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Bridge Constructor Portal review: a puzzler with great physics and witty humor

A few days ago, we learned of a new game in the Portal universe. No, not Portal 3 — Valve doesn’t count to three — but a mashup between the indie game Bridge Constructor and the Aperture Labs universe. Bridge Constructor Portal is available for PC, consoles, and mobile, and we were quick to install it on an iPhone and try it out. So, how is it?

The Portal Universe

For anyone thinking that the Portal name is just tacked on here to solidify a few extra sales — rest assured that this game goes above and beyond to bring that “Portal feeling”. The very first thing you see when you start the game is an “interview process”, in the stickman style tutorials that were in the game, where you have to answer three questions in order to get the job of a bridge constructor (Chief Custodian for the Aperture Science Vehicular Hurdling Initiative, of course it has to be a long name!). And of course, the questions are great throwbacks at some memorable quotes. Then, GLaDOS is quick to greet you with her own voice that you know from the original games and she has not lost a single bit of that dry wit of hers… or her disregard of human life.

When climbing through the levels, the puzzles — naturally — become more and more complex. With that difficulty, you get introduced to tools and mechanics, which are well-known from the Portalverse — the portals, the lasers, the plasma bridges, the blue and orange gels, shower curtain references, and so on.

OK, so the game gets the feel of the Aperture Labs environment right. But what about the…

Gameplay

OK, you won’t be waving a portal gun around, you won’t be running and jumping as a character. Your job in this game is to construct bridges that lead from point A to point B (and C and D and X), then tap a button which “starts the drive test”. Then sit and watch as a number of trucks drive through the obstacle course and, hopefully, reach its end.

The catch? Well, first, you will need to figure the best type of construction to use. Bridges can only start from specific points in the map, which means that there will be gaps that you will need to work around. So, how do you pass them? Do you construct a jumping ramp or do you try to make a ramp, strong enough to support your entire truck convoy? Yeah, that brings us to point two — the bridges are very, very fragile.

So, very often, you will find that you can send a single test vehicle through the whole contraption without an issue, but when you try to send the whole convoy (to get the max points, of course), you will get to see your bridge glow red and crumble under the weight.

And yes, while it’s fun to watch them break down and see trucks fall to their doom en masse, courtesy of the game’s physics engine, this can sometimes get annoying as you try to set up the perfect position for a single bridge panel and you watch your construction fall apart for the 10th time in a row. And, in our case, the issue comes with:

Controls

When it comes to controls, it’s a pretty simple ordeal. You tap and drag to build and connect bridge panels. Tap and hold to move panels that have already been built, double-tap to delete them. Sounds simple and it is. To avoid the issue of your finger covering whatever element you are trying to move, said element will always pop up above your finger in an offset dragging position. That’s a good solution, but it introduces another issue — when you want to fine-tune that one bridge point and move it just slightly in one direction, it pops up as soon as you hold on it and resets its position. “Now, how was that positioned? Where did I want to move it to?” may pop up as a reoccurring internal dialogue. Don’t worry if you feel like you are going insane, GLaDOS says it’s all fine as long as our vital readings are within acceptable limits.

Blue rings pop out from elements when they “click” together, which is a nice feedback to have, especially with your finger over the display. Sometimes, elements will “unlatch” with the smallest of swipe, which results in bridge panels that disconnect from each other as you try to lift your finger from the touchscreen.

The issues listed here are really small, but they become truly evident when replaying a level over and over, trying to fine-tune that one bridge connection that always fails. We wouldn’t call them game-breaking, but we would love it if ClockStone Software manages to make controls a bit more fluid in the future.

The Cake

Please know that the cake is a lie. However, a Companion Cube will be provided in later levels to provide comfort. The Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak. In the event that the Companion Cube does speak, the Enrichment Center urges you to disregard its advice.

All in all, we are having fun with Bridge Constructor Portal. Its difficulty ramps up fast, so we don’t feel like we are being held by the hand for the first 10 levels of the game or anything. Its aesthetic nails the Aperture Labs tone. Its physics engine makes the bridge construction (and destruction) a pleasure to observe. Aside from the minor issues with the controls, we would say this is a solid puzzle game and a great nostalgia-tickler for Portal fans. Some purists may feel a bit disheartened by this entry, but if you set the bitterness over a certain “3” aside, you will find that this is a fun little game to keep on your phone and play when you have some time to kill.

Cons

  • Controls are a bit stiff and finnicky
  • This is not the Portal you are looking for… wait, that was the wrong quote bag


News credit : Phonearena

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