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The Bridge Review – MC Escher Would Be Proud
The Bridge isn’t about giving players a multitude of unique abilities and powers. Your character can’t jump, run, or even trot at a brisk pace. What he can do, however, is fully rotate the world any which way possible. The Bridge may not dole out many abilities, but the main skill you have at your disposal gives you agency over the entire world. The Bridge takes this gameplay conceit to create some devilish mind benders, and anyone looking to exercise their cerebral cortex should look no further than The Bridge. Its glaring flaw is its length; even though I was legitimately stuck on some levels for quite some time, I wound up beating the game in about 2 hours.
But during that fleeting time, you’ll experience some elaborate and genuinely rewarding puzzles. All of The Bridge’s levels revolve around your ability to tilt the world at your discretion. Although every single puzzle has only one goal (to reach the door), The Bridge throws enough obstacles in your way to make these puzzles more difficult, which in turns make them all the more satisfying. Some doors will be locked by keys or some stages will have boulders rolling around that are deadly to the touch. The start of every world also introduces a new mechanic that becomes the theme of the subsequent levels. A particularly fiendish one is when the game throws black and white keys at you. You’ll have to utilize certain portals located throughout the level to switch between these two colors and pick up the corresponding key. Many of the more challenging levels will often implement prior mechanics you’ve encountered, and successfully solving these head scratchers will require proper handling of all these mechanics in concert.
Regardless of all the wrinkles that are added to the puzzles, you still only have one singular control over the world. And it’s amazing how much mileage The Bridge gets out of a seemingly simple feature. It’s a testament to the ingenious level design and the precise architectures of these labyrinthine puzzles. Like any good puzzle game, the feeling of finally pushing through and getting to that door is euphoric, especially after you’ve been pounding your head against it for what seems like an eternity.
Although there is a slight feeling of trial and error that begins to seep in during the latter puzzles, that feeling is kept to a minimum thanks to its intelligent rewind feature. At any time, you can infinitely rewind time and redo anything you’ve done. This squashes the frustration from starting over a long, multi-faceted puzzle. Accidentally fumbling up the last step and having to repeat the entire process again is no fun, especially if you’ve already figured out the solution and are just trying to put it into motion. The Bridge’s smart rewind function is a helpful tool that benefits the game immensely.
After completing the game, mirrored versions of all the stages unlock. These mirrored puzzles also have another layer of difficulty added to it, whether it’s a boulder that wasn’t there before, or an alternate key that’s placed in a harder to reach crevice. Although this does add some replay value, it’s a bummer that the basic level design is still the same from the ones you’ve already played. I would’ve much rather seen some brand new worlds, as there isn’t any fundamental difference in the overall structure of the levels between mirrored and non-mirrored versions.
The first thing you’ll notice when you first boot up The Bridge is the incredible hand drawn art style. The whole world is devoid of any color, and the black and white palette emphasizes the penciled aesthetic to its fullest extent. Back in my Antichamber review, I mentioned how that game is basically an MC Escher painting come to life. Well, The Bridge might as well be another piece of work made by the Dutch artist himself. Many of the level designs crib directly off of his art, such as stairways leading to impossible areas or columns that overlap and connect to hidden sections. The game takes a lot of inspiration from MC Escher in its arrangement, and it’s fantastic to partake in such a detailed and intricate world.
The main knock against the game is its length. It’s currently going on Steam for 15$, and that sort of money for an approximately 2-4 hour game will undoubtedly turn some folks off. But if anyone is dying to have his or her logical prowess tested should immediately get The Bridge. Its inventive conundrums and downright beautiful hand drawn art style make it an easy recommendation for anyone seeking a clever 2-D puzzler. Anyone else who isn’t really feeling their cranial juices flowing at this moment should wait for a Steam sale to pick this gem up.