Bridge Constructor Portal Revives Physics Fun, GLaDOS Taunts
The “Portal” franchise, still one of the best of all time, provided two things to gaming culture that still exist from the 2007 and 2011 games.
GLaDOS, the homicidal artificial intelligence that runs the testing facility, and the Weighted Companion Cube, a device used to help solve puzzles but to which most players grew attached, have returned in a spin-off game called “Bridge Constructor Portal.”
The game is based off a previous game, “Bridge Constructor,” where players are tasked to create bridges over objects, obstacles, and dangers while considering the effects of real world physics in their solutions. Much like in “Portal,” gravity and momentum are cruel mistresses.
In “Bridge Constructor Portal,” the action takes place inside Aperture Laboratories and involves the stick figures seen in many of the level diagrams in “Portal.” These figures come to life to drive vehicles from one point to another. It is up to the player to make sure they arrive at their destination safely.
Well, not really. In typical GLaDOS fashion, she is more concerned about the vehicle and cargo arriving safely than she is about the workers themselves.
Using different elements, players construct bridges that must be strong enough to handle the weight of the vehicles, survive any impacts from falling vehicles, and not collapse under the weight of the materials used to construct the bridge. The puzzle part comes into play when the scenarios provide specific anchor points where the bridges must secure themselves.
Different modes, from testing to convoy, allow the player to see how well their construction will hold up under the rigors of the testing facility. Multi-colored portals, sentry turrets, and trigger buttons, which is where the Companion Cube enters the picture, add to the challenges of getting the vehicles to their destination.
There are no limits to how much material players can use to achieve a solution, but each piece costs money. The goal is to build a successful bridge or bridges in the cheapest way possible. Cave Johnson would be proud.
While the action is straight forward, and like the “Portal” games, the addition of GLaDOS as a mentor, antagonist, and humorist makes the game more entertaining. Her barbs and insults only hurt because they are true.
The techniques of successful building are taught as the game progresses. New elements are introduced and demonstrated, so the player never feels overwhelmed. In the latter stages of the game, be prepared to think out of the box for solutions and experiment with things previously thought impossible.
It is not a true “Portal” game. Much like “Half-Life 3,” we may never see a “Portal 3” game. But “Bridge Constructor Portal” is a nice way to get some of those feelings of physics-based success and failure experienced in the mainline “Portal” franchise.
GLaDOS would be proud, but she is still going to try and kill you.
“Bridge Constructor Portal” is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, and smartphones. It is expected to be released sometime in 2018 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It has not been rated by the ESRB. This post was written with a purchased copy on Steam for Windows.