Bridge Constructor Portal Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Publisher: Headup Games
Release Date: February 28th 2018
Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £13.49 GBP
Despite having only two games in the series, the Portal franchise is one of the most well loved in modern gaming. The genius idea of creating two portals that lead to each other has inspired so many indie games in recent years. It was a simple concept for a physics-based puzzle game but had so many possibilities to be explored. It’s easy to see why it’s so revered. While we may be starved of sequels for the series, we have had a tie-in or two and Bridge Constructor Portal is the latest of these, crossing over the massive Valve IP with the much smaller, but still well thought of, Bridge Constructor series.
Compared to the story of a normal Portal game, this one takes a back seat to focus more on the puzzle gameplay. You are a nameless employee tasked with building bridges in order to guide this facility’s worryingly expendable workforce to its goal. With the series antagonist GLaDOS as your helpful guide, you’re set on your way.
That’s it really. GLaDOS chips in with a funny line at the start of stages which is nice but there no overall narrative which is a shame because the original Portal was a puzzle game and had one of the most memorable stories ever. I think they could have at least tried to do something in this department.
The audio is on the simple side as it doesn’t have too many musical tracks but the tracks it does have are really well put together. There’re two distinct sets of music, the building music and the action music. Naturally the building music is more on the chilled out, relaxing side whereas the music played when you release your workers is a bit more punchier. There is a bit of variety but if you’re stuck on a puzzle you may end up getting sick of hear the same track over and over. At least the music isn’t bad which would make that a living nightmare, it’s a good job they created some awesome music for it.
Visually the game is on point with the Portal franchise. If you didn’t know it was mixed with the franchise beforehand, you would find out by just looking at it. It has the minimalistic worn whites of the test chambers and the glow of the familiar portals. And, like every section up to this point, there’s really not a whole lot too it which I do think is a negative aspect. There could have been more visual variety to stop everything looking basically the same. It’s also worth noting that the game has no performance issues.
There are 60 puzzles in Bridge Constructor Portal in which you need to safely guide the worker vehicles to the defined exit. Whether by building bridges over acidic liquid, or ramps to jump over them and fling them through the iconic portals to a different part of the stage, this physics based engineering game will definitely be a good test of your puzzle solving skills. It’s a very simple concept and one kept up throughout the game.
It has a nice introduction that guides you through the gameplay concepts one at a time in new stages and there is a very real difficulty curve. Levels start off simple but over the course of the game will get grander and more extravagant until you’re building supports all over the place and it looks completely ludicrous.
In your arsenal of bridge building equipment, you have a small but adaptable set of tools. You move your cursor around with the analogue stick to place things where you want. You can’t just place things anywhere though since they need to be connected somewhere with a bit of stability and so you’ll often have a couple of spots on walls or ceilings which you can use as a starting point for your construction. You’ll first want to start with either the supports or the roads themselves, which are used on the same tool selection. After laying down the framework that you want you, can hover over each piece and then toggle it between road and support. With a mouse and keyboard I could see this being perfectly fine but with an analogue stick it feels a little awkward because not only is it slower and less accurate, the cursor always wants to snap to the connecting joints as well, especially if you’ve zoomed the screen out a little. It does feel like you’re fighting against it at times.
It’s a very slow, methodical game. There’s no fast paced action, no tests of reflexes; instead you’re more likely to be staring at the screen for 10 minutes, rubbing your chin and pondering how to tackle the situation. You have to take into account many things when building your structures. You need to consider how heavy your load is, do you have enough supports to keep it up? There’s also stress to think about. While your structure may withstand the test of gravity, some structures and ropes may feel the burn and buckle under the pressure of your workers driving over them. A nice option in the game is the Test feature which will show you how your structure will hold up in real time but the real test is sending over your worker to see if he’s able to get to the exit safely. Once one of them makes it through, you can send the whole convey to see how truly capable your structure is. An even bigger challenge to impose upon yourself is to do it as cheaply as possible since everything you place has a monetary value. This will be a true test of your efficiency and one that I was certainly not willing to take.
Aside from just driving over bridges and through the eponymous portals, this game does include a few more Portal staples such as companion cubes which are used to press switches, as well as the turrets and these enter during the more complicated stages. And it all builds up in to quite a magnificent mess.
I’m not going to lie, Bridge Contractor Portal made my brain hurt. I’m not going to say it’s a game where you need to have an engineering degree to be able to get by, but you definitely need to be good at thinking in both a logical way and also thinking outside of the box. So in that regard it’s a great test of your cognitive skills. If you really want to test your brain then this is a great option.
I know it’s not supposed to be the point of the game but I actually found a lot of enjoyment from just creating the weirdest of contraptions and watching my workers flop and flounder about. Even when you’re actually trying your best but things go tragically wrong and you end up flinging all of your guys into pools of acid it can be quite hilarious and I found myself chuckling often which is not something I thought I would do.
As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Bridge Constructor Portal is a very solid, slickly made game and I think my only real complaint is just that. It’s too solid because it plays it safe. It has a concept and sticks with it the entire game. Being more adventurous could have taken it to the next level. A level creator and sharing options could have been a fantastic way to test your friends. Varied environments, more levels gimmicks, there’s really a lot they could have done to go whole hog with this one. It’s just a bit too safe.
I should mention that the Switch version does have touch controls, but I honestly wasn’t a massive fan of them. I’m not sure why, I guess it just didn’t feel particularly responsive. I just stayed with the regular controller.
For $14.99 or £13.49, 60 puzzles may not sound like a whole lot compared other games but for me, it’s fine. These 60 puzzles will take you a long time to solve unless you’re an engineering genius. As I said before it’s a game where you could spend an hour upwards on some puzzles especially if you head off on the wrong track initially. More additions would have been nice, of course, but for what you get I wouldn’t complain about the price.
Slickly made puzzles
Good use of the Portal concepts
Needs more variety
Level editor should be here