Bridge Constructor Portal will turn your brain’s valve with some physics fun, but it’s little more than a collection of challenges coated in a familiar cake frosting.
In Bridge Constructor Portal, you are tasked with completing a series of challenges in which you lead a forklift (driven automatically by stick figures) toward a designated exit. Sounds simple enough, right? The kicker is that each level continually dials up the trial, and in time, acid water, locked gates, and turrets join the party to harsh your buzz. That’s where bridges and reinforcing cables come in. As the learning curve grows, so too will the complexity of the strategies you employ. When I built my first bridge (after trying to just Evil Knievel it with a flying forklift ramp), I found myself excited for the next challenge and wondered if my career would have been better off as an engineer. By the 10th trial, and countless stick figure deaths, I knew these early dreams were way off the mark.
The opening tutorial, laid out in the first handful of trials, is a bit clunky — you need to play through the whole thing in one sitting (an hour or so once you get your bearings) and strangely even just pausing the game or accessing the menu isn’t possible for long stretches. I had an inkling of a feeling this may have been a design glitch because during these segments the entire scope of the screen wouldn’t populate and the command options weren’t fully populating for me. However, the physics are surprisingly tight once the basics are understood, and as the difficulty increases, so too does satisfaction in the gameplay.
One important frustration to lay out is that as you run tests on your creations, fast-forwarding isn’t possible. This proves time-consuming for the longer trials when you’ve mastered 95% of the level, only to have a slight design hiccup at the end. So, instead of making a quick tweak and resuming the test from this point, you must restart the entire test and watch the steady forklifts mosey on down the line. It’s not a game-breaker, but by the later levels you’ll wonder why this option isn’t present.
Now, for the paintjob. Yes, this is another Bridge Constructor game, but this time around everyone’s favorite (endearingly murderous) AI, GLaDOS, is back to lead you through test chambers reminiscent of the Portal series. Familiar references are peppered throughout, but ultimately the crossover layer feels thin and does little more than string a collection of challenges together.
Ultimately, Bridge Constructor Portal feels like a solid little collection of architectural challenges that will keep puzzle-hungry physics-lovers with plenty to do. But, anyone looking for a heavy dose of story or a treasure trove of Portal-related content shouldn’t expect much.