‘Bridge Constructor Portal’ review

It's not the game Portal fans wanted, but 'Bridge Constructor Portal' is a blast

It’s been more than six years since we last visited Aperture Science in Portal 2, and in the ensuing years, Valve has shown a remarkable level of disinterest in continuing the beloved series’ dark and twisted science-fiction tale. Though the series left off on a satisfying note, most of us would be ecstatic to have a little more Portal in our lives.

Bizarre as it is, we now have it, courtesy of ClockStone Software and Headup Games, the developers of the Bridge Constructor franchise. Bridge Constructor Portal, a themed stand-alone expansion of the  2012 bridge-building physics puzzle game, is unlike anything else you’ve played with “Portal” in the title.

You’re the tester now

Bridge Constructor Portal, much like the original Bridge Constructor, is a 2D physics puzzle game. With a supply of metal beams and suspension cables, you – a new volunteer in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center – create increasingly complex pathways for employees to safely drive across the lab.

[It] proves Aperture is about more than first-person puzzles.

Bridge design seems like it would be exponentially more difficult than the basic first-person adventuring in Portal and Portal 2, but the game’s visual cues easily highlight your structure’s faults for quick fixes. Having your bridge collapse under its own weight before a vehicle even goes across? Just hit the “test” button and you’ll spot the metal beams struggling to stay intact. If a suspension cable keeps snapping, adding a few extra can help to distribute the load, and the game allows you to easily do this without dismantling your entire construction first.

It’s addicting and engaging even before you consider its Portal elements. The game’s trial-and-error approach to construction lets you learn on the fly and continue to develop your designs without punishing you for failure. Finally getting a vehicle to safely reach the exit after you create the perfect bridge is immensely satisfying, particularly when you’ve used an unconventional design.

In fact, you’ll rarely create conventional bridges in Bridge Constructor Portal. Almost immediately, GLaDOS – voiced by original actress Ellen McLain – introduces the titular portals into each course, requiring you to design multiple bridges to account for their mandatory detours.

While Portal and Bridge Constructor seem completely different at first glance, the basic logic for solving puzzles is remarkably similar. You still must “think with portals,” judging how to build your bridges in ways that don’t block the non-linear, and often invisible path you’re creating from point A to point B.

Bridge Constructor Portal review people

Many of the scenarios fans saw in the Portal games find their way into Bridge Constructor. Some portals end up spitting vehicles from the ceiling, forcing you to build a new bridge strong enough to withstand their impact. As GLaDOS adds more pairs of portals in later stages, your designs begin to look more like a spider web than an old-fashioned roadway.

You also get access to other Portal tools, such Companion Cubes and Propulsion Gel, to help vehicles with build enough momentum to launch off a ramp to reach a new bridge or portal. Watching a truck fly into the air, waiting to see if your contraption works, can be as exhilarating as the most complex puzzles in Portal 2.

There is almost never just one way to construct a bridge.

The pace of Bridge Constructor — building, then testing — doesn’t lead to the same “eureka” moments you get while actively troubleshooting test rooms in Portal, but that’s also what makes Bridge Constructor Portal’s stages so replayable. There’s almost never just one way to construct a bridge, and you’re rarely punished for relying on a few particular strategies.

Once you’ve managed to move a vehicle safely to the end of a stage, you also have the opportunity to transport an entire convoy of 3-10 vehicles. It’s an opportunity to see if your design is really worthy of commendation, as each car will further strain your construction. Watching the ninth car in a convoy snap a cable and tumble to its doom isn’t disheartening, and the little stick-figure “bendies” in each car are still adorable when they drive to their deaths.

Don’t call it a Portal game

Ease-of-play aside, Bridge Constructor Portal won’t be what every Portal fan is looking for. It’s hilarious, with GLaDOS and the Aperture supervisor causing us to laugh out loud, but it doesn’t really a story, and lacks the mystery and intrigue of the first-person games. You are merely a nameless slave for GLaDOS, completing her puzzles because she told you to, and because the last person to refuse was dropped into a fiery pit of doom. With the series’ signature mechanics translating so well to the Bridge Constructor framework, there’s real potential for the strong world-building and narrative to make the jump, as well.

Bridge Constructor Portal is not Portal 3. It is, however, a neat use of its gameplay ideas, and a neat glimpse into how the Portal franchise could expand beyond its original, first-person form. You don’t need a love for civil engineering or physics to enjoy Bridge Constructor Portal’s clever stages — just a love of silly, clever brain-teasers.

Bridge Constructor Portal was reviewed on Mac with a review code provided by the publisher.

Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 teaser proclaims it's almost feeding time in Hawkins

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Gaming

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs brings 3D demolition into your living room

Angry Birds is releasing its next entry in the spring of 2019 - with a new spin. Bringing 3D environments and destruction, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses augmented reality to add a new dimension to a classic series.
Gaming

Make some room in your backlog. Here are all the games to look out for in 2019

2019 is already a huge year for video games, with a large number of series getting new installments, including some that have been dormant for years. Brand new franchises are also being created.
Gaming

From Combat Evolved to Guardians, here are the Halo games ranked best to worst

The Xbox and PC series Halo began in 2001, and 11 different games have released since then. These are the Halo games ranked from best to worst, including spinoff titles and expansions.
Gaming

How to sync and troubleshoot your PS4's DualShock 4 controllers

Sony's Bluetooth-enabled DualShock 4 controllers for PlayStation 4 are some of the best on the market, but connection issues aren't unheard of. Here's how to sync them to your console.
Product Review

The Division 2 brings the most fun we've ever had to Washington, D.C.

After 55 hours with The Division 2, it’s clear that Ubisoft has improved on the original in almost every way. The world is richly detailed, the story missions are wonderful, gunplay and enemy design are great, and the endgame content is…
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Gaming

The Division 2 is another loot shooter with a dull story. Does it matter?

The Division 2 has a story to tell. It's not a good story. It's not told very well. But by-golly, The Division 2 is going to make you sit your ass down and listen whether you want to or not.
Gaming

A new hope is lost as Disney dismisses rumors of a revival of Lucasfilm Games

According to job listings on the Disney website, the company has plans to revive Lucasfilm Games. This comes as a surprise following the shuttering of LucasArts in 2013 and could potentially mean more Star Wars games.
Gaming

Last gen had some hits! Take a look at the best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Computing

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.
Deals

Hook up your Nintendo Switch with these deals on accessories right now on Amazon

The Nintendo Switch is a portable system with tons of accessories. The problem is, hooking it up doesn't come cheap. Every week, we look for the best deals on Nintendo Switch accessories on Amazon so you don't have to.
Gaming

Epic Games is offering $100 million to game developers with no catch

Epic Games launched a new grant program called Epic MegaGrants. The program will dish out $100 million in funds to developers working in the 3D graphics community, even if they don't use Unreal Engine.