Have you ever completed an enormous task? Anything that requires pain-staking hours of detailed work, because if you don’t get it right one mistake could send it all crashing down? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I’ve been able to get through planning large events or finishing large projects, looked back and said, “I don’t know how I did that.” That’s basically the feeling you get when playing Bridge Constructor. Or at least, that’s the feeling I got, specifically with Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead, the latest in Bridge Constructor collaborations.
I want to frame this by saying I’m not a Walking Dead fan. Nothing against the show, I just couldn’t get into it myself, so I know nothing about it. When I saw Daryl for the first time, I recognized him as Sam Bridges (now there’s a collaboration – DS x BC). I was glad, however, to discover the Walking Dead IP exists primarily to show off zombies and give each level the same objective: get your party to the safe zone alive. It’s not the most exciting goal, but it’s enough to keep you going. Being part of the Walking Dead universe also means there’s an ominous atmosphere where people try to survive in a harsh new world that’s only a shadow of what it once was.
The premise is simple enough: build bridges to either lead the Walkers (zombies) away from your party and into a trap, or using them to get your party from one side of the level to the other. Vehicles, crashing objects, button pressing, and character commands all come into play alongside timing it all to make each puzzle complex and challenging. The physics in-game are good enough that detailed players will be rewarded for their efforts in creating these wooden and sometimes steel concoctions. Though the concept may be solid and the premise easy to grasp, the moment you hit play it all starts to fall apart. Unfortunately, these are the only positive things I have to say about Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead.
I have to start with the UI. In Bridge Constructor, your entire view of the action is from a 2-D plane as you connect wooden or steel struts and wire cables to design and create your own bridge. This means that for the entirety of actual gameplay, you are constantly looking at a menu screen from which you can select materials, where you would place them, and so on. So, when the UI is not clean, easy to use, and slow and intrusive instead of helpful, it puts a damper on the gameplay experience.
For whatever length of time it takes you to solve each puzzle in the game, you’d have to add another hour and half that will be dedicated to you fixing mistakes you didn’t see because your cursor was in the way. You’ll also spend a great deal of time swapping from different levels of sub-menus, and jumping between using the D-pad for some inputs and the joystick for others, which constantly made me confused as to what I should be using for specific menus and losing my place entirely on screen more than a few times. For whatever reason, I also had a constant issue where the game didn’t entirely center to fit my screen, and there are no settings to adjust it whatsoever. Speaking of settings, there is no option to adjust the setting when you hit pause in the middle of a level, forcing you to exit back to the main menu and adjust the settings from there. It’s this detail that actually hints at Bridge Constructor’s biggest problem, which is that it really shouldn’t even be on consoles.
There’s not enough depth to Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead for it to be a console release. This would work extremely well as a mobile game, or as a discount game on PC, where players are sitting far closer to their screen. But on consoles, it just doesn’t feel like there is a lot here to keep players interested, unless you are an absolute massive fan of physics-based puzzles. If that’s you though, I don’t know why you don’t just play a lot of them on PC or mobile.
There doesn’t even seem to be a lot here for fans of The Walking Dead. The art style doesn’t do the characters any justice, and the dialogue between them is mostly boring. Like I said, I’m not a huge Walking Dead fan, but apart from giving the game a sense of atmosphere and zombies, there really isn’t much there for fans. Cameos are cool, but it doesn’t ever come close to matching the intense and complex stories The Walking Dead is known for on the show and even in games like the original Telltale release. It really feels like they could have made a funnier and quirkier story involving bridges and zombies with their own characters, which I think could have even allowed for more creative level design.
The gameplay also doesn’t lend itself to a console experience. While I currently play most games sitting at a desk, my Xbox is in my living room for more comfortable couch gaming. Just to be able to see what I was doing, I had to constantly get up for a closer look because I couldn’t tell what my cursor was actually hovering over. It got to the point where I just set up a chair closer to the TV. It simply doesn’t work and provides annoyances that put a damper on your enjoyment of the game that most likely would not be there playing on PC or mobile. What’s worse is that on top of all the problems I had with the game, I also experienced some performance issues like stuttering and huge latencies between button presses and throughput on screen.
On the whole, Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead has some clever physics-based puzzles that, when mixed in with the character commands, are complex and fun to pull off. Getting to that point, though, is just an absolute pain, and I can’t in good faith recommend anyone buy this, at least on consoles.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.]