I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve stopped using my phone to play games … well, unless they are PC games, Terrible Chess, or Bridge Constructor. That last one is a game I’ve played for years, and now developer ClockStone and publisher Headup Games have given me a reason to build even more bridges with an entirely new experience that expands the gameplay possibilities by bringing in concepts from Valve’s Portal puzzler.
Bridge Constructor Portal is out now for $10 on Steam (where I played it). As the name suggests, it smushes together the structural-assembly mechanics of Bridge Constructor with the wormhole action of Portal. Your goal is to rig up strong enough contraptions to enable a forklift (or a convoy of forklifts at a higher difficulty) to get to their goal. But the obstacles in your way often make it impossible for a standard bridge to work, and that’s where the portals come in. Unlike Valve’s Portal and Portal 2, you don’t get a gun or choose where to create the entrance and exit doorways through spacetime. Instead, those come integrated into the level when you start, and you just need to design ramps and roadways to take advantage of those helpful rips in the fabric of the universe.
This setup makes the game a more complex version of Bridge Constructor rather than a variation on Portal, but that’s not a bad thing. I enjoy the process of encountering a new stage and all of its challenges, figuring out what I have to do, and then building absurd rigs to execute on my ideas. That’s a solid, maybe timeless, gameplay loop, and Bridge Constructor Portal nails it.
Of course, ClockStone did bring in plenty of Portal flavor. You are building bridges for Aperture Science, the amoral science-technology conglomerate from the Half-Life universe and the creators of the portal gun. The world takes on the aesthetic of an Aperture Science “pocket universe,” and GLaDOS — the villainous A.I. from Portal — is your guide and tormentor once again.
This is a smart evolution of the Bridge Constructor genre. It’s also a reminder that mashups and crossovers are fun and more games should do them. We’ve already had Mario + Rabbids this year and now Bridge Constructor Portal. I want more of this kind of thing in 2018.