By: Casey Curran
Way too often I will play a game with a unique artistic direction and completely non-engaging gameplay. The Bridge, to my pleasant surprise, was not one of these games. Don’t get me wrong, its art direction is incredible, but as a puzzle game it was able to remain engaging. The artistic style would occasionally get in the way of the gameplay, but The Bridge is one of those rare titles that works both as art and a game.
Due to the minimal options the game provides, there is not much that can go wrong in the controls. This is not a bad thing, however, as walking, tilting gravity, and rewinding time are more than enough for the game to build a variety of puzzles off of. The real issue is that both moving your main character and tilting the gravity of the world are way too slow. This can make many sections tedious and feel like they take longer than they should.
From both a technical and artistic standpoint, The Bridge’s visuals are perfect. The game offers a grey world where everything has a distinct look as if drawn by a pencil. This artistic direction is a wonder to behold, as there are no jagged edges and everything fits perfectly. The music blends well with the visuals, creating a creepy, yet soft tone to the game.
The Bridge has a very simple idea of manipulating gravity coupled with plenty of variations to keep it interesting. The game starts out simple by getting keys to doors and avoiding giant boulders before quickly introducing ideas that shake things up. For instance, vortexes that hold the unnamed main character (or any objects) inside until pressing a switch to turn it off, or pillars that teleport you to a different location. These are added often enough to keep things interesting, yet stay long enough to fully flesh them out.
Unfortunately, there is one huge flaw that hurts the puzzle solving. Remember how I said the game moves too slowly? Well, this really ends up having an effect when trying to solve a puzzle. Trial and error becomes a chore as it forces you to watch the character lurch to the destination. This is somewhat mitigated by the speed of rewinding time in case it is the wrong solution, yet it still seriously disrupts the game. Discouraging experimentation to this extent undermines The Bridge as a puzzler built around testing out ideas.
There is also an element that plays a major role in later levels that doesn’t quite work. This is based around getting to an area where the character is unaffected by any gravity changes. It results in the object and character having different gravitational pulls, where one may be pulled down while the other is pulled to a wall. Keeping track of both at once proves difficult, however, resulting in objects that can kill you being a little too unpredictable. Going back to how slow the character moves, experimentation is a tedious solution to this.
The game is short, with only four chapters, but a mirror mode of each one, which also adds a variety of new obstacles, helps pad out the length in a fun way. Even with that, it won’t take players long to get through. This, combined with the prior issues, aren’t enough to ruin the game, but these flaws do affect it.
While offering some fun puzzles, The Bridge is just a little too concerned with style over substance to be something truly great. The main character’s speed fits in the world well, but in term of gameplay, it’s very tedious. Ultimately, The Bridge has some very interesting ideas that are challenging but not too vague, which makes for an engaging and aesthetically pleasing puzzler.