Who could've seen Bridge Constructor Portal coming? A mashup of the popular physics title and the prestigious first-person puzzler? It might sound like an unusual pairing, but rest assured, the formula works. Developer ClockStone has successfully merged its simple bridge building game with the modern classic to create a title you never knew you wanted.
If you've played the original Bridge Constructor before, the game's structure will be very familiar, only this time it's played through the guise of the Aperture Science Enrichment Centre. Following a brief job interview (that can result in a fiery demise), it's your job as a new Aperture Science employee to complete tests that task you with helping a vehicle get from point A to point B. You'll finish each level by, you guessed it, constructing bridges over pits, under traps, and through those famous portals.
It's the Portal aesthetic that's the icing on the cake. The look, sound, and vibe of Portal is very much intact, from the clinical test chamber levels to the familiar sound effects. Ellen McLain even reprises her role as GLaDOS, spouting her usual dry, deploring comments on your efforts. The writing might not be quite as tight as seen in the mainline Portal adventures, but the sense of humour is present and correct, and if it doesn't make you laugh, it'll at least make you smile just to be in that sinister, bizarre world again.
The act of building bridges is simple, with straightforward (if fiddly) controls and a decent amount of time spent on teaching you the basics. Once your construction is complete and the vehicle is in motion, physics will kick in, meaning you'll need to build efficiently and cleverly to ensure it doesn't all come crashing down. Unlike the original Bridge Constructor, there are no budget constraints to adhere to, so you needn't worry about splashing the cash to ensure the test goes to plan. Equally, you won't have to worry about various different materials, with only two infinite resources to get to grips with.
This may seem like a step backwards, but things quickly become complicated in brand new ways. In addition to laying roads and supporting them with girders and suspension cables, all the Portal paraphernalia you remember returns here to make things more interesting. Obviously, you'll need to send vehicles through portals, but here they're slightly different; correlating pairs will match in colour, which allows for a number of portals in one level. Buttons, companion cubes, sentry turrets, energy balls, and more are all gradually introduced, and by the mid-way point, the game becomes a real head-scratcher.
However, no test chamber is insurmountable, and often the solution is less complex than you think. There are some noticeable difficulty spikes, but once you solve a level, it's satisfying seeing the test vehicle sail across your bridges and into the exit.
The game's visuals are simple, but effective, and as we've said, the Portal aesthetic is spot on. However, performance issues do crop up during the busier levels. With multiple portals, turrets, lasers, and vehicles all causing mayhem – not to mention your rickety constructions – it can send the frame rate spiraling. We also encountered one or two instances of vehicles getting snagged on road segments when they shouldn't have. Fortunately, these issues are infrequent enough that you'll shrug them off.
Bridge Constructor Portal successfully combines Portal with a bridge building physics puzzler. There's a clear love for Valve's series on display, with great presentation that takes you back to Aperture Science from a different perspective. While not as funny as either of the main games, the levels themselves incorporate Portal's elements in clever ways. The controls can be fiddly, and the trial and error nature of the game isn't for everyone, but this remains an addictive, fun title that fans of both Portal and physics-based challenges will appreciate.