Review: Bridge Constructor Portal (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: Bridge Constructor Portal (Switch)

By Sairus Delaney

The Portal franchise is still alive and bridging.
Bridge Constructor is a long running series of puzzle games from developers Clockstone. Up until now they’ve stuck to themselves, but in 2017 Clockstone acquired the license to Valve’s acclaimed Portal series and smushed it together with Bridge Constructor in a shockingly perfect collaboration. If I were making notes here I'd call it a huge success.

The core gameplay is as simple as its name: you build bridges. The catch is that Bridge Constructor almost feels like a crafty physics edutainment title disguising itself as an addictive puzzle game. Bridges need to be properly supported either using suspension cables or struts. If your bridge can’t stand up under its own weight plus a number of vehicles driving over it you’ll need to think harder about your design.
You are only asked to make sure the testing vehicles reach the exit. Testers are optional.
I imagine a lot of folks will be picking this game up thanks to the Portal in its name. Those players should be relieved to know this is a near flawless fusion of Portal’s flavor and mechanics onto those of the Bridge Constructor series. Where the previous titles in the Bridge series had you building bridges across chasms and rivers, Portal has you trying to finish sets of its iconic Testing Chambers. GlaDOS herself guides you through the game, explaining how you need to use the various Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Buttons, Aerial Faith Plates, Companion Cubes, Gels and of course the titular Portals in combination with your various bridges and ramps.

The patronizing Portal writing is almost as important as the gameplay.
There’s 60 stages on offer and they increase in difficulty at an excellent pace. Initial chambers are extremely simple but GlaDOS rapidly introduces new concepts and problems until chambers have dozens of vehicles all driving simultaneously through portals, destroying turrets and leaping across converging ramps. Occasionally the game will outright show the desired kind of solution it expects, but more often it will just trust you to figure things out by yourself.
No explanation needed.
The challenges never feel unfair and a very quick and snappy control setup means you can deploy a bridge design and test it within seconds. Bridge Constructor Portal heavily encourages creativity and experimentation while never punishing failure so it’s easy to get lost in the quick build/retry cycle. The only time this falters is when a particularly long test chamber has a tricky final section and you need to watch the test vehicles drive the whole way through your absurd bridge setups to get to the end every time you retry.

While the game functions perfectly in both handheld or docked, it was definitely designed to played on a larger screen. Many objects like spring pads and game text can be very difficult to make out in handheld until you zoom in. It’s a shame because the majority of the game is very cleanly designed. I never ran into any problems with the actual bridge building, no matter how complicated my constructions got. The game is completely playable, but badly scaled text and objects is an annoying quirk with Switch games that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Once you've solved a chamber with one vehicle you can try it with a convoy.
Bridge Constructor is one of those fantastic series’ that takes a seemingly boring idea like building bridges, but expands it into a clever and engaging game. Splicing in the Portal mechanics is completely seamless and a fantastic way to convince a new swath of players to try out a series they may not have considered before. If you’re in any way interested in the Portal series or puzzle games in general this is a game you don’t want to miss out on. This is a triumph.

Final Score: 9.0 

(Review code provided by the publisher)

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