Following the release of Poly Bridge, the arrival of the ‘Bridge-building simulator’ sub-genre on the Switch, Bridge Constructor Portal brings the beloved Portal franchise to the platform under the construction guise. Not only does this title mark the debut of a Valve IP on the Switch, but it’s also among the first appearances on a Nintendo platform altogether. It’s a landmark occasion forfans of both Valveand Nintendo, and developer ClockStone have pulled off the tie-in very well.
Bridge Constructor Portal is nothing like the Portal games you’re used to from Valve, and yet it absolutely nails the feel of a Portal game in its presentation, with authentic visuals and even Ellen McLain reprising her role as GLaDOS.
Orientating its levels into Bridge-centric ‘Test Chambers’, the gameplay is as you would imagine: Building bridges. As Aperture Science’s designated engineer, it’s your job to ensure that workers get from point A to B without meeting an untimely demise, although to be honest I don’t think your employers are that bothered about that. Levels are self-explanatory to begin with, but across the 60 levels provided you’ll quickly remember the confused look you so frequently pulled when playing the original games.
ClockStonecleverly integrate and pace famous Portal obstacles across the trials, including Companion cubes, Turrets, propulsion gels and even deflecting energy balls (which can get extremely tricky), creating a experience that has you thinking differently from a regular Bridge Builder sim about the structures you’re building. Not only do you need to worry about your vehicle (or vehicles if you decide to brave a convoy) crossing the finish, but also the way your structures will take into consideration momentum and the placements of the Portals in each room. Great stuff.
Comparing the intricacies of gameplay to similar title Poly Bridge, a game I previously reviewed, there are some things that are done better here, and some things worse. Bridge Constructor Portal does a great job of explaining how its system works, and it doesn’t leave you scratching your head when your bridge comes crashing down as soon as you hit the play button. By scaling back the available resources (and restrictions on how many materials you can use in a given level), the focus is on the physics and momentum of the puzzles, and not on an internal struggle for stability with your own creations.
To contrast this, the touch-screen interface in Bridge Constructor Portal is inferior, as it required me to tap needlessly a lot more than I would have liked. Poly Bridge wins the handheld battle in this regard, although that being said, Bridge Constructor Portal controls perfectly well in both handheld and docked mode, and it shows that this sub-genre suits the platform well.
To conclude, it’s easy for me reviewing this game to get carried away with the Portal name being attached, but you have to take a step back and say: ‘is this game made genuinely better by its usage of Valve’s IP?’. The answer is yes. Both gameplay and presentation are heightened by this partnership, and it captures the same puzzle solving satisfaction experienced in the main first-person games.
Bridge Constructor: Portal
Bridge Constructor Portal is more than just a Valve themed reskin. Developer ClockStone have incorporated the fan favourite series with great elegance, using portals and their well-known physics based puzzle mechanics to genuinely spice up the Bridge building gameplay. Highly recommended to any fans of the Portal series.