Bridge Constructor Portal (£6.99 on Steam) takes the physics mechanics from Bridge Constructor and blends them with the puzzle mechanics from Valve’s famous Portal. With GLaDOS as our instructor and set in the delightfully familiar Aperture Testing Labs, it’s a delightful nod to a much loved series.
In Bridge Constructor we are given the task of getting our cargo from point A to B by building a bridge. We also have drivers and some helpers but don’t worry about them. Squish them to your hearts content. It uses precise physics mechanics with a combination of scaffolding and wires, so this game will be a lot easier for those with an understanding of building principles. As an engineer, my husband scoffed at my pathetic attempts to solve the game and kept yelling at me that I wasn’t building it structurally sound. Nonetheless, you can find a solution even if you have no background in this area, but it won’t always be pretty, so don’t show it to any professionals. I must admit I had the most fun when my cars flipped out 6 times and eventually spun and pushed each other over the victory line.
If you’ve played Portal, the portal mechanics will be familiar to you. Coloured portals teleport you from A to B, companion cubes and buttons abound, goo can accelerate you or provide a trampoline-type surface whilst turrets will shoot you if you enter their line of sight. If you’ve not played Portal, I command you to go do so immediately.
Now try to get that precious cargo from A to B, by building a bridge whilst being shot by lasers, having to navigate portals, fall from great heights, bounce off surfaces and accelerate quickly and you’ll see that the challenge (and fun!) level has just been upped. As the levels (60 in total) progress, all the mechanics come into play and things get a little bit crazy. GLaDOS (voiced by original voice actor Ellen McLain) will give you droll, emotionless statements to motivate you forward in true Portal fashion. The writing and humour aren’t quite there for me although I appreciated the attempt.
It has two victory conditions – a single success, which is usually fairly easily obtainable even if the entire bridge comes crashing down behind you, and the convoy. The convoy is when a whole series of trucks need to make the journey without being dropped in a vat of acid or ending up in a 6 car pileup. This means the bridge has to be firmly structurally sound and able to take the weight & load of multiple cars and crossovers need to take place without a mid-air collision. Much harder! The dual options offer a fun and light way to complete a level, and a more serious success route. If you’re frustrated you can move on and go back to your convoy later with level select and it’s akin to playing it on easy or hard mode.
For those with no clue how to build a bridge, you do get a handbook that explains some basic principles of load, pressure, and design and then you’ll need to equip the old brain and get cracking. You’re not timed and you get an unlimited amount of attempts, including test runs, so even on the higher difficulty levels, there’s no real pressure and you can try as many things as you fancy which makes it a fairly relaxing experience.
It doesn’t have a storyline and it’s not quite the epic journey that the original Portal series was, so for those hoping for a little bit of Portal 3, this definitely isn’t it. I’d also hoped for the ability to place portals yourself, but unfortunately, these are all static. But despite these few disappointments, I found myself really charmed by each new challenge and pumping the air in victory when my convoy made it. If you enjoy the construction mechanics of Bridge Constructor, the Portal elements add some unique and interesting puzzles that in my opinion are much enhanced on the original game. It’s simple and intuitive, a fun little game with a little bit of tech, a dollop of puzzle and a cup of crazy thrown in.