Bridge Constructor Portal Review — For Science
Bridge Constructor Portal is a title absolutely worthy of the Portal name, while at the same time setting itself apart from the mainline series.
When Portal 2’s credits rolled I, like a lot of people, sat on my couch craving for more from this universe. The characters, the world, and the unique gameplay of using portals to complete puzzles worked so perfectly with each other that it quickly became one of my favorite games of all time.
Fast forward seven years later and we still haven’t gotten a third, main installment in the franchise. I was beginning to think that we may never get anything from that world again. However, when Bridge Constructor Portal was officially announced this past December, my hope in the franchise was reignited, and I’m happy to say that after playing it, I hope that developer Clockstone Software (along with Headup Games and Valve) don’t stop anytime soon.
If you’re familiar with the Bridge Constructor franchise then you know how this entry works: players are tasked with building a roadway in order to get from the start of the level to the end. Players need to create beams, arches, and cables in order to keep these bridges stabilized. This time, however, portals, repulsion gel, and propulsion gel from the Portal franchise are also added to the mix, which can cause for some truly tricky puzzles.
One of the things that this title does so perfectly is that it makes you feel like you are in the world of Portal even though it doesn’t play like a traditional Portal title. From the Cave Johnson picture on the main menu, to the sounds borrowed from the original two titles, to even just the textures used, this Bridge Constructor Portal feels like you are somewhere in Aperture Laboratories, and that this is only the surface. Easily the best part of this immersion is the fact that Ellen McLain reprises her role as GLaDOS and, as expected, she’s still brilliant. She’ll make her normal, passive-aggressive threats before the start of each level, and when introducing you to a new feature, and her performance is the feature that really sold me during my time with the game.
While the PS4 version of the game is only a couple of days away, the PC version was released back in December, and when I played it back then, I had concerns that the console versions wouldn’t play as well due to the game’s reliance on a mouse. Generally speaking when a console game includes a cursor that’s to be controlled by a controller I haven’t exactly had the best experience.
I’m happy to say that I was proven wrong. The cursor included is smooth and responsive. In fact, I actually prefer using the joysticks to control the cursor, although that could simply be attributed to personal taste.
In terms of graphics, there’s nothing special to report. The title is presented in a style similar to the PSA’s found on the TV screens in Portal 2. Of course, a game like this doesn’t need 4K quality graphics, with upscaling, and 60 FPS mostly because it’s not a graphics heavy title. A realistic style is just not something the developer was going for and that’s totally fine. In fact, this actually works to Bridge Constructor Portal’s advantage because it helps set itself apart from the mainline Portal games, which generally look realistic.
Another negligible aspect of the game is its story. Aside from GLaDOS’s hilarious lines and a few pieces of text at the beginning of the game, there’s no story to be found here, and just like the graphics, that’s also ok! Not every game needs a thrilling narrative with twists and turns like Uncharted, The Last of Us, or even Portal 2. This game focuses almost entirely on the gameplay and it most certainly pays off.
In addition to the gameplay being fantastic, Bridge Constructor Portal also features over 60 unique levels, each of which taking anywhere between five minutes to an hour to complete. A good puzzle game needs fair but challenging levels, and this title certainly delivers that. There’s nothing more satisfying than pressing the “test” button and watching the vehicle make it across all of your bridges with ease. When a bridge failed, I wasn’t dejected because the game makes you feel like you’re so close to the solution that all you want to do is just keep trying.
That being said, one complaint I have for this, and a lot of puzzle games, is that it doesn’t include a custom puzzle maker — something that was present in Portal 2, and is, in my opinion, needed in almost every puzzle game. Custom/community puzzles allow for the game to almost have unlimited longevity with the community and, in my opinion, would only be beneficial. While it isn’t present in the game, it doesn’t hurt my opinion of it too much, mostly because the puzzle the developer gives you will last a long time.
Simply put Bridge Constructor Portal is a great puzzle game. It’s fair but challenging, it includes a ton of levels, and best of all it feels like a part of the world of Aperture Science, while at the same time feeling like it’s own separate entry in the franchise. At $14.99 I can absolutely recommend it to both hardcore fans of puzzle games and Portal, as well as casual gamers. It’s certainly no Portal 3 (and I don’t really think anyone was expecting it to be), but there’s no doubt in my mind that this title is worthy of the Portal name in every way, and I can’t wait to see what other creative ideas developers can do with the license in the future.