Bridge Constructor Playground delivers on everything a casual puzzle game should—fun, challenging, and dynamic.
ClockStone’s Bridge Constructor Playground is “built” on a simple premise: you’re an architect and must construct bridges of varying strength, length, materials, etc. Each level sets you up with a simple-looking span with various support options; it’s up to you to decide how to put which materials where. There are only four materials to use—wood, steel, concrete, and cable—which allows for a kind of misleading simplicity. Because at first glance it’s simple, but in reality there’s a lot of corner-cutting you’ll have to do to allow your bridge to survive the mandatory crossing of either two cars or two moving vans without spending a hundred thousand dollars: each material has its own cost, strength, max segment length, and flexibility. Exceeding any of these parameters means a failing bridge and swimming vehicles.
This is where the game gets a nice twist: there’s more than one way to complete the level, and I mean more than just the numerous possible successful bridges: each level has five different objectives. Completing each objective gets you a medal. You unlock a new level by getting a single medal, and unlock the next set of bridges (separated into islands) by unlocking a set number of medals. The medals don’t have to all be unlocked at once, with the same bridge design for each, and each objective is similar from one scenario to another:
There’s a requirement for the bridge to allow two light cars to cross and another for two heavy trucks to pass. The more specialized medals are earned by having two trucks cross, while also either: costing less than a certain amount of money; costing less than a certain amount of money and staying under a certain percentage of strain; or using only certain material(s). To unlock the next island, you don’t need all five medals from every level, and that’s my favorite part: you choose your difficulty by requiring yourself to obtain a certain amount, or you can just get the minimum number and advance to the next island without challenging yourself. After playing some brutal puzzlers (cough, Road Not Taken, cough), this dynamic challenge system feels refreshing and keeps it fun: if you get stuck on one scenario, you can move on to another and come back later, or not at all. It’s your choice.
I made myself go for at least four each level. The result was a number of very odd bridges…sometimes I just built the most expensive thing I could (for a Steam achievement, actually….) and sometimes I had to construct flimsy, scary things from only wood, or hop the vehicles to the end.
It’s always going to work very well. But then you turn around to the other requirements, especially the two which factor in bridge cost, and you have to build something efficient. Knowing physics (and triangles) is helpful but in no way going to give you an unfair advantage.
There is one problem with this game, and it’s that the entire game is based on building a horizontal bridge; no vertical play, no variety in what you need to do. As a result, I never played more than forty minutes consecutively, but I did continue to come back and play many sessions. So don’t expect to pull all-nighters on this game.
The games graphics are cute and useful: there is no clutter to the UI (a problem which plagues most simulation-style games) or unnecessary animations distracting from the gameplay. The strain on each material is shown by color gradation, from green—good—to red—moments from breaking—which is simple but very useful and effective. Sound design is unobtrusive and pleasant, although I did find myself switching off music after a while because there is not a huge variety of music here, and longer bouts of play could be aurally a drag.