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Bridge Constructor Portal

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: ClockStone Software
Release Date: Dec. 20, 2017

About Lauren "Feffy" Hall

I am a freelance writer based in Canada, where it's too cold to go outside; therefore, we play a lot of video games. I'm an expert zombie slayer (the virtual kind), amateur archer (for actual zombie slaying and general apocalypse purposes - it could happen), and a work-in-progress wife and mother (IRL). My claim to fame: I completed the original MYST without looking up cheats. It took several years. What other accomplishments does one need in life?


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PC Review - 'Bridge Constructor: Portal'

by Lauren "Feffy" Hall on March 14, 2018 @ 12:01 a.m. PDT

Bridge Constructor Portal blends the laws of structural engineering and technology straight from Aperture Laboratories into an exciting new game experience, all under the demanding gaze of GLaDOS.

Buy Bridge Constructor: Portal

There are few games that have kept my attention long enough to get all the way to the credits. Embarrassing, I know. There are just too many distractions — namely, new games — to prevent me from committing. Some of the exceptions to this rule were Valve's Portal and Portal 2. Between the engaging puzzles, the satisfying level completions, and of course, the witty stream of insults and threats from GLaDOS, there were so many pros that pulled me in and kept me going until the endearing "I'm Still Alive" song at the close. When a Bridge Constructor/Portal mashup appeared on Steam, who was I to ignore it?

While it's not officially a Valve game, this title is just as fun as the original Portal and Portal 2. I don't think it's just the nostalgia factor either, although nostalgia does add to the all-around charm. Whoever came up with the idea of mashing ClockStone Software's Bridge Constructor game with Valve's Portal is a super genius because the two ideas blend together beautifully. ClockStone and publisher Headup made a great team, and Bridge Constructor Portal is a genuinely fun game that will leave you saying, "Just one more level before I go to bed!" until you finish the entire game — or you throw your keyboard out the window, whichever comes first.

Bridge Constructor Portal is a simple game with a simple design, much like its predecessors and inspiration, Bridge Constructor and Portal. While the game starts with some relatively easy constructions by means of a short, non-invasive tutorial, the later levels get progressively harder and more complex, much like they do in both Bridge Constructor and Portal. Often, tutorials ruin the ambiance of a game, and in general, you can usually figure out the controls without all of that annoying and sometimes mandatory hand-holding. Bridge Constructor Portal handles the tutorial quite well because it doesn't treat you like an idiot who can't figure out basic gaming principles. In this case, the tutorial also brings back Portal's beloved AI, GLaDOS.

Oh, GLaDOS, you never cease to entertain or insult. GLaDOS starts as your instructor, just as she did at the beginning of the original Portal games. She goads you along as you pass the relatively easy introductory levels, and sje frequently reminds you of your insignificance in the Aperture Science lab. As a Portal fangirl, I thought this was a nice touch.

In terms of the gameplay, the portals make the otherwise quiet activity of bridge construction interesting. Each subsequent level is slightly harder, and by the 10th level, they start to require some genuine thinking and planning. After about a dozen levels, a sincere understanding about how the portals work, including the importance of speed and velocity, really comes into play. As the game progresses, interesting hurdles pop up to keep you on your toes, such as the addition of turrets, pools of acid, and deadly laser fields. You are no longer a simple engineer. This game is about so much more than just building stable bridges.

It's about science.

When it comes to the actual building of bridges, the controls are admittedly a bit on the clunky side. You need to left-click to change a support beam to a road beam, and a double-left-click deletes the beam entirely. I found that a little cumbersome, especially in later levels. I kept accidentally adding extra beams where I didn't want them, and then I had to delete them. Happily, I found that you can remove all construction via the menu. This is great if you suck, which, according to GLaDOS, I most certainly do. I didn't find that there was any cake or grief counseling as promised, either, which was most disheartening.

A great feature in Bridge Constructor Portal is the "test" button, which gives you an opportunity to discover any weak spots in your structure before sending your lovable little stick figure employees to their unfortunate demise. While we're on the subject, it's nice that the game doesn't need you to be perfect. As long as you get the test vehicle through the door (sometimes minus an employee or two), everyone is happy. It allows for a little creativity, and that always increases the fun factor in any game. Not needing to be precise is a huge bonus to anyone who, like me, is a little on the clumsy side.

The graphics were pretty entertaining. The art, save for GLaDOS, was fairly basic, but little silhouettes of men in the vehicles gave the game a certain vintage charm. The graphics were otherwise clear and bright, and for a 2-D game were pretty nice. There was nothing to distract you from the task at hand, and it was clear that you were back in the Aperture Science lab, so the environment was very clinical. The colored portals made it clear and the goal was quite simple: get the vehicle through the exit.

The sound was great, especially when you were ready to click "drive" and experienced a flaw in your carefully laid plans! Crashes and tiny silhouette-man's comical screams/cheers added to the overall entertainment factor. The music was fine, but in a game like this, it's really just background music. No one is running in to bravely save you from your own stupidity, so there are no epic soundtracks in that respect. By miles, GLaDOS was the best artistic feature and the only character in the game, and she was brilliant. If she weren't there to instruct you or warn you about the various ways you could (and would) fail in the passive aggressive way that only GLaDOS can, the game would've been less interesting. She was also extremely helpful even when she was cutting you down.

There isn't exactly a hint system in Bridge Constructor Portal, apart from GLaDOS's little quips, but there is a cool help feature. You are essentially provided with a building manual of sorts to help you along when you're stuck. This is great because it doesn't lead you along like an inept moron, but provides information for you to discover a solution by using your ol' noggin.  Reading comprehension. What a notion!

A few points worth mentioning: You can send more than one vehicle through your beautifully constructed masterpiece to test its merit via a convoy. Those little vehicle guys are so enthusiastic that they had me chuckling on more than one occasion. A well-made structure is worth its weight in gold, and when you have successfully completed a task that took you a few bazillion tries, you'll feel like a genius.

Bridge Constructor Portal is no Portal, and no one expected it to be, but it's close when you consider the general enjoyment that can be had while playing it. GLaDOS is an extremely welcome resurgence, and it was oddly a pleasure to find myself under her thumb in the Aperture Science world once more. If you're looking for a fun game that you can pick up for 10 minutes here and there to kill some time, Bridge Constructor Portal is a great choice. Also, it's for science.

But I'm still waiting for cake, GLaDOS.

Score: 8.0/10

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