Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Having originally released on the PC in Early Access last year, Bright Memory by developer FYQD-Studio is not only one of the several launch titles for the Xbox Series X, but it’s also our first Series X review! Set sometime into the future, you’ll be hacking, slashing and shooting your way in a first person style as Sheila as she tries to stop an event from happening and instead finds herself on a weird floating island in the arctic.
Now this is a little hard one to review. On one hand, you have an amazing fast paced and easy to use gameplay and combat system. On the other hand, it’s only half an hour long. Titled Episode 1, it’s clear that there will be “more” at some point down the line especially since it leaves things off basically mid scene. Due to the length of it it though, Bright Memory felt more like a Prelude that certain developers have started to make in order to showcase what’s to come while working on the final product. Bright Memory Infinite is slated for 2021 and its supposed to continue the story that is really only hinted at and I can only hope that it does indeed release next year.
The above said, wow. Not only is everything running very smoothly, but for a project that started as a one man development team, the hack & slash first person shooter elements are better than some AAA studios. As Sheila, you’ll be playing in a first person mode with access to these weapons. A pistol, a submachine gun, and I think it was supposed to be a shotgun? Side to these three weapons you have abilities like launching an EMP, lightning blasts, blade barriers and your sword that can work in close to mid range combat. More than having each of these, they work so well together that you’ll often not even notice your fingers gliding across your controller as you fight your way through normal enemies and the two major boss fights.
Other than a really neat nod to From Software’s Dark Souls series which can be seen in the below two screenshots, the first boss fight let me know what a Dark Souls esque boss fight would be like if I had modern / futuristic weaponry. Split into phases, boss fights will test your skills with the system as you’ll need to move fast, dodge left, right and back all while using your sword or your guns to slowly chip away at their health bars. It’s intense. Even a few playthroughs down with newer abilities as you may get a bit complacent being tougher but find yourself dead because they still hit very hard. My only issue with the system is that you can’t dash forwards alongside the left, right, and backwards dodging.
From a presentation standpoint, Bright Memory looked and sounded amazing. Having my Series X hooked into my Samsung QLED finally truly let me know what I’ve been hoping to see. While a PS4 Pro can “play in 4k” most titles have not been designed for it and at the time of this writing, my PS5 is in the mail and slated to arrive tomorrow, which while reading this article, would be yesterday. Audibly, Bright Memory has a high impact soundtrack while fighting which helps keep you focused on the fast paced action and in the moment. Outside of combat, things smooth over letting you know that it’s ok to relax for a moment or two. The blending felt rather seamless which is what you want when you have this style of fast paced action.
Because of the length of Bright Memory, there’s no time even while playing through it three times for the achievements and gamerscore for it to overstay its welcome. I seriously wish that there was more and if there was one issue it would be that. It feels like a taste and once you really get into things, it ends. I had hoped that by going back through something new would unlock, but no. The one thing really going for it outside of its amazing combat and gameplay though is that even up here, in Canada, Bright Memory has a price tag of $10.29 which I think is an absolute steal as I would have easily paid $20 or more for what I got out of it.
So overall, for a launch title, Bright Memory even while super short and basically being a tech demo, for how pretty things can look and sound, is still an amazing fast paced experience. At twenty-five to thirty minutes per playthrough, and a total of three to get everything, I would say pick it up and enjoy it as it’s really hard to go wrong especially at its current price tag.Score: 8 / 10