February 28, 2018
Ever since the credits rolled on Portal 2 back in 2011, we've longed to return to the confines of Aperture Laboratories. Bridge Constructor Portal is our first chance in almost seven years to do just that, with GLaDOS once again taunting us throughout the course of sixty increasingly fiendish puzzles. Bliss.
If you've never played Bridge Constructor or its follow-up Bridge Constructor Stunts before, the concept is incredibly simple. Your job is to build a bridge that can support the weight of a single vehicle and get it from A to B without the structure buckling and falling to pieces. Tracing a line from one spot to the other won't cut it: your creation needs to be completely structurally sound, or it'll break.
Early on, you'll learn the importance of creating strong supports using triangular shapes, while long tensile cables can be used to lend extra support to a sagging structure. Getting one vehicle through a gauntlet is the easy part. The real difficulty is having your construction withstand a convoy of mini Aperture forklift trucks in quick succession, the weak parts of your structure glowing red to show where you need to add additional strength.
The key is learning through trial and error. As the puzzles become more and more complex, the more you'll need to experiment, and come up with alternate methods for getting your convoy of suicidal test subjects through Aperture's deadly acid traps, sentry turrets, laser walls, aerial faith plates and other lethal booby traps, unscathed.
While you'll probably fly through Bridge Constructor Portal's first two chapters – each comprising 10 puzzles apiece – expect to come unstuck when the game starts to introduce more portals, companion cubes, high energy pellets, propulsion and repulsion gels, and other stuff. Some puzzles require pitch perfect timing, things bouncing at perfect angles and vehicles gaining enough momentum to soar across gaping chasms to land safely on the other side. It's no picnic and can become a bit of a melon-twister.
But like any puzzler worth its salt, Bridge Constructor Portal manages to make you feel like a genius when you overcome a particularly tricky conundrum, and watching as a convoy smoothly makes the journey from the entry pipe safely into the exit pipe, is incredibly satisfying. Building a bridge is straightforward too, as you anchor your structure to designated orange square points, then set about trying to form a strong, stable route over green pools of acid and past other hazards.
As things gradually become increasingly complex, gravity and physics develop into more important considerations as you progress, and lateral thinking comes into play often. You can always consult the 'best practices' via the pause menu for a reminder of the cardinal rules behind bridge building, but you'll soon get a knack for how best to assemble a suspended road to best transport your diddy trucks. Thanks to the intuitive controls and mechanics, you're free to construct to your heart's content, applying gravity to test your structure or rejig components with ease.
Hence, Bridge Constructor Portal is a lot of fun. It's not only great to return to the Aperture Science Enrichment Centre with murderous mechanical monster GLaDOS egging you on, its array of test chambers and elusive promise of cake, but the game's series of puzzles are consistently challenging and enjoyable.
GLaDOS' voice remains iconic, while the music and effects are very pleasant indeed.
Valve's visual stylings and Aperture iconography have made it in to Bridge Constructor Portal intact, which is all you really need to know.
The game's bridge building mechanics are easy to learn and get to grips with, meaning the only challenge is figuring out how to solve each test chamber.
Sixty head-scratching physics-based puzzles to tackle, and a multitude of different solutions that require some lateral thinking and ingenuity. Great stuff.
A fairly straightforward list that focuses on achieving perfection across all sixty puzzles. Delivering all of those convoys unmolested will be a toughie.
A cool, well-executed Portal spin-off/mash-up, Bridge Constructor Portal takes one of Valve's dormant franchises and neatly transposes it into an appealing and enjoyable puzzle game. Next up, Bridge Constructor Half-Life? Play it. For science.