It is often taught that Newton discovered gravity after an apple dropped on his head. While the story is most likely a myth, the protagonist of The Bridge discovers gravity in much the same way, if you replaced “discovered gravity” with “discovered he could manipulate gravity in the same way one would play with a snowglobe.” Originally developed by a two-man development team as a school project, The Bridge has won more than a dozen awards with its clever mechanics and unique artstyle already. Recently, it was approved and released on Steam after a two year wait.
Basic gameplay revolves around the use of gravity in a collection of Escher-inspired stages. During play, the stage can be rotated in 360 degrees along its axis, which allows your character to turn walls and ceilings into walkways as you stride ever diligently towards your goal. Death is cheap in The Bridge, and is easily circumvented by rewinding time as far as you need, up to the beginning of the stage, however, dying will leave ghost-like shades wherever you met your untimely demise as reminders of your mistakes.
The controls are simple and responsive on keyboard or gamepad; however, the rate at which you’re allowed to rotate feels undeniably sluggish when compared to the speed that your character and loose objects fall. This gets particularly frustrating considering the delicacy of the gravity system – what may seem to be an obvious solution to a stage becomes less so when you are halted by the game’s prohibitive rotational speeds. It’s an obvious provision to ensure that puzzles are solved “correctly,” but it’s more than a little disappointing to find that your out-of-the-box solution was never in the running to begin with.
Puzzle complexity naturally increases as the game progresses from its rather humble beginnings, with each chapter adding new mechanics to add to the original gravity system and mesh well together instead of feeling like the “next big thing” or overpowering the previous tricks you learn as you advance from stage to stage. Instead of holding your hand and telling you how new mechanics work, The Bridge teaches by introducing it through a tutorial stage, after which whatever you’ve learned is applied to the subsequent stages, which is refreshing in an age where even the simplest of games feature excessively detailed tutorials to make sure the player knows what he’s doing. Extra, more difficult stages are unlocked via “The Mirror World” upon finishing the game and walking across the titular bridge, adding some replayability to an otherwise short game.
The game’s art is of particular uniqueness. Promotional material boasts its similarity to black-and-white lithographs, which is completely true – it’s dark , rich, and deceptively simple. A closer inspection of the game’s stages reveals an incredible amount of detail that you might just miss while you’re spinning your way to victory. Apart from the art, the game’s personality leaves quite a lot to be desired, with an uninspired and repetitive soundtrack as well as little story aside from some strange one-off lines seemingly spoken by a bust of some sort, or perhaps the protagonist. It’s difficult to tell, and it is here that The Bridge lacks any of the cleverness that its puzzles were given.
The Bridge is 50 shades of Newtonian physics, impossibly clever environments, and gorgeous art. Any puzzle aficionado looking for any of the above would be hard-pressed to find anything that fills all three with as much gusto as The Bridge, despite its length and lack of tangible plot.
- Absolutely gorgeous art
- Incredibly attractive price point for any puzzle gamer
- No plot to be seen
- Length leaves something to be desired
Available on: PC; Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysics Guild; Developer: Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda ; Players: 1; Released: February 22, 2013; ESRB: NA; MSRP: $14.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.