Price: $ 4.99
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Bridge Constructor is a long running series that has taken the same basic bridge-building gameplay concept and layered some aesthetic and narrative theming around it. The first game had you building ways for people to get to an island to repopulate it. Then, came the medieval version which had you finding ways to get troops into battle. Now, there’s Bridge Constructor Portal which takes cues from Valve’s wildly celebrated Portal and has you trying to get Aperture Science vehicles through a variety of hazardous environments while using the same solid, physics-based gameplay and a light sprinkling of Portal’s humor and mechanics to keep things interesting.
Bridging for science
Bridge Constructor Portal follows the same basic format of just about every other bridge building puzzle game out there. Every level presents a different environment and a set of tools you can use to build structures that can make a safe path for vehicles to travel on. In the early stages of the game, these structures are a lot of really straightforward bridges, but later evolve into ramps and other, more bizarre creations.
Because you’re building these things in the world of Portal, you can also expect your scenarios to feature weighted companion cubes, sentry turrets, emancipation grills, and (of course) portals. All of these objects help make this Bridge Constructor game feel more attached to the world of Portal, but they also serve to create some pretty interesting level design, and some of the best that the Bridge Constructor series has seen.
The bridge is a lie
In addition to featuring a lot of objects from the Portal series, Bridge Constructor Portal also borrows characters and tries to emulate the writing that helped make Portal the beloved classic it is today. This means you’ll see plenty of GLaDOS and hear a lot of flatly delivered lines that trivialize the human cost of Aperture Science’s extreme scientific pursuits.
It’s all stuff that is certainly reminiscent of Portal, but none of it really has the same charm of the other games, especially since it is doled out in such small chunks between levels. The bulk of the experience here is still on building bridges. The Portal-ness of the game adds some dimension and new gameplay mechanics, but is otherwise mostly set dressing.
The good news about Bridge Constructor Portal’s lack of commitment to channeling Portal is that it doesn’t really need to. The game features 60 levels of bridge building action that are plenty of fun without a bunch of references tied to them.
On top of this, the game offers two ways for passing each level. When you think you’ve found a “passable” solution to a level, you can send a single car across your bridge, but if you want a real challenge, you want to construct something that allows an entire convoy of vehicles to travel safely to the exit all at once. Taking this with the same solid bridge building from the Bridge Constructor series and some neat twists on traversal thanks to the technology present in the Portal games, and you’ve got a lot of game to wrap your mind around and play with.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for Bridge Constructor Portal to be more like Portal than it is a Bridge Constructor game, you are in for disappointment. That said, if you want a great bridge builder that creates mind-bending puzzles thanks to things from the Portal series (namely portals), then there’s plenty of reason to pick up Bridge Constructor Portal.