Platforms Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC Genre Puzzle
Developer/Publisher Ty Taylor and Mario Castaneda
First released in 2013, The Bridge has seen success on several platforms through several distributors. Now seeing a release on the Xbox One, the title tasks players with navigating Escher-esque levels of increasing difficulty. The end goal for each level is a simple one, unlock the padlocks on the door by obtaining keys and make your way through the door. Unable to jump, the protagonist is able to walk around while you tilt the landscape left or right, going so far as to completely invert it if you so choose. The earlier levels will not require much thinking to complete, serving more as an introduction to the mechanics, however this quickly changes as obstacles are placed in your path, additional puzzle components are added, and more obscure level designs are presented.
Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this increase in difficulty is the sudden spike you encounter a few levels into the game. One early level in particular requires the player to completely rethink their approach to the game and walk along the outside of the level in order to grab one of the keys needed to progress. Up until this point, and even during this level, you are unsuccessful in your attempt if you or any other integral part of the solution falls off the level, deterring you from wandering over the edge of any platform. Having to drastically modify how you view the game’s solutions requires a significant amount of thought, particularly that early on and may lead to a great deal of frustration until you realize you have strictly been viewing the puzzles with a relatively narrow perspective. This forced restructuring of your video game puzzle-solving skills can be quite off-putting as the solution breaks most of the pre-established rules. Once past this initial hurdle, The Bridge takes full advantage of your less restrained approach to the puzzles, even making you do such things as getting yourself intentionally pulled into wormholes. Due to this abstract form of thinking, completing later levels can be incredibly satisfying, even if completion was partly due to luck rather than meticulous planning.
Eventually a mechanic is introduced which allows you to switch between two shades: white and grey. While inverting the colour of the protagonist and allowing him to grab or interact with items of his new colour, performing this inversion also flips where he stands, drastically altering the accessible areas. The door needed to complete the level may be one colour while the keys required to unlock the padlocks may be the opposite, forcing you to methodically chart your course through the level’s walkways in order to arrive at specific destinations while being the appropriate colour. Add some large boulders which roll around the level as you rotate it, instantly killing the protagonist upon impact, and levels become far more difficult. There is even a component which allows you to modify which way gravity will affect certain elements of the level, although this is by far the most irritating mechanic as it is not thoroughly explained and requires trial and error to master. While players will undoubtedly understand the concept behind the gravity manipulation after completing one or two levels containing it, it is frustrating for that first while simply due to an unclear introduction and a reliance on several props dispersed throughout the level hinting towards its effect but not going beyond those subtle hints.
Each new chapter brings with it a new component to challenge you, culminating in some incredibly complex levels requiring very specific and precise movements, all before unlocking a mirrored mode which presents an entirely new challenge despite using the same levels you have already completed. Every level is now as if you were viewing it in a mirror, including the controls. It is a simple twist in gameplay but presents a monumental shift in difficulty, albeit not an unfair one. Those looking for a challenge will enjoy what the mirrored levels offer. There is certainly a learning curve associated with the mirrored levels, but at no point does it feel cruel or sadistic, it is simply an added challenge for those interested, and possibly one of the fairest ways to have increased the difficulty in the genre.
The Bridge is certainly not a lengthy game at first glance, only boasting roughly two dozen unique levels, but it should not be discounted for this fact. Difficult levels may require upwards of an hour to figure out, possibly even more if you miss a specific detail or fail to see a route you are able to take. This is not a title you can expect to speed through, as the best course of action is generally to take an initial lap through the level to interact with as much as possible and see how dynamic elements such as the boulders react to the level design. Failure is an inevitable event in The Bridge, although a rewind feature allows you to backtrack until you have unwritten your error and may move forward having learned from the mistake. The inclusion of such a feature is what makes incredibly complex puzzles more enjoyable rather than turning them into controller-breaking horrors.
While playing The Bridge, what begins as a simple game of rotating the screen to navigate the protagonist to a door becomes something far more complex, requiring multiple strategic laps of entire levels, modifying gravity for specific items, and shifting between contrasting grey and white worlds. While there may not be endless hours of replay value, the challenge presented by intricate level design will keep most players busy for at least six or seven hours, likely more, and easily double that time if completing the mirrored levels is something you wish to accomplish. The gravity manipulation mechanic is a blot on the game’s otherwise fantastic design, having no introduction or explanation, but thankfully it is only present in the final chapter. The Bridge will undoubtedly enjoy more success on the Xbox One, allowing new players to experience the artistically gorgeous puzzle game which forces players to not only think ahead, but also bend or break stereotypical rules to reach their final goal.
- Gorgeous hand-drawn levels
- Later puzzles require a great deal of forethought and planning
- Mirrored levels add a significant yet fair difficulty increase
- Gravity mechanic is not introduced or explained well
- Little replay value
The Score: 7.6
Eric is an Xbox editor for Analog Addiction where you can find all the latest gaming news, previews, reviews, and everything else that rhymes with those words. ‘Like’ Analog Addiction on Facebook to receive all of the updates as they’re posted.