The Xbox Live Marketplace has been home to some amazing games; Bastion, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, the more recent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and so many more. It's a fantastic platform to showcase imaginative, original titles. The Bridge sort of fulfills this criteria as it has some truly original features, but it also relies heavily on another game. Originally released on the PC earlier this year, it found it's way to the Xbox Live Marketplace last month, but should you check it out? Read our full review to find out...
The first thing you'll notice about The Bridge is that it's in black and white. As it's based on the sketches of MC Escher, it has this awesome look, making the whole game feel like someone has literally just drawn it out and brought it to life. It does look a lot like Braid, and the similarities don't stop at the visuals. There are a couple more mechanics that Braid also relied heavily on; the ability to rewind time, the character's house as the level hub, the story is told through floating text, and collectible puzzle pieces. To be fair to The Bridge, they aren't used in the same way. There's no denying that the home level-hub is copied from Braid, it looks almost the same, and it's the same with the story-telling, which is done in an almost identical way. The other features aren't so copycat; the rewind function is simply used to either resurrect yourself or to retry anything that you're stuck on, it isn't used in any other way like it is in Braid. The puzzle pieces are also just hidden collectibles, unlike Braid which requires you to collect them to finish levels. So whilst it isn't directly using the core mechanics of Braid, it does use a lot of them. It seems like they used it for inspiration a couple of times too many.
The gameplay is quite hard to get to grips with when you first start. It doesn't consist of flat levels that you must traverse to progress, it's not quite so simple. Not only are the levels based on the sketches of MC Escher, already giving you an idea to the complexity of the puzzles, but you control gravity. You can rotate the level on a 2D plane, 360 degrees. Levels require you to flip the gravity completely to get to out of reach keys and doors, which is quite difficult as the world rotates quite slowly. So not only do you have to flip the world, but you have to find a safe place for your character where he won't slip off the world and fall for eternity.
Other puzzles include "enemies" known as menaces. These are just huge boulders with evil faces that kill you at the slightest touch. As well as obstacles, they are often used as weights to press buttons, which can unlock doors and turn on blackholes. There are other mechanics too, such as inversions and veils. Inversion puzzles usually include a number of menaces, either black or white, and when you use inversion gates, the gravity will favour whatever objects match your colour. You can also only be killed by same colour enemies, and pick up same colour keys. It adds a great extra layer of difficulty to the puzzles. The veils are even more complex, as they allow you to change the direction of gravity for veiled objects, whilst giving you separate control of the main gravity of the level. It's hard to explain and difficult to get your head around, but you can learn how to use it in time, to some degree. You can blast through the main puzzles very quickly, but then you get to the mirrored world. Here you will find much harder versions of the original levels, and it's where you'll have the most fun with the game. They're all a lot harder and much more challenging, and they sort of justify how quickly you can blast through the first batch of levels.
The Bridge is a top quality, high difficulty puzzle game, which is both gravity and mind-bending. Once you get used to the various mechanics, the puzzles become a lot of fun and are very satisfying to complete. The story isn't very interesting, but it doesn't matter, you're here for the puzzles. The art style is hand-drawn and pretty awesome, the puzzles are well designed and the difficulty curve is steep, especially once you hit the mirrored levels, so even seasoned puzzle fans should have fun with The Bridge.
by Louis Gardner