As a kid I’d go down to the beach with my grandma almost every day to pick up seashells and pieces of driftwood. I have warm memories of sitting in her garden hammering together the driftwood to try and recreate moose antlers I’d seen on a nature channel. At five years old my building skills weren’t fully developed it, but thankfully Bridge Constructor Portal allowed me to put them to the test once again.
The name pretty much says it all and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never played a game dedicated solely to bridge building. I’m familiar with the Portal series, of course, and its concept of dimensional puzzles where you go through one end and pop out another. For me, it was interesting to enter a world that mixed both genres in ways that felt fresh and – surprisingly – educational in the aim of constructing bridges in the hope of achieving coffee transportation services and access to artificial sunlight. Plus, you get to participate with GLaDOS in the testing (which I’m sure she created).
The complexity of the tests ranged from being laughably simple to sheer frustration. Finding the solution took a lot of trial and error on my part, from testing if there were stresses along the bridge to figuring out if it could handle the shock of a car being dropped on top of it. I can state first hand I spent more than an hour on certain tests puzzling over the solution and seeing if a current build was successful. Even when I was frustrated, I’d come back to stare at the screen to see if the answer had come to me.
I’m not mechanically inclined, but Bridge Constructor DID teach me a lot about how bridges worked and gave me a new appreciation behind the physics of how they’re structured. I did have a vague idea of how important triangles are in distributing weight and maintaining the integrity of a building, but had no idea how they could be utilized to make self-supporting bridges that don’t collapse when vehicles drove over them. There’s also issues with balancing the weight and stresses in each area, covering sway when the bridge moves, and figuring out if I should make it more rigid with the risk of adding more weight.
It’s a constant battle of give and take that puts your patience to the test, but when you’re able to tackle the more complex puzzles later on you feel like a bridge building, clicking genius. I know I did!
And it doesn’t get boring, either. The challenges get more intricate as you progress. I started laughing when the cars started to fall into rolling green acid and had to figure out how to keep them safely above it. I was flummoxed when presented with blue lines that prevented me from building past them and wanted to throw my keyboard across the room trying to figure out how to get my cars through multiple portals. Activating switches to raise doors or angling a companion cube just the right way to hit a jump pad aren’t feats to be taken lightly!
I found myself enjoying the act of building bridges and failing more than I thought possible. It’s a palette cleanser if you’re like me and just need something that’s on par with being simple and challenging. Whenever I’d hit a mental roadblock I’d jump into Bridge Constructor for a quick fifteen minutes to help move my thought process along. The act of building and solving puzzles helped me to not only regain my focus, but to go back to my original problem with renewed vigor.
If you’re like me and need a tool to help you focus or to get your brain out of a rut, I can’t recommend Bridge Constructor Portal enough. There’s more than enough challenges to keep your eyes rolling and declaring certain tests impossible, only to return an hour later and fly through it like a mad genius. Plus, you’ll learn a little something about bridge construction and engineering in the process, with GLaDOS back to antagonize you along the way.