Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
When the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 came out in 2020, here at The A.V. Club we published little capsule reviews of as many new games as we could. One title that I was surprisingly struck by was Bright Memory, a first-person shooter that (as the legend goes, at least) was created by only one full-time developer and served as an excellent example of what the then-new generation of video game consoles were capable of. The shooter gameplay was okay, with magic powers and swords to shake things up, but it looked really nice and was obviously pulling as many little graphical gimmicks as it could—it is constantly raining in the Bright Memory world, for one thing.
Bright Memory was also extremely short, with developer FYQD and publisher Playsim admitting that a real full game called Bright Memory: Infinite would come out later. Infinite has been available on PC for a while, but now the Series X version is out, and let me tell you: I think it kind of fuckin’ rules.
Hold it up against something like Call Of Duty and the rough edges are obvious, but that kind of comparison only feels appropriate in the first place because the game looks so slick. There are particle effects everywhere, the art design (with an occasionally bonkers cross between sci-fi weaponry and Asian fantasy) feels weirdly tangible, and the constant rain and nice little pools of water just make everything look better.
Think of it as an indie game, though, made by a small team and with a small budget, and it’s pretty damn impressive. The combat, which involves fast COD-style shooting, Control-style superpowers, a Devil May Cry-style sword, and a God Of War quick-dodge, all feels really good. It never seems like you’re wrestling with controls or hitting your head against overly elaborate animations. The one shaky spot is the Titanfall 2-style parkour abilities, but the game seems to know they’re not as smooth as they were in that game—Titanfall 2, for the record, is the greatest first-person shooter ever made—so it’s very forgiving when it forces you to use them.
Really, Bright Memory: Infinite’s best stuff is just wisely lifted from some of the best games in its genre and others, which is something that 2D side-scroller indie games have been doing for decades. How many Metroid-style games are there made by small studios? How many games that aren’t Legend Of Zelda? I said when I wrote about Bright Memory in 2020 that the most exciting thing about it is that it shows what kinds of cool, technologically advanced indie games would be possible on these new game consoles (I know stuff like this has been happening on PC for a long time), and Infinite is—if nothing else—proof that I was totally right.