Bridge Constructor Portal [Steam] is the latest from developer ClockStone and publisher Headup Games that pulls in the Portal franchise from Valve. It’s now out, here’s some thoughts.
Portal is back! Okay—not quite. The next great Portal game this may not be, but it is a mildly amusing puzzle game.
Disclosure: Key provided by the publisher. Thoughts based on the Linux build available before release. Also, it's Steam-only, the publisher told me they have no plans for a GOG release.
Sadly, I got less time than expected on this one as the Linux version only started to work properly the night before release. However, I've put as much time into it as possible to gather some thoughts.
If I’m going to be totally honest, this is the first Bridge Constructor game I’ve actually played myself. I’ve never been too interested in them, but as a massive Portal fan I couldn’t pass this up. The style of the game is really fantastic, I think they successfully captured the feel of Portal, while being clear it's a different game to the classics.
For a game that makes use of Portal, to the point that the publisher said Valve “collaborated” on it, I was quite surprised by the initial introduction scene not having some kind of funny voice over. It was mildly amusing to read, but disappointing going in. That’s the problem when you take a beloved franchise and use it in your own games, you’re setting a high bar to follow.
However, all that disappointment suddenly vanished when I got into the first test chamber—hello robotic voice of GLaDOS (Ellen McLain), how I’ve missed you! The way she says “bridge”, I could have died from giggling.
In Bridge Constructor Portal you're not just dealing with two portals, there will at times be multiple giving you an extra challenge to figure out where they all go. On top of that, you're working your way around lasers, those hilarious little turrets, jump pads and more. It can result in some rather silly consequences, but luckily failure isn't punishing on the player, it's a game that very much invites you to fail over and over again. You can try each level as many times as you wish, you can build and remove parts at will, so it's quite satisfying when you really manage to get it working good enough. Your designs don't have to be perfect and who cares if they fall apart after, as long as you reach the exit.
I did feel like they didn’t use GLaDOS to its full potential. It’s the little things, like no one calling me stupid when I let my vehicles fall into pools of acid, but what's there is quite amusing. I just felt like it needed a little more humour over all.
I give you this video of my failure, to my triumph and quickly back to total failure again…
From an early level, since I don't want to spoil how to solve much of it.
As you can see in that video, a little feature for those who really want to test themselves is to send out a convoy of trucks. It's not just the weight of the vehicles to take into consideration then, it's also the risk of collision when levels make you cross-over the paths to reach the exit. This way, you can really see if your designs will hold up, naturally mine don't and it often ends in fiery disaster.
I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m quite a fan! I’ve had a lot of fun with it, in fact some of it has truly made me laugh, although that’s mainly at how stupid I am when I watch the utter failure of my designs.
If you liked the previous Bridge Constructor games it's a solid decision to pick it up. For those of you not usually interested, it's a damn fine game overall with some really interesting puzzle mechanics. Thanks to the pacing of the game, it never managed to annoying me, only fry my brain a little.