Yes, the rumours are true. We are back to testing. With portals. And GlaDOS. And… Bridges? Bridge Constructor Portal is a combination of the beloved Portal series and the slightly less known but still loved Bridge Constructor series. It actually manages to combine the two quite well and almost manages to make me forget my hunger for Portal 3. Almost. But that’s the last I will say on the matter as this is its own game, with its own merits. You can turn the turret off now.
Classic bridge constructor gameplay returns in this instalment. If you don’t know, Bridge Constructor involves you building bridges over more and more complex environments, to deliver a package. To gain more points, you have to successfully allow for a convoy of cars to travel past, showing that the bridge is fully secure. The game is easy to understand, hard to master and addictive. I’ve found it better to play in short bursts to avoid mind overload. Also, a quick tip – use triangles.
You could be forgiven in thinking Bridge Constructor Portal is a more streamlined version of the original Bridge Constructor. There’s only one type of material after all. However, this is where the Portal aspects of the game come into play. Besides portals (colour-coded differently to the original game for ease of use), there’s also aerial jump pads, turrets and more. Portals especially, mean that the game’s levels can quickly become quite complicated with criss-crossing bridges and more jumps than a regular truck should be doing. You also have something else back…
GlaDOS is back and I’m thankful. The little digs and backhanded compliments make the game feel more like Portal. They also break up the gameplay a bit, allowing you to refocus on a new puzzle. Ellen McLain returns as the voice and she’s actually incorporated in the game a lot more than I thought she would be – with a 3D model complete with animation. A lot has been done to pay homage to Portal and my little laughs while playing are testament to all they got right. The turrets are awesome as well, offering plenty of laughs. Then there’s the introspective looks into yourself as they ask you to ‘please don’t hate me’.
The graphics are similar to The Lab, a Vive launch title by Valve to show off the VR headsets capabilities, which, again features GlaDOS. They are clean and polished, bringing plenty of character to the little 2D stickman who are the test vehicle drivers. Go slightly too close to a ceiling and some of the stickmen hitchhikers will jump for freedom to avoid getting crushed. Land a vehicle upside down and they’ll keep driving as they slowly turn over (if possible). They give the game a lot more life and vibrancy in, at its heart, a bridge building simulator.
That’s not to say Bridge Constructor Portal doesn’t have its problems. The UI is sometimes fiddly, with myself finding trouble destroying some structures if they are too small. I would also accidentally move/destroy other structures when clicking. You can zoom in and out, which removes most problems, but it’s still a bit frustrating.
The difficulty is also a problem with some uneven gaps going from tough to easy when a new gameplay element is introduced then back to difficult. I’d rather a more even curve even if it means it’s generally less taxing. That’s not to say that the game’s impossible – all the puzzles are doable (and sometimes not in the way you’re supposed to). But rather it’s sometimes overwhelming just getting your head around what you’re meant to do. If this is the case, I’d take a break and come back to it – you’ll usually work it out pretty quickly afterwards.
Conclusion: Bridge Constructor Portal is a great and worthwhile addition to both the Bridge Constructor and Portal game series. With at least 60 levels and the many improvements to your bridge you can do to get the best score, the game has a large enough life to recommend.
A PC review copy of Portal Bridge Constructor was provided by Headup Games for the purpose of this review