Title: Bridge Constructor Portal
Publisher: Headup Games
Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Linux, Mac
Version Tested: PC
Release Date: December 20, 2017
Where to Buy it: Any digital game store
It’s time for more testing. You know… for science.
Valve’s Portal and its sequel were both revelations. Initially a side game in the Orange Box collection, a fanbase quickly spawned surrounding the game’s mindbending puzzles, sharp sense of humor, and amazing villain. It seemed like a bit of an odd choice to lend the Portal license out for Bridge Constructor Portal, but the unique puzzle style suits the game well. This is by no means as strong an entry into the series as the true Portal games, but its a solid little puzzler with what you expect from Portal‘s sense of humor sprinkled on top.
Bridge Constructor Portal is quite a bit like the classic series Lemmings, in which you must set up a path to get your mindless, forward moving minions from the entrance of a stage to the exit in one piece. In this case, you are setting up bridges in the Aperture Science Testing Facility so that little golf carts can safely get through a testing chamber. It starts out simple, teaching a few basics of bridge support and engineering to keep your bridges from falling apart. The difficulty quickly ramps up, and things start to get very devious.
Soon, Bridge Constructor Portal starts throwing multiple portals, turrets, laser fields, switches that open doors, and different types of Aperture Science gels at you. It generally is not too hard, even as the game’s complexity increases, to use some hit-and-miss tactics to get one golf cart through the level. Where things get very difficult is the ultimate test: the convoy. As multiple carts are driving through the level, bouncing off gel, flying through portals, slamming into each other, and collapsing your carefully constructed bridges, it can be tough to puzzle together just what you need to do to perfectly pass the level. When you do, like most puzzle games of this ilk, you feel a great sense of accomplishment and relief. Bridge Constructor Portal really nails the feeling that a good puzzle game should.
It looks and sounds good. The graphics are reminiscent of the posters and “company videos” of previous Portal games, with goofy, two-dimensional people constrasting nicely with the stark, industrial layout of the levels. It’s also good to have Ellen McLain back as GLaDOS – the writing and interactivity of your frenemy in science is not quite as on point, but she’s still a welcome addition to the game with some pretty hilarious lines and observations. She remains a humorous presence throughout the game.
That said, Bridge Constructor Portal does start to lost some steam as it goes on. It introduces most of the mechanics fairly early, and survives during the second half by merely upping how complicated the puzzles get. Coupled with the fact that there are only a few different building options, the second half of Bridge Constructor Portal can turn into a bit of a grind. This would not be as huge of a problem if the story and humor of the first two Portal games was here, but Bridge Constructor Portal does not quite hit the mark there, either. There is not much of a story to speak of: you aren’t going to find little snippets of lore hidden throughout the world here. And GLaDOS is still solid, but the Portal humor feels much more tacked on than directly integrated like in Valve’s games.
Because of the lack of building options besides struts and cables, this game may not provide quite the challenge for puzzle game veterans that is demanded. There is no resource limit per level, and, surprisingly, there does not appear to be any sort of leaderboard functionality. It would be nice if you could compete with others to see who can complete levels in the fastest time, or using the least amount of resources, but it does not appear to have that capability. Likewise, this is a game that screams for a level editor. Once you have mastered the game’s sixty levels, there is little reason to return and replay unless you desperately want some achievements. Without competition against other players or a way to create new challenges, what you see is what you get.
Verdict: Bridge Constructor Portal is a solid little puzzler that will give you a couple dozen hours of mind bending physics to play with. It could benefit from some additional bells and whistles, and it may not quite be the challenge that puzzle game vets are looking for. That said, more GLaDOS is always welcome, and it is a pretty fun foray into the world of engineering and bridge building.
- Fun aesthetics
- Good use of Portal mechanics
- Good balance of difficulty and achievement
- Gets a bit stale
- Little replayability
- Missing some features that could add a lot