As a series that keeps on innovating it’s hard to knock Bridge Constructor. From the roots of engineering physics puzzles has grown a set of games that have taken the core principle of building a bridge and made it engaging and simple enough for anyone to play. The most recent entry tied in with Valve for licensing one of their properties and produced the fantastic, if brain melting, Bridge Constructor: Portal; and Headup Games have taken a few cues from that success. Working with AMC they’ve bagged the chance to add a little more peril to the genre whilst taking it to the next level. It might seem like a strange companionship at first, yet spend a bit of time with Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead and it’s actually a really good match. Who will it appeal most to though – fans of the show or devotees of the game series?
What’s noticeably different about Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is the inclusion of a story, supported by three of the biggest faces from the TV show. Darryl, Michonne, Eugene and their likenesses are featured to lend some weight to the tale of a couple of survivors trying to make it day-to-day after the apocalypse. Arguably it’s Eugene’s presence that’s the best fit as he’s some knowledge of structures and engineering principles, and as such guides our newbies through building paths and roadways, as well as creating traps to keep the walker hordes at bay. As the team journey through the ravaged landscape they pick up other travellers that offer specialist assistance and add to the capabilities of the group – much like the franchise over the years it’s been running. Creating bridges is now only part of the puzzle as commands and movement are there for party members, and timing, coordination and mastering complexity all come to the fore.
Each level is usually one of three different types: the classic build-a-bridge, find an escape route, or kill all the walkers; with the latter two bringing out the party commands to move people around the level and perform actions. There’s always something to construct (it’s not giving up its moniker that easily), but what needs creating depends on the scenario given. Someone could be trapped on a roof and needs the area clearing out first. There might be a collapsed roadway that needs a replacement path laying down. It could even be a car needs crashing through a wall to wipe out a horde and clear an exit. With quite a variety in each of the 40 levels there’s nearly always something new to consider and a different action to take. That said, having the three separate elements in play can make things very complex very quickly, so be prepared to fail often.
Getting it wrong isn’t a bad thing in Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead though. In fact, the game encourages trial and error with it even recommending just getting things moving to see what happens. In previous incarnations it can be quite obvious what needs doing, in this that’s not the case and sometimes just flicking the switch and setting everything in motion is needed to give a clue. Don’t expect that to work every time, there’ll still be parts that will cause deep head scratching, and usually it’s when the team commands come into play. Based around waypoints, there’s a simple interface that asks that you input actions in sequence for when the character arrives. This could be pressing a switch, going up a ladder, shooting or throwing a distraction. Once the scenario plays out they’ll perform exactly what’s been set, and if it’s all correct then they’ll make it to the exit alive. Timing really becomes important here and can be the deciding factor between walking away or being eaten alive.
For the console version the interface is obviously pad controlled instead of touchscreen, and because of that it’s a bit clunky, especially with the command input as it needs a combination of stick and button to select. That can get a bit confusing if you hit the wrong one at the wrong time and it changes the waypoint you’re looking at when you wanted to pick an action. Switching between the commands and the build interface is easy, but quite often the build cursor disappears off screen and gets “trapped” behind the border decorations forcing a quit and reload to reset it. It’s a small annoyance though one that breaks up the trial and error testing when you start thinking about not doing the actions to avoid the restart. Otherwise the presentation is solid; load times fairly snappy; likenesses, cutscenes and written dialogue are good; and there are various iterations of the theme tune to strike the right tone. It looks and feels part of the universe the IP has developed over the years.
Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is a good physics puzzle game with a nice twist on the series formula. After the intro section it does get hard, though that means you feel like a genius when you beat a particularly challenging one. If you’re playing economically and sticking to the material spend limits, as well as trying to wipe out all the walkers, there’s hours of tactical building to be had. It even helps that three different solutions can be saved for each scenario allowing for further tweaking and experimentation at any time. With the cursor bug the console version is a tad frustrating, and hopefully a patch will fix that particular niggle before too long. Otherwise, pull out your gridded paper, mechanical pencil and protractor, and get ready watch your constructions survive whatever is thrown at them… or collapse under the weight of your ambition.
A PS4 review copy of Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead was provided by Headup Games PR team, and it’s available to buy now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, iOS and Android.
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