Bridge Constructor Portal review – the cantilever is a lie

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Game review: Bridge Constructor Portal sees the return of GLaDOS
Bridge Constructor Portal (PC) – this was a triumph

The year’s most unexpected crossover may be the closest thing you’ll ever get to an official Portal 3.

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We don’t want to point out the obvious, or hammer home bad news, but there’s probably never going to be a Portal 3. We think most people have given up any hope of a new Half-Life, but a new Portal seems doomed for the same reasons: almost all the people that worked on the original games have left and Valve as a company no longer seems interested in traditional video games. They are surprisingly keen on crossovers though, so GLaDOS, true to her word, is still alive.

Previously, the closest we’ve ever got to Portal 3 is, bizarrely, Lego Dimensions, which managed to bring back the entire voice cast of the last game and featured all the characters in both the main game and a separate level pack. But there have also been references and cameos in everything from Bastion and Defense Grid: Awakening to Skyrim, Pinball FX 2 and Zen Pinball.

Bridge Constructor’s use of the licence isn’t quite as elaborate as Lego’s but since the original game is also a puzzler the crossover does mesh together a bit more organically. Bridge Constructor was first released in 2012 as a smartphone game and is exactly what it sounds like: you start with a wide ravine and have to build a bridge across it, and then test it by driving vehicles across it.

There’s been a number of spin-offs since, including one with a Medieval setting and another focusing on stunts, but Bridge Constructor Portal takes all the paraphernalia of Portal – including turrets, companion cubes, gel, and (obviously) portals – and creates a much more complicated puzzle game. The goal is still to build a bridge and drive something across it, but you’re now doing far more than just working out the optimum placement of struts and cables.

There are obvious similarities with World Of Goo, if that’s something you’re more familiar with, but the basics of constructing a bridge are picked up in moments. After that comes the Portal stuff, with the titular dimensional doorways working just the same as the mainline games: you go through one and you instantly come out the other with the same velocity. Which sounds simple enough until the portals start spitting the vehicles out in different directions, or creating loops that speed them up even more.

As in Portal 2, there is propulsion gel that makes you travel faster when you touch it and repulsion gel that turns any surface into a trampoline. On top of this are automatic turrets that will shoot at anything that comes near, the weighted companion cubes that are used to trigger switches, and a variety of environmental hazards that range from fireballs to vats of acid.

Bridge Constructor Portal (PC) - everything but the portal gun
Bridge Constructor Portal (PC) – everything but the portal gun

Building the bridges alone is already quite a task, since you can only attach components at specific points and everything has to be weighted and balanced properly. Bridge Constructor’s physics started off being laughably unrealistic but it’s been improved enough in the interim that right from the start there’s a lot to think about. And that’s great.

Progress comes in fits and starts, as you experiment with a level, fail multiple times, and then slowly get an inkling for the solution. The common puzzle game problem of realising what you have to do but not quite being able to implement it is present, but there’s a neat option where you only have to complete a level by sending one vehicle across. You can try it with more than one, but that’s an advanced feat that isn’t necessary to get to the next stage.

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Oddly, the worst part of the game is the portals themselves, which you’re not allowed to place yourself – which is strange given that’s the primary focus of the original games. And predictably the script is nowhere near as amusing as the real Portal, or even Lego Dimensions. There’s lots of references to the previous games but nothing that’s really laugh-out-loud funny. The game doesn’t embarrass itself in any way, but don’t buy it just for the jokes.

Since not being as funny as Portal is a crime committed by every other video game in existence it hardly seems a reason to criticise this odd but welcome crossover. With 60 stages and a very reasonable price point there’s very little to complain about here… except the fact that it isn’t Portal 3.

Bridge Constructor Portal

In Short: It might not be as funny as Portal but the puzzles are almost as inventive, in this contrived but entertaining crossover.

Pros: Bridge Constructor is a fine puzzle game in itself and manages to integrate the Portal gimmicks and gadgets surprisingly well. Plenty of content for a very reasonable price.

Cons: The lack of control over portals is disappointing and the game does start to run out of ideas by the halfway point. Script is mildly amusing rather than outright funny.

Score: 8/10

Formats: PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android
Price: £6.99
Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: ClockStone
Release Date: 20th December 2017 (consoles TBA)
Age Rating: 3

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