Poly Bridge Preview
Have you ever wanted to be an architect? Or, perhaps, a structural engineer? The two occupations are actually quite similar one to another, in that they both have to deal with the same amount of mind-boggling bullshit that gets dealt every once in a while by Mother Nature. Some game developers have tried to turn that hell into something fun, as we humans usually do – this is how bridge building games came to be. And even though I am technically an architect by trade, I’ve never had much interest in these titles. They tend to get bogged down in unnecessary clutter and extraneous information that gets in the way, and that’s why I was quite sceptical towards Poly Bridge at first. Having spent some quality time with this piece of software, I can now happily say that I was wrong and that it’s the very first bridge-builder I find amusing to play around with.
Poly Bridge’s most alluring feature is its simplistic visual style, I’d argue. It’s a flat, uncomplicated render that makes the game seem so much easier and straightforward than it actually is. It serves its purpose, then, in creating a warm and inviting platform with which players can be drawn in. A game such as this doesn’t need high-poly models or 4K textures. No, what it needs is a clear visual identity and something that would entice even those who aren’t interested in this kind of games to give it a whirl or two. Therefore, I can only sing praise to the way Poly Bridge handles its graphics. It’s simple, yet efficient and to-the-point, clearly pointing out what’s important and what’s not, when it comes to actual bridge building. The audio design is similarly minimalistic, with the underlining tones being catchy yet never overly intrusive. It all rounds up to a sublime experience that caters perfectly to the gameplay function of the game; a feat that’s actually quite rare nowadays.
As far as content goes, Poly Bride is packed. The game comes with over fifty levels already in, some of which require a significant amount of forethought applied if you want to complete them. One thing I’m especially appreciate of is the game’s sandboxy approach to puzzle solving (because that’s what you’re doing) – even though there is monetary “limit” you should adhere to for the best score, you can complete levels by breaking through the budget too. What this means, in essence, is that you can play just the way you want to play, with whatever contraptions you come up with. It’s a freeform system that encourages exploration and progression, without much handholding. Speaking of which, I found the tutorial to be somewhat unhelpful as far as the more complicated bridge-building techniques are concerned. While everything may be explained, the focus remains on wooden supports and not much time is given to exemplifying the more complex systems. These will have to be figured out on your own, from what I gather, and this may very well take some time to accomplish.
It’s all quite simple, however, and completing a level or two on your own while using these mechanics will net you enough experience for you to keep using said systems in your future projects. All of Poly Bridge’s resources are readily available at the click of a mouse button, and with the controls already shrunken down as much as they possibly could be, even the most absent of players can quickly come to grips with the game’s basics. Besides, it’s all perfectly grounded in reality anyway. The game’s physics engine is very well-made and reacts as one would expect it to react, and should you need a precise depiction of why exactly was your glorious bridge falling apart, there’s an option to show the locations of the construction that have to endure the largest amount of stress. All of the tools you might need are at your disposal at any given time, and that’s what matters the most in a game such as this.
When all is said and done, there aren’t many resources to manage in Poly Bridge. You’ve got your couple of materials and tools, sometimes a special limitation or two and whatnot. How you combine these elements, however, is left up to your own devices. The amount of possible solutions to any given problem (level) is mind-boggling to say the least, and that’s before taking into account the game’s Steam Workshop integration and the ever-so-popular sandbox mode. Not only can you create new levels and let your imagination go wild in the wonderfully simple level editor, but you can also share your creations with hundreds of other players right off the bat! What this means is that, when all is said and done, Poly Bridge offers potentially unlimited replayability.
Poly Bridge is possibly the very best bridge-building sim I’ve ever seen or played, and is the first one that’s got me properly hooked to its basic playing mechanics. It’s got polished gameplay features, perfect visuals and physics and proper Steam integration, as well as the option to create and share content with minimal effort. If you’re into this type of game, do yourself a favour and get a copy. If you’re swaying whether to invest in one such title or not, do yourself a favour and get a copy. If you’ve been unenthralled by bridge-builders so far, do yourself a favour and take a look at it at the very least.
The game’s Early Access tag is supposedly there mainly to further streamline the sandbox mode and turn it into even more of a marvel than it already is, so don’t be put off by it. For all intents and purposes, Poly Bridge feels like a complete game.