Not often am I prepared to accuse a game of being the “Dark Souls of X Y or Z” but there were times where the Bridge (during certain puzzles) feels like the Dark Souls of puzzle games. Some of the stages in this game can be quite brutal if not to the mind then at least to the eye. Not to say that this is against the games strengths. It’s nice to see a puzzle game that allows you to use simply logic to find obvious solutions that never seem obvious at the time.
So to describe the Bridge it is a side scrolling puzzle game where you can manipulate the physics of the world around you to meet your goals. You progress through levels by moving your old professor character left and right using the analog sticks. You can rotate the world itself moving entire levels around the screen to make his goals actually achievable, at first it may feel overwhelming but after a while I became quite used to it. Although it never stopped being disorientating after a few minutes of the same level.
The Bridge: Xbox One [Reviewed], Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PS Vita, Wii-U, PC
Developer: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Release Date: 14th August 2015
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
The art style and music in the game is simple but set the tone right, every level is in a black and white color palet with the same eerie music playing in the background it really sets an odd tone for the game but it is very fitting giving it a sense of identity. The levels themselves though are all very well designed with each puzzle being rather unique but all with virtually the same goals eg getting a key to unlock a door. Some levels even have multiple solutions rather than just having a one correct path. Although I wouldn’t dare to call this the mass effect of puzzle games just because it has more than one way to complete each level. It certainly doesn’t change the ending, I checked.
The Bridge seems to take some inspiration from Braid an older indie title back on the Xbox 360 as it has a time reversing mechanic whenever things go south (and things will go south unless you’re some kind of god at physics). I admit it’s a very handy tool it can often stop you from having to restart an entire level when you have done five minutes work in what can be a long winded puzzle. Being able to just push B to reverse back to the point before you went wrong will prevent a lot of annoyance as the challenge gets upped with virtually each level and then chapter. Although the Bridge seems to have an odd difficulty curve some levels later in the game can surprise you and actually be easy but then it’s pretty much certain that the next one will tax your brain again.
Nearly all of the stages in the game come down to getting a key to unlock a door but it’s the journey that is more important than the actual goals in games like these. Further into the Bridge you even have to start changing your own color from white to grey to get items of matching color. Unlike many side scrolling games it doesn’t really have enemies chasing you around in set patterns, although it does have enemies in the shape of dangerous crushing balls that will only crush you as a result of you moving the level. It’s alot like being responsible for your own deaths, which is also infuriating since you can only blame yourself.
One thing I began to notice as I progressed is that the game doesn’t always stick to the same formula, the goals may be the same but the actually game mechanics keep changing and evolving as you go along. The best example of this is when you complete the first four stages of the game and come to the “mirror chapters” now one would imagine that this would be the original four levels but reversed in some lazy manner. But it truly isn’t like that at all, it is quite remarkable how different the same stages actually become in this redesigned set of levels. Some of them don’t even look like they have been mirrored if anything you could argue that it’s just hard mode after finishing normal mode.
One thing that did get me thinking about the game other than its actual gameplay was that I’m not entirely sure if it has a fully fledged story behind the levels. Sure there’s text in the loading screens and you’re clearly playing as a scientist who is trying to get a better grasp on physics, its like each level is meant to test him as well as the player. As if your solving of each stage progresses his story which there doesn’t seem to be much of really, although I’ve always believed that the best story telling has been to “show” and not to just “tell” sure you can do both but if you’re only going to do one of them then definitely do the showing part. Which this game does do to a small extent.
It does actually surprise me how much the Bridge never really relied too much on the same mechanic for example it could have exploited the time travel tool to hell but it doesn’t all it really does it act as a last checkpoint rewind. It also stops me from throwing my controller after five minutes of trying to balance a ball onto a button. No the Bridge likes to give you its tool set and then says “crack on” which it does rather well if you approach the levels with alot of logic and patience.
For a game that has been re released onto the Next Gen platforms I say its welcome entry into the puzzle genre. It is for sure one of the better and most certainly difficult puzzle games I have played. Seriously if you can do this without using even one guide then you clearly have a future as a Physics teacher. Or I am just a bit stupid.