If a game has a unique visual style to it, then chances are it will grab my attention. Games like the papery And Yet It Moves or creepy looking Limbo or the stunning Metroidvania-like Apotheon have all reeled me in with a look to them that stand out from the crowd. Of course, a great game doesn’t just come down to its visuals and fortunately, these three examples all had the gameplay to back them up too. So, is Nintendo Switch puzzler The Bridge all looks and no substance or is there something more to this M.C. Escher inspired adventure?
In The Bridge, you take on the role of an older, bearded gentleman who lacks the usual assortment of moves you might expect from the protagonist of a video game. Instead, you’re restricted to simply being able to move left and right. That’s right no jumping. Kicking things off with an apple to the head, the game then introduces you to its main gameplay mechanic – rotating the world itself. While the analogue allows you to control the main character himself it’s the shoulder buttons that you’ll end up focusing more on, these rotating the world around you. Relying on just these two inputs, you’ll then need to manipulate the environment in a way that allows you to traverse obstacles and make it to the end.
The game does include motion controls, substituting for the shoulder buttons if you so wish to use them. While you’d think that physically rotating to do so in-game would be a novel idea, it quickly loses its appeal especially given how much you will need to revolve the environment. Between this and simply using buttons, I soon found myself returning to the latter.
As you’d expect from any puzzle game, things start off fairly simple, a solution never more than a few minutes away. At first, you’ll just need to worry about your character and how the environmental shifts will affect him but before long you’ll also need to consider other variables. For example, keys required to unlock a door or even giant boulders with evil looking grins on them that can crush you if you’re not careful enough.
Tougher puzzles reward experimentation, where the solution may not be immediately obvious just by looking at it but instead reveals its resolution after testing out ideas. Sure, sometimes it can feel very trial and error but when you do finally nail the answer it’s a satisfying feeling, one heightened thanks to the bizarre layout of the stages themselves.
Usually with games of this genre I will find myself banging my head against a wall as things get more complex – with The Bridge, however, I found these moments few and far between, a puzzle never frustrating in its difficulty. The game manages to be taxing on your brain but not unfairly so to the point where you want to give up. It has to be said that The Bridge can feel a little on the slow side. Rotating and moving of the main character both lack urgency about them which did prove annoying when repeating puzzles. Given the overall tone of the game though, it’s an irritation easier to ignore.
The Bridge is relatively short with only 24 puzzles to complete in all on your first playthrough. It’s a disappointingly low number and the game could have benefited from even one or two more chapters. When you do finish these two dozen puzzles you’ll then unlock tougher versions as well as an alternate ending. While I would have preferred all new brain-teasers these at least give you some incentive to return once more.
As previously mentioned The Bridge sports a fantastically unique visual style that manages to evoke a rather moody atmosphere. Everything has an almost hand-drawn look to it; the main character even being actually sketched in at the start of each stage. Whether playing on the big screen or in handheld the game still shines. If only the same could be said about the music, that while adds to the overall sense of eeriness, repeats far too often.
The Bridge is a short but sweet experience. While it may have been the visuals that initially drew me in, the satisfying puzzles that literally revolve around… well, revolving your world were what kept me playing. A little light on content, but a game that’s worth checking out especially for puzzle fans.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild