The Bridge review: Escher pressure

The rock might be the primary hazard, but it’s often a means to progress: you might need it to depress a switch in order to deactivate a swirling vortex that has swallowed the exit key, for example. Then there are nodes that flip the stage when entered, and veils which allow you to manipulate the level while ignoring the laws of gravity. 

It says something for the game’s consistent internal logic that such a fusion of strange ideas and unusual locations is immediately understandable, though it takes a little while – perhaps too long – for the challenge to escalate, even as the various elements are combined. On the rare occasions the answer to your current predicament isn’t quickly apparent, it’s possible to stumble across the solution simply by squeezing the triggers to rotate the stage. It’s only towards the end of the third of four main chapters that you’ll come across any real head-scratchers. 

Which isn’t to say that you won’t enjoy the journey: the simple experimentation involved in simultaneously moving the protagonist and manipulating these imaginative environments is pleasurable in its own right. That the stages are so skilfully drawn and the woodwind-led melodies of the soundtrack are so soothing means it’s an easy game to get blissfully lost inside for an afternoon. Yet for many, the laborious final puzzle will put a halt to all that. It’s a devious difficulty spike that combines a clear and unheralded shift in approach with an uncommonly fussy bit of manoeuvring. Suddenly, the lethargic tilt speed and shuffling gait of our hero, which previously fit with the game’s contemplative mood, becomes a problem. 

Persevere, however, and you’re rewarded with a series of mirrored stages that don’t merely reflect the existing environments, but completely change the puzzles therein, adding new elements or reworking them entirely. These can be a little finicky at times, particularly given the increased focus on building momentum, but reaching the exit door brings a feeling of relief and satisfaction that’s all too rare during the regular worlds. Like its protagonist’s scrambled mindset, The Bridge can feel fragmented and incomplete, but this is a fascinating and absorbing headspace in which to spend a few hours.

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