Bridge Constructor Portal (Switch) Review – Lossed in Complexity
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android
Developer: ClockStone Software
Publisher: Headup Games
Release: 28th February 2018
During recent years the “Construct a Bridge” genre gained quite some popularity through its amazing foundation for lets plays. So it was only a matter of time until some cross-overs had to happen, as Bridge Constructor Portal shows, a game with a neat premise and misguided direction.
As the name implies, Portal is the general theme of this game, drawing heavily from GLaDOS and the general humour the series established. Since we were just accepted as a new employee, the iconic AI is responsible for our training. Through dozens of test levels, she accompanies one with an endless amount of jokes that could´ve been copied straight out of Portal.
However, that´s pretty much it concerning the writing, there´s no evolution or build-up to a more refined goal. Bridge Constructor Portal throws an endless amount of the same humour in all directions for hours but never learns its own style. While it´s a cross-over between both series, I never saw any influence from the Bridge Constructor series in the jokes, except the mandatory use of the word “bridge”. At the same time, nothing stays fresh forever and the jokes quickly start to become redundant and almost annoying, since they lack any kind of refinement known from Valve´s name giving series. In the end, GLaDOS became more of a nuisance than an entertaining part of the experience, given, the beginning was very funny though.
At the base, most of its gameplay still remains mostly unchanged to previous entries of the genre. Every level has a start and finish for the trucks to reach, full of gaps and holes that need to be overbridge. To do so Bridge Constructor Portal offers three main construction options: Sturdy planks, roads and steel cables which are more flexible and longer. By clever combining various bridges have to be built, while anchor points to actually attack the various materials become rarer and more challenging to use, leading to some rather funny bridges in combination with the physics … you know the drill and there´s nothing new here.
Naturally, Bridge Constructor Portal also infuses the standard gameplay with all kinds of Portal elements. So the levels get clustered with portals of different colours, connections and alike while combining rather unrealistic, advanced tracks, like crossing roads. At the same time, the overall theme of acceleration, jumping height and so on, seen in the idol game, can be found here as well in almost unaltered ways. Really, any iconic concept, threat and design is implemented in some way or another, making for an interesting core concept of infusing the stale bridge building with fresh ideas.
Unfortunately, in the end, all those Portal elements are rather limited, there are just so many things you can do with portals and turrets. Bridge Constructor Portal didn´t understand exactly that, instead focused on clustering levels with dozens of those things, mixed with all kinds of overcomplicating elements. After a few levels, innovation becomes a rare element and the whole game focuses on bombarding the player with level structures no one could easily understand in a few minutes. It becomes tiring to both get a grasp of the goal, adjust everything to the physics and hope the jump height is enough to gain speed. The simplicity I always admired about bridge constructing games is completely gone due to the lack of creativity to actually bring new things to the mix, not solely relying on established systems.
In combination with the rather clunky Switch controls, due to slow joystick movements and the fact, every single plank has to manually be transformed into a road at given places, the experience becomes a whole lot more annoying. Besides, the game suffers in handheld models well because of the many tiny objects getting pixelated at larger zoom factors and the overall mediocre performance. It looks decent and the touchscreen controls can fix many things but ultimately, it´s not a very amazing port.
Bridge Constructor Portal has a great premise and license, able to drag many players to the game simply due to the name itself. Sadly, ClockSoft Software didn´t infuse the game with many unique ideas, relying on overcomplicating the ever-same ones without creating a truly smart and fun to play game after some hours.
[A Review Code was provided by Headup Games]