several blink-and-you-miss scenes including a “driving escape sequence” that lasts all but a minute. Even the final boss felt like there was more to the game than I initially played and it wasn’t a challenge at all.
Once you unlock all of Shelia’s EXO skills, the game is trivialized. A Level 3 Rocket Punch is enough to annihilate every enemy in the game, including bosses. Not only does it deal a huge amount of damage, but it also leaves a trail of fire that deals damage over time. This means that Shelia can turn the arena into a smoldering pit while also stacking damage due to its considerable range. In the end, not even the final boss was enough to pose a challenge. The ending cutscene following this also did little to convince me that the game was over until the achievement notification popped up saying otherwise.
Learning about the history of Bright Memory: Infinite, I understand why. Originally, the game was released in 2020 with the intention of being an episodic release. The official Steam page states that it’s a sequel, but it’s a remake with a “fleshed-out story” and reimagined gameplay, similar to Jet Set Radio Future in comparison to Jet Set Radio. If the “one-hour length” is anything to go by, then Infinite is only marginally longer in length compared to the original Bright Memory. For a $20 price tag, it may sound steep but there are little glimmers of replayability such as playing it on harder difficulties.
It’s a shame because were it not for these flaws, I’d easily recommend Bright Memory: Infinite. The gameplay is entirely customizable to the player’s liking and when it becomes a bloody violent carnage of fun, the game is at its bright points. There are too many instances of the game packing in as many features as possible in a specific time frame rather than letting things flow naturally. Nothing from the final level made it any different from the rest of the game I played aside from the aforementioned “driving” section.
Despite this, while the fun is abruptly cut short, Bright Memory: Infinite is a great game when it allows itself to be great. There are far better games with attractive women protagonists if that’s your thing. I wouldn’t consider purchasing this game unless it’s on a deep discount, which was when I picked it up during the Winter Sale. I don’t regret my purchase but I would have gone easier on it had this been an Early Access title like others I’ve covered in the past. It’s a solid experience, but it suddenly loses whatever momentum it has by the end. Hopefully, this isn't the end we see of Shelia and the Bright Memory franchise as there's a lot of potential here to be had.
Bright Memory: Infinite is available on the Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5.