Updated: Nov 26, 2020
So, I think we all can agree that the Xbox Series S/X launch lineup wasn't all that strong. There are a few good games, sure – but overall there wasn't a real system-seller that made me say, “I HAVE to get a Series X for this game!” Granted I am enjoying my system, but aside from playing some older games or GamePass titles, I'm not floored by all that much.
One of the launch “games” for the Xbox Series S/X is Bright Memory, a new title from indie developer FYWD Personal Studio. And yes, I used the word games in quotes. To say that Bright Memory is a full-fledged video game would be a bit of a fib. In reality, it's a 45-minute or so playable prequel to Bright Memory Infinite, a game set to release in the near future on the Series S/X. And while I left the game asking more questions than I thought I would, it did turn out to be an enjoyable, albiet quick, ride.
Title: Bright Memory
Genre: FPS Action/Arcade
Modes: Single Player
Developer: FYWD Personal Studio
Publisher: AGM Playism
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Also on: PC
Release: November 10, 2020
I'm going to try to explain the plot as much as I can here, so please stick with me. Bright Memory gives you pretty much no backstory when you start up the game. You play as Shelia, who works for a top-secret government agency. There's an evil group of bad guys led by someone named Carter. Apparently they know each other somehow, and Shelia tries to take down their experiments. Things go awry, and everyone gets sucked into some kind of wormhole that brings them back in time or to another planet or something like that. But wait, it gets better.
You not only fight emeny soldiers, but zombies dressed in medeival garb, giant sabertooth tigers, winged creatures straight out of Resident Evil 5, and a couple Doom-ish bosses. Along the way, you'll solve some puzzles, do some platforming, and fight baddies. Then, the game just kind of “ends,” and you have the option to play again. So yeah, it left me scratching my head when all was said and done. But it must have done it's job well, because I am left more interested in the game from when I started.
Bright Memory is a first-person shooter, but it employs a lot of different genres as well. You'll be timing perfect jumps, swinging across gaps using a grappling hook, and using bionically-enhanced powers to take down enemies. While the combat is standard FPS, the added abilities make it feel fresh. By pressing left on the D-Pad, Shelia blasts an EMP, which causes time to slow down and enemies to get thrown up in the air. At that point, you can use Shelia's energy katana to slice 'n dice before time runs out. Reminiscent of Devil May Cry, utilizing a mixture of gunplay and swordplay keeps things interesting and fresh. Plus, it makes the game feel more “arcadey,” and a lot more fun when compared to a traditional FPS.
The game also has some light RPG elements. When you kill an enemy, they drop XP points, which you can then use to purchase upgrades. These range from a higher defense to faster sprinting, to earning more XP per kill. All of these are mainstay upgrades, but again does a lot to keep things fresh.
The presentation and graphics are very well done. It does have a next-gen look to it, but nothing too exciting. Character models can be bland and lifeless – Carter himself looks like something out of a Sega light gun shooter – which does distract a bit. Also, due to the fast-paced action in the game, I did notice quite a bit of screen tearing, but this wasn't anything that ruined the game. The soundtrack is fast and fits the gameplay. During puzzle sections, it's light an ominous, but when you're taking on hordes of zombies, the heavy metal guitar rock kicks in and you feel the adrenaline pumping.
Bright Memory may be nothing more than a playable preview of things to come, but for $7.99 you'll get about three-plus hours of entertainment (with mutliple playthroughs and costumes to unlock). I really wish I knew more of the lore behind this game. Even an opening trailer with some exposition would be beneficial, but at the end of the day I did have fun with this. If you just picked up a system and are looking for something new to play, this may be worth a look. I can tell you it's now on my radar.
Final Grade: B+