By: Quinn Potter
Ever had a dream in black and white where you are sleeping under a tree, an apple falls, you wake up, wander around, enter a house – and then everything gets topsy-turvy, gravity breaks and nothing really makes a lot of sense anymore? Welcome to The Bridge.
Here’s a nifty indie gem that’s been enchanting puzzle-gamers on Xbox 360 and STEAM for the past couple of years and is now available on Wii U, PlayStation (3/4 and Vita) and Xbox One.
Just a couple of well-placed controls that are simple, make perfect sense and are easy to use.
The graphics consist of black-and-white sketches that you might find as doodles in a high schooler’s notebook. Surprisingly, they work. They are intricate and detailed when they need to be (in the foreground) but are muted and fuzzy when they don’t (background).
It’s odd and underwhelming, but it connects well with the eerie, haunting flute and repetitive synthesized notes. If you get stuck on a level for too long, the sound can get a bit tedious, but that’s going to happen in almost any game you play.
Gameplay is challenging. Don’t ask me what the purpose is. That’s like asking someone what the purpose of dreaming is. I mean, maybe the purpose is to escape? Or maybe you should linger and explore? Maybe it’s supposed to shift your sense of reality… Or maybe you’ll just be happy to finish a session and find that you are still sane.
You could say this is a 2D puzzler that relies on logic… but it’s a very odd kind of logic, if there’s any logic here at all. However, that doesn’t detract in the least from the super-addictive nature of this little indie gem. The Bridge, for those who like this sort of game, can be highly addictive.
For example, indie games are currently having their moment as part of a two-year residency at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle. As I stood there, four out of five people passed by this game on their way to something with more lights, sounds, action, or color. However, the one person who sat down would sit for 45 minutes of completely absorbed puzzle play.
So, when it works, it works. There are 24 basic levels and 24 mirrored ones. If you’ve ever seen Perplexus in 3D, you’ll get a sense of what you’re dealing with in these puzzles. Want to rewind time, turn the world upside down, navigate “the void,” or have enough patience to explore the stairs to nowhere? You’ve found your game! When you start having conversations about moving the ball either into or out of the void, you’ll know you are on the right track.
As an art form, this might be considered highly successful. As a puzzler, there’s something lacking in both logic and narrative, so it’s not as enjoyable as it could have been.
If M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali sat down for drinks with Sigmund Freud, then started messing around with game design with a few physicists or art majors, The Bridge might be the result. It’s intriguing, fun and mind bending, but it’s convoluted enough to make you feel a bit lost most of the time. Gamers who like this are going to really like it, but if you don’t like it at the start, The Bridge isn’t likely to grow on you over the long run.