Bright Memory: Episode 1 – Early Access Impressions

Whilst browsing the Steam store, an Early Access game popped up called Bright Memory Episode 1. After sitting on the fence for a while, I decided to give it a go. Considering it was developed entirely by one guy in his spare time, it’s impressive what has been done here.

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There’s little story to pay attention to here.

The first thing you notice when you boot up Bright Memory is just how visually impressive the game is, looking like a full AAA title. The main menu alone showcases this wonderfully with great character models and environmental design. This transitions over to the gameplay as well. The visual design is distinctive and awesomely blends science fiction with fantasy. Most impressively however, is how well the game performs despite looking this good and being in early access. It manages to maintain a high frame rate at all times with only a few noticeable drops and stutters.

Content is very light in the early access release, only lasting about 40-50 minutes for a single playthrough. There isn’t an awful lot to cover, but what is there shows a lot of promise to eventually be a great game. In that 40 minutes you will face down against soldiers, monsters, and even a couple of boss fights. It’s a surprisingly packed and varied opening chapter for the game. Something I’m definitely looking forward to playing more of as it comes closer to release.

Combat is reminiscent of the new Shadow Warrior games with tight controls and weapons that just feel powerful. Shelia can dash and jump around with incredible speed and agility. She is equipped with three weapons; a pistol, an assault rifle, and a shotgun all of which feel good to use. She also has access to a wide variety of abilities. Killing enemies will net Shelia some experience which she can use to augment her abilities and even unlock entirely new ones. They have a wide range, from the ability to create time stopping bubbles that freeze enemies, to powerful AOE attacks that send enemies flying into the air. The only weak link in the abilities I tried is the grappling hook, which is worthless in combat and just awkward whilst navigating the environment. In the full game I’d love to see more weapons and powers introduced and the controls further tweaked to be a bit more intuitive.

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Combat is engaging.

The two boss fights in the game were rather weak and dull. This is by far the weakest part of the short experience. Just run backwards in circles and keep firing whilst occasionally dodging or using your abilities. The only time they provided some challenge is when they spawned the more interesting mob enemies.

The dialogue is all in Chinese with English subtitles. The voice acting isn’t very good and just comes off as dull. Thankfully, the soundtrack so far makes up for it with great rock themes during battle. As for the subtitles, there are a few issues here and there, but for the most part everything is easy to understand and will likely improve in the final version. There’s very little story content in the early access version and whilst it’s way too early to judge, it’s a promising start.

Beyond additional weapons, abilities, and gameplay tweaks there are few more things that I’d like to see in the full version. Sheila having more movement options such as sliding could open up even more combat opportunities. Improved boss fights with more challenging moves that don’t involve summoning minions would be refreshing. I’d love more of the futuristic setting and a deeper story, maybe with audio/text logs and a reworked grappling hook with more opportunities to use it.

Bright Memory Episode 1 is currently in Early Access and is expected to leave sometime in 2019. Even though there isn’t a lot of content in the game right now, I would still recommend checking this out for the asking price.

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