Bridge Constructor Portal (Switch) Review
Release Date: February 28, 2018
Developer/Publisher: Clockstone/Headup Games
Platform: Switch (Reviewed), PC, Mobile, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
I was able to review the original Bridge Constructor when it came to the PS Vita, and now, Bridge Constructor Portal comes to the Switch, or as I like to call it sometimes, "the Vita Done Right." I had some issues with the original game, mainly that 1) there's only so many ways you can make a bridge, and 2) it was downright frustrating to have a game so inherently touchscreen on a touchscreen device, yet not have any functionality. Bridge Constructor Portal fixes both through the power of portals.
Two months ago this game came out on mobile devices, and it's cheaper, running $4.99. For the original concept, I readily recommended trying the reduced price or free options available, but the Switch has spoiled me, and the extra polish put on the game with Valve and the Portal license make this puzzler worthy of your living room and on the go. Bridge Constructor was a great idea, combining the chaos of building a bridge within a limited budget with the added benefit of learning about structures and how to build them. As I said, though, there's only so many ways to get from point A to point B, and the cost mechanic of the original put that limit on you. You had so many dollars, and you couldn't go over that amount. Adding Portal to the mix, with Aperture Science's budget, you basically play golf, going for the low score and using as little as possible. Add in the aerial faith plates, propulsion gel, and portals to the mix, along with GLaDOS and her efficiency (if the package gets there, good, we aren't too worried about the drivers themselves), and a whole new world opens up. No longer are you limited to two pieces of ground across a river. When building your bridge, you have to account for sentry turrets who shoot on site, buttons to press to open gates before the next area, and more. GLaDOS' dry wit, officially voiced by Ellen McLain, remind you of the humor you find in her original title. Even the first-boot menu has the dry humor you'd expect from Aperture Science.
The game is well put together. In handheld mode, you can use touchscreen or button controls to get around the level. Each menu item is placed in a way that's intuitive to the touchscreen yet labeled well enough to use the buttons. My only beef would be when things look as if they are connected from the distance zoom, only to fall apart because you were a smidge off when making connections. You can test the bridge as much as you want (hey, GLaDOS has plenty of paper-thin assistants), with a smooth transition between building and testing. With the more open budgeting, you really can try anything and go back and tweak it to find the perfect design. Some of the 60 levels are pretty straightforward, while others can take hours on their own, so long as you have the patience to see them through.
Bridge Constructor Portal's biggest disappointment is for those who expect more Portal than Bridge Constructor. Portal is the skin and theme, but that's it. There's no epic story to be told here, and Valve continues their legacy of not putting out anything with a 3 in it. It does offer the flavor and fun, though. You truly feel smart as you figure out how to bounce between all the different portals and reach the goal without getting vaporized. Thinking with portals is definitely a great brain-twister, even in a new genre, and shows that not only are the folks at ClockStone good at creating a quality mashup, but that the Portal license could find itself in other genres as well. Bridge Constructor really needed a shot in the arm to keep it relevant, and the oddball physics of Portal fit the bill perfectly.
-Bridge Constructor gets smarter and more challenging
-Several levels take some deep thought to succeed
-Higher quality than the first, which felt like a mobile game
-It's not Portal 3
-finicky when zoomed out, have to pay attention to joints
-While more varied, it is still repetitive "point A to point B" inherent in Bridge Constructor titles
Special thanks to ClockStone and Headup Games for providing a digital copy for review!