Breathing New Life
Portal 2 came out seven years ago, and that’s a long time we’ve had to go without a new entry in that phenomenal franchise. Despite the fact that it’s been long dormant, it still remains relevant in the gaming industry, and is one of Valve’s best releases to date.
That’s the announcement and release of Bridge Constructor Portal from Clockstone Software took us all off guard. After all this time, there was a developer willing to take on the legendary Portal name and hopefully breathe new into it. The game has already released on PC and mobile devices, so how does it compare on the Nintendo Switch?
The story of Bridge Constructor Portal is as simple as you’d expect for a mobile game. Aperture is looking for a new person to head the testing department for building bridges. After some witty dialogue about only accepting people who agree with their ideals, you are inducted into the company to take on the challenge.
The story doesn’t do much outside of that, but it does incorporate the warped humor that we’ve come to love from the Portal series. Subtle references to cake, Companion Cubes, and dictatorial companies are all here in full form.
On top of that, Ellen McLain has returned to voice GLaDOS as the instructor for the game. I have to say, her addition to the game helps make Bridge Constructor Portal feel alive in the Portal universe, and a worthy spin-off in its own right. It’s clear that Clockstone has a deep love for the franchise by including these references.
Building with Portals
Where Bridge Constructor Portal drastically defers from the main games is in the gameplay. Instead of using a Portal Gun as you solve complex puzzles, you’ll be creating bridges for forklifts to travel on (with the added help of portals).
Unlike other bridge building games, though, Bridge Constructor Portal plays into physics much more. Each bridge you build must have proper support or the entire structure will come crashing down. It makes each level feel more like a problem you must think through. You can’t just build and hope everything goes right. In that sense, Bridge Constructor Portal, again, feels authentic and like it has a place in the Portal series.
When building bridges, you’re given a fictional currency to spend. While it doesn’t seem to have any limits, the end of each level will tell you how much you spent as a means of encouraging the player to make bridges with less parts. That said, I often ignored those numbers in favor of solving the puzzles.
As you progress through the game, you’ll start with simple bridges but, before you know it, you’ll be feeding forklifts through series of portal networks and ramps, desperately hoping that they don’t crash into each other. Clockstone gets really creative with a lot of their puzzles later in the game.
There’s another clever design choice with Bridge Constructor Portal. It takes inspiration from games like Lemmings, where characters will follow a pre-determined path that you must alter to get them to the end. When you finish building, you’ll first send a single forklift through. If it gets to the end, you pass the level and go on. If you want the high score, then you can send a convoy of forklifts (anywhere from 3-6) that all have to make it to the end. That’s where your building skills will be tested. It’s a nice way of making the game approachable by all types of players. Those that want the challenge can get it.
The game is also bolstered by a solid set of controls. The game is loaded up with button controls but, if you want to play it in handheld, you can also use the Switch’s touch screen to build your bridges. It provides a nice set of options that doesn’t let the Switch version feel functionally inferior.
You’re Going to Miss This
If there’s one complaint I have about Bridge Constructor Portal, is that it’s not very ambitious. After a seven-year hiatus, I can’t help but wish that something bigger had come from the franchise’s return (Valve didn’t make this game, so that softens the blow a bit). That said, the game has a simple goal in mind and doesn’t do much outside of what it is. Because of this, it will likely only attract those who have been fans of the series. There isn’t much here for other players.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Bridge Constructor Portal was provided by Head Up Games.