When Bridge Constructor Portal was announced earlier this month, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t taken aback. After all, I have played the first two Portal games, and while this mobile spin-off incorporates some of the series’ elements, I wouldn’t call it the follow-up that Portal fans have been clamoring for.
Even so, $5 isn’t asking for a lot, and, at least on paper, Bridge Constructor Portal has plenty to offer.
The game tasks players with being able to use metal girders and suspension wires to build bridges. These bridges allow the always-moving vehicles to get across from one side of the level to the other. Because the game employs a realistic physics system, you have to make sure that the bridges you build properly distribute weight. Otherwise, the bridges will collapse under all the stress.
Whereas previous Bridge Constructor games stopped there, however, Bridge Constructor Portal, you guessed it, uses elements of the Portal series to make the levels that much trickier. For example, many levels include sets of portals where you can hurl vehicles, companion cubes, and other objects through. Items like propulsion gel, sentry turrets, and aerial faith plates are also present and accounted for.
With that combination, the more you progress within Bridge Constructor Portal, the more you realize that the levels end up looking like a frenzy of flying vehicles than your typical roadway. Then again, there’s nothing typical about the game, so I suppose it’s fitting.
As with the Portal series, objects sent through portals maintain their momentum, so you will have to think about how to best use them. It’s no surprise, then, that things can get rather complicated, rather quickly, and they do. The unlimited number of dry runs lend to the send of progress, however, and lend to a sense of accomplishment once you finally get past a certain level you might be stuck on.
Also lending to that sense of accomplishment is the way that Bridge Constructor Portal scales the difficulty. Each level allows you to either get by with one vehicle or a convoy of them. The risk is greater with completing levels with a convoy of vehicles, since you have to account for the greater weight and increased chance of collisions, but you get to brag about it to others.
Not that completing levels with one vehicle is a trivial matter — the game’s mind-boggling levels will make you think hard about how best to approach them, so there is no feeling of scraping by if you manage to get one vehicle from one side of the level to the other.
Making that journey a bit more fun is GLaDOS, the dry and sometimes sarcastic AI voiced by Ellen McLain. She is as witty as ever and brought a smile to my face when I heard her voice, only for that smile to go away as I realize that my bridge engineering skills are not as good as I might think they are.
Poor bridge engineering skills aside, I never felt like Bridge Constructor Portal wasn’t fun. Sure, it might not have been the Portal game I was expecting, but it’s great to look at, the music selection is spot-on, and the game itself was fun to play. Making things better, levels beg to be replayed, since there is usually more than one way to complete them.
If you want to catch a glimpse of what’s possible with the Portal series beyond the Portal gun, Bridge Constructor Portal will be available tomorrow, December 20 for $4.99. The game will also be released for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch in early 2018 for $9.99.