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GAME REVIEW: The Bridge

The Bridge is a side-scroller puzzle game with level design inspired by the amazing artist M.C. Escher, released by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild in 2013.

The game starts with the player character snoozing hard under an apple tree. You can wake him up by using one of the central controls of the game–shifting gravity. Pressing left or right rotates gravity in that direction–tipping the ground back and forth shakes loose an apple from the tree to bonk the player character on the head and wake him up. He goes for a stroll to his house, shifting gravity to make it up some of the steeper slopes. In the house he finds a series of rooms in which he has to use his gravity-shifting powers and other puzzle elements to make it to the exist door.

Sometimes the trick of the puzzle is just to reach the door. Other times, you need to find the key to the door. You also need to avoid “the menace” which is a ball with a face on it which kills you on contact. And, as if that’s not enough, you have to make sure that you don’t fall off the map, as well as keeping any keys or the menace on the map as well. More puzzle elements are added as the game goes on.

This game is super cool. Just the visuals of the level designs are worth playing, and there are lots of cool little visual effects–the whole game is monochrome, and at the beginning of every level the player character is sketched onto the page with the circle-and-line sketch guides you see with cartoons. If he dies, and you rewind to try to avoid the death, there’s a smudgy ghost as of a partial erasure. The puzzle levels are overall very well-balanced so that you learn the important elements gradually and the game is never too easy nor too hard. I had to look up the solution to one level (oddly enough in the middle of the game) but the rest of them I managed well enough.

One piece of advice for you–if you make it through the main levels, the game will seem to start over in a “mirrored” world. I wasn’t sure if this was literally just a visual reversal and was wondering if the game was basically over. But, no, these are new levels with new puzzles–so keep on playing. The mirrored world reuses the maps of the regular world, but puts completely new puzzles in them.

Visuals
A cool look, all monochrome, looks like it’s hand-sketched which the game adds to by making pencil scritch-scritch sounds as the character is drawn on the screen. I could believe the levels were drawn by M.C. Escher with their weird details and gravity defying layouts. Very cool.

Audio
I didn’t play with audio most of the time, but has a fitting melancholy soundtrack.

Challenge
Some of the levels are very challenging–I even had to look up a walkthrough for one level (oddly, that one was halfway through the game, not at the end). The early levels were easy but useful as tutorials to understand the setup. Most of he rest of the levels were very well-balanced, providing just the right amount of challenge–new layouts of familiar components in a way that seems impossible at first but as you try different actions you can figure it out.

Story
There… was some narration between levels, and images to lead into each level that seemed to imply there was some kind of story going on. I didn’t really understand any of it. But that’s okay, it didn’t really seem to have a bearing on anything.

Session Time
Progress saved at completion of each level. Once you figure out each level, the solution usually isn’t too drawn out, so pretty easy to pick up and set down quickly.

Playability
Easy to learn how to play. W and D to move (no jumping). Left and right to tilt gravity. Up to use things like doors. Shift to roll back time to undo actions. The veil level component (you’ll know it when you see it) is the hardest to really understand–I’d have difficulty even explaining it even though I could beat all but one level.

Replayability
Probably not after the initial playthrough.

Originality
I’ve never seen another puzzle game with Escher-inspired design.

Playtime
I beat it in about 6 hours of playtime (including some significant time trying to beat the level I eventually got a walkthrough for.

Overall

The list price on Steam is $10. Reasonable price. Awesome level design, well-balanced puzzles.

About David Steffen (64 Articles)
David Steffen is a writer and editor and software engineer and a voracious consumer of podcast fiction. The first piece of fiction he's edited is now available, "Taste the Whip" by Andy Dudak on Diabolical Plots(http://www.diabolicalplots.com/dp-fiction-1-taste-the-whip-by-andy-dudak/). David is also the co-founder and administrator of the The Submission Grinder(http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/), a tool for writers.

2 Comments on GAME REVIEW: The Bridge

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // October 31, 2014 at 10:13 am //

    You had me at Escher 🙂

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