I was never going to be an engineer - it was something I came to terms with as soon as my eyes beheld complex algebraic formulae at school and my brain went “nope”. Similarly, my grasp of physics is limited to the fact that gravity exists and that if you put too many rockets on something in Kerbal Space Program it will explode. Yet, for all my inability to understand how things work in the universe, I can still find pleasure in crafting tiny bridges for virtual cars to drive over.
Poly Bridge is one of those games that takes on a well-worn concept and polishes it to a mirror shine. The player’s aim is to construct a bridge sturdy enough to get your menagerie of motor vehicles across a river or ravine safely. The game provides you with a number of connection points for you to stretch out rivets, arches and supports, as well a selection of materials with which to build your bridge including wood, beams, wires and girders. In the game’s main modes you’ll also be restricted by a budget, stopping the player from just building some form of mega-bridge to solve all problems.
Vehicles will drive forwards, blissfully ignorant of the tensile strength of your construction, trying to reach a flag positioned on the other side of what is a wonderfully colourful and endearing alpine landscape. Each vehicle type has different weight distributions and speeds, meaning you have to plan your bridge as much around the traffic as the landscape. It’s not just cars you have to watch out for though - as in some of the 100+ levels a cavalcade of tug boats will come puttering down the river your bridge crosses, so intent on getting to whatever important regatta they have to be at that they’ll plough right through your masterpiece.
Despite the atmospheric and rather chilled guitar-based soundtrack that will woft throughout the game’s levels, things can become quickly very frantic, especially when graduating to stages where there are two directions of traffic coming from opposite ends of the valley. Poly Bridge will be quite happy to throw some curveballs in your direction, too, in the form of levels requiring you to bounce monster trucks off of balloons or build ramps to help scooters make leaps that make the Springfield Gorge look like a small creek. The (at times) random difficulty jumps make the game a bit juddery and could see some players give up barely a quarter of the way in, but perseverance reaps the reward of creating some extremely complex and satisfying designs later in the game.
You’re not flying in blind, either. The game gives the player a drafting-style overlay that allows them to plan their bridge without placing so much as a support. It shows the directions of traffic, what type they’ll be and where stress points on your bridge might appear. Of course sometimes all of this meticulous planning goes flying out the window and some poor family are sent plunging to their watery doom in a station wagon-sized coffin but that’s all part of the fun, really, isn’t it? The game features deceptively powerful physics but it can sometimes be very tricky to work out exactly where you’ve gone wrong, leading to multiple failed attempts and rising levels of frustration.
Balloon-jumping breaks from the norm help to refresh the player’s creativity, though - often times it’s easy to become stuck in the mode of building the same type of bridge, bogging down the sense of enjoyment somewhat. That innate player creativity is something that the game thrives on: when Poly Bridge first released into Early Access last year sites like Reddit exploded with people creating ingenious bridge designs of fantastic proportions. With a full-fledged sandbox mode now available players have the opportunity to let their wildest (bridge-based) dreams come true.
Poly Bridge is a title that will thrill those who enjoy the genre - it has very few flaws and a lot of playability. When you reach the end of those 100+ levels, though, it’s a wonder if anything will really keep you going. For it’s price point (£8.99 at the time of writing) the game is incredibly well-fleshed out and is a testament to the Early Access system. Cute, creative and challenging, Poly Bridge is a thoroughly enjoyable title.
Poly Bridge (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Poly Bridge is a title that will thrill those who enjoy the genre - it has very few flaws and a lot of playability. Cute, creative and challenging, it's a thoroughly enjoyable title.