Review: Bright Memory: Infinite (Nintendo Switch)
Have you ever played a game where at no point did you understand what was going on? If so, you understand exactly how it feels to play Bright Memory Infinite. While its actual gameplay is fun, the rest is an almost absolute, incoherent mess. What am I doing? The game tells you but at the same time also tells you nothing. Why am I doing the things in the game? ‘For reasons’, you’re simply told. It’s incredibly hard to follow throughout your time with Bright Memory Infinite. While it’s not bad overall, there are certainly better first-person shooter/action games available to play on Switch.
One of the stand-out parts of Bright Memory Infinite is its gameplay. The easiest way to describe it is a first-person shooter and action game mixed together. If you’re familiar with these franchises, think Mirror’s Edge mixed with GhostRunner. It’s an interesting mashup of the shooter and action genres and there’s a lot of fun to be had. Throughout your entire experience, you’re constantly having to mix parkour aspects of the game with carefully planning how to attack the legion of enemies in front of you. This strategy is even more elevated when you have to determine whether to shoot your enemies or use your sword for a close-range attack. Each method has its advantages but also comes with distinct disadvantages.
For instance, using your sword allows for strong close-range attacks and the ability to reflect bullets off your sword and back into the enemy. The downside? If there’s more than two enemies in an area, you will quickly be shot down by the remaining enemies who move to flank you. In a lot of ways the gameplay is fun and something I could sink dozens of hours into.
The problem with Bright Memory Infinite is that I have absolutely no idea what is going on at any moment in time. You begin by getting called to a secret mission on a remote island. It sounds simple enough until you realize that the game doesn’t actually tell you anything about your character, who is calling you, or why you’re going to this island. You’re told bad guys are on the island, which is fair enough, but I have no idea why they’re the bad guys. The game never tried to explain much further than that throughout your adventure. Things are happening, such as enemies appearing out of rips in space and all sorts of dialogue interruptions from some commanding officer, but you end up having no idea who they are, what they want, or what this has to do with you.
Even worse in my opinion is that some sections of the game seem like a cutscene that you watch except for the random quick time event they have thrown in. I’m not a fan of quick time events in games, that gameplay element has been used to death way too many times over the years, but you know what’s worse than simply having quick time events? If you fail any of them, you have to start again at the very beginning of said cutscene. This might set you back a mere 30 seconds or as far back as a few minutes.
Besides, having no clue what’s happening with the story, my other main issue with Bright Memory Infinite is that it feels more like a glorified tech demo than a video game. The tech behind the game is extremely impressive, especially when you discover that only one person made every single part of it. There are legit points that are so beautiful you would think it was being made by a few hundred people at a AAA developer. However, the full experience you enjoy feels more like someone trying to prove to a publisher that they can make this game if they got funding. Dialogue is somewhat laughable, environments are extremely repetitive, enemies are even more repetitive, and it feels like it’s over way too soon.
The overall experience seems to lack that polish that goes into a finished, full video game. One example can be found very early on. When I crash landed on the island at the beginning of the game, I was told to kill two enemies on the beach before I snuck into the secret fortress. When I got to the beach and pulled out my gun to shoot the enemies, they both disappeared into the ground. They were missing and because the game requires those two enemies to be eliminated before it lets you go forward, I was completely locked on the beach without the ability to go anywhere. Trust me, I tried. I tried climbing rocks, walls, and, at one point, I even tried to throw myself into the ocean, but the invisible walls stopped me from accessing any of those places. I literally had to reset the game, rewatch the opening cutscene and redo that first beach sequence before I could move forward.
Maybe that specific instance was a glitch that I ran into, and someone else might not, but it highlights something that’s not quite right. Some things work, some don’t, and many objects and people simply disappear for no reason whatsoever. It was fairly common to have to reload checkpoints because the thing I needed to do was suddenly gone.
In the end, is Bright Memory Infinite worth your time? In its present state, no. While I can appreciate the wonderful gameplay and can truly be impressed by the fact the game was made by one person, it’s simply not enough of an experience to justify a purchase. The game’s nonsensical story is extremely hard to follow to the point where I just stopped caring. It might be impressive looking, but frequent glitches, enemy desponds, and broken checkpoints frustrate the experience. It’s also over way too soon. Maybe if it goes on sale and more of the major glitches are fixed, then I would say try it out if you’re interested in first-person shooters and action games. For everyone else, it might be best to leave Bright Memory Infinite alone.