My first experience with Valve as a developer was not the Half-Life series like most people. Instead, I got introduced to Valve through the Portal games and found myself really immersed in the idea of the series, and the concepts presented. I love games like Portal, and Bridge Constructor, which try to challenge you to use your brain in a variety of ways to reach your goals. That is why I was so very excited to discover Bridge Constructor Portal, a Bridge Constructor game that blends Bridge Constructor with the Portal franchise (with Valve’s approval and licensing.) Bridge Constructor Portal is a challenge in pure Bridge Constructor fashion while adding the addition of insane Portal concepts to up the ante even further.
NOTE: Our first review for this was done by Jack Penwell, you can find his review here.
In Bridge Constructor Portal’s 60 levels, you will be put in charge of building bridges, ramps, and other construction designs to assist Aperture Science’s “Bendies” in reaching various goal points. Ellen McClain reprises her role as GLaDOS to comedic effect, and that is only one of the returning elements from the Portal series. Puzzle elements such as propulsion gels, cubes, sentry turrets, and multicolored portals are only a few of the things you’ll face in Bridge Constructor Portal, often to mind-bending effect.
None of these elements feel like a gimmick to promote the game. Instead, I would say that Bridge Constructor Portal almost feels like a successor, a spin-off of sorts, (as it should, considering it carries the Portal licensing rights.) It should also be mentioned that while you can easily play Bridge Constructor Portal with a controller, it feels much more natural to play with a mouse, as everything can be done entirely with a mouse and still be simple and user-friendly.
I think my favorite part about Bridge Constructor Portal though, is that it blends physics elements that actually make sense, with puzzles that really test your understanding of the tools they give you. For example, you can use scaffolding to stabilize your creations, but you can also use cables as well, providing more flexible support rather than structural support.
As in the main Portal series, it starts you off with a few elements, then over time builds up more and more ideas and more complex puzzles, so that you are always on your toes. Every time I felt that I was finally getting the hang of things, and things were starting to get just shy of that “too easy” mark, they would throw in a new idea that would completely change how I approached the puzzles presented to me.
A helpful element of Bridge Constructor Portal is the addition of the “Best Practices” menu, which contains helpful tips that sometimes might kick-start an idea that helps you progress. It provides useful information such as proper structures, using the environment to your advantage, and more.
The only problem that I have with Bridge Constructor Portal is the lack of a larger overarching “storyline.” Don’t get me wrong, I know that the Portal games were never really meant for a “Narrative” but interacting with characters like GLaDOS and Wheatley made things much more interesting, and added a sense of tension or urgency to the game. Ellen McClain did a fantastic job voicing GLaDOS again, but I almost felt like she was wasted on a “Steward” character. Sure, she had great jokes, one-liners, and zingers that fit her normal humor…but it wasn’t really enough.
Otherwise, I think Bridge Constructor Portal is a great next step in the franchise. I hope to see more Bridge Constructor games in the future, and if we’re lucky maybe this will show Valve that people are interested in more Portal content. Even if Portal 3 never becomes a thing, fans of the series can at least derive some sort of closeness to the series by playing games like this, that add Portal craziness to other genres.
If you’re a fan of the Bridge Constructor series, and you are looking for a new challenge; I would definitely recommend Bridge Constructor Portal. On the flip-side, if you are a Portal fan, definitely give this a look as well. It isn’t heavy on the Aperture Science lore, but it does throw out some references and do a few things you won’t expect. Tell everyone the truth, the bridge is a lie, a wonderful, frustrating lie.
A Steam Review Copy of Bridge Constructor Portal was provided by Headup Games for the Purpose of this Review.