Wednesday, February 28

Review: Bridge Constructor Portal [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Games with an element of creativity, where you’re given a set of rules and some limited materials to work with to solve a problem, can be tough to get right. Physics-based bridge construction games have been around for awhile now, having cut their teeth in the mobile space and moved out to PC and consoles. While they have a certain appeal to them, and can have elements of goofy fun, the risk they run is in becoming too repetitive and stale if they focus too much on real-world problems. In order to solve that particular issue in a smart way the people behind Bridge Constructor Portal made an excellent move in securing the Portal license, bringing along not just the voice (and wonderfully dry wit) of its best character, GLaDOS, but all of the varied goodies it has to offer as well.


Right from the opening questionnaire, before you’ve even begun building, the signature humor from the series is in full effect. This immediately put a grin on my face and from there things generally remain consistently enjoyable whether it is the clinical description each challenge, GLaDOS ridiculing you in a variety of ways when you fail, or simply how the workers on various pieces of transport equipment can fall to their deaths. Aside from the game being legitimately challenging it is damned funny. If you’re already a fan of the Portal series I’m happy to say they’ve pretty well nailed everything about it authentically rather than simply going through the motions. If you’re not familiar I would hope you’ll appreciate its very off-center nature and will encourage you to check out 2 of my favorite games ever made if you have the chance.

Of course no matter how entertaining the game may be, if this is a bridge building game that failed to deliver on its self-stated core experience it wouldn’t much matter. The great news is that, moreso than any game of its type before, it is both challenging and rewarding. First, unlike the case with Polybridge’s woeful attempt at pointer controls when in docked mode BCP uses the analog controls to excellent and precise effect. There aren’t too many buttons, you don’t feel like you can’t get the level of granular control you want, just overall it works perfectly. In handheld mode touchscreen controls are possible but honestly since the analog controls work well I preferred still using them rather than having to zoom in, move the screen over, etc. One thing that I really appreciate is that though the game keeps track of how much you’re “spending” (and I have no doubt a comment will be made at some point) you aren’t given budget limits, your focus is just on trying to succeed at all. Especially if you want to complete the level by allowing a convoy of vehicles to go over your creation you’re going to need some serious reinforcement, though watching half of the people crash and burn is usually part of the fun!


In terms of criticisms I actually don’t find there’s much to object to outside of some minor quibbles. While it wouldn’t be a minor issue if you’re colorblind since matching the proper portals is so key in the later levels where there can be quite a few of them I could see there being potential for issues. As new elements are layered in I’ll warn that the necessary solutions will begin to get creative and often somewhat unorthodox, so keep that in mind if you begin to feel stuck. Traditional solutions aren’t always practical or even possible, use of your vehicles as a weapon is allowed and possibly encouraged in certain situations.

Overall I had a blast with Bridge Constructor Portal and because of its very effective, and full, use of a terrific license it really goes to the next level for me. Using practically every element possible from those games it successfully manages not to be stale or predictable, instead there’s generally a new surprise around every corner. Married with controls that are spot-on perfect whether in docked or handheld mode, a sense of humor, and an unlimited budget I’m not positive how it could have been much better. Highly recommended!


Score: 9

Pros:
  • 60 diverse and challenging levels of fun
  • Excellent and full utilization of the Portal license
  • Impeccable controls whether in docked or handheld mode
  • No budgets!

Cons:
  • Lack of a colorblind mode could pose issues in later levels where there are numerous portals
  • Even with the humor and creativity this may still be too niche a genre for everyone to enjoy