Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead
Developer: ClockStone Studio
Publisher: Headup Games
Genre: Puzzle, Simulation, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on App Store, Google Play, PS4, Steam, Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 19/11/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Mixing It Up
What do you want out of zombie games? Do you prefer to battle hordes of relentless monsters in Left 4 Dead 2? How about desperately scrabbling for resources in ruined towns before rushing home by nightfall in 7 Days to Die?
Or maybe, just maybe, you’d prefer to build flimsy, experimental structures like in Bridge Constructor? Well, if you fit into that last category, then do I have the game for you.
Following on from the success of earlier Bridge Constructor games, including the recent Portal tie-in, this entry takes on the Walking Dead franchise. But can this kind of combination really work?
The Talking Dead
I’m not sure this game needed a story, but it has one anyway. Joining up with the survivors Miles and Kyra, Eugene introduces them to the fine art of construction. He shows them that even if society cannot be rebuilt, it’s apparently simple enough for a handful of people to build convoluted ramps across bottomless gorges.
This sort of game, I feel, is really about the actual building mechanics, so its simple story structure appeals to me. You get little conversations before and after each stage to set the scene, but they don’t linger for huge amounts of time.
Getting Your Point Across
Speaking of the gameplay, Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is, surprisingly enough, about building routes across 2D levels. The first stage introduces you to the most basic mechanic of the game – building a bridge sturdy enough to allow a group of zombies to cross a pit.
You select one construction point, and then drag a line across to another point to form a bridge. Then you can use another construction point to add support underneath, so the bridge doesn’t collapse. Following on from this base principle, the game allows you to create seemingly endless varieties of structures to achieve your goals.
As the game goes on, you’ll get ever more complicated tasks to carry out. One stage has you construct a ramp to send two vehicles flying over a wide gorge. If you want to kill all the zombies on that stage, though, you’ll have to work out a way of splitting up the two vehicles to cover both possible routes.
Each part of your construction will also eat up resources, so each stage awards a badge if you can stay below a certain threshold. Some of these targets seemed simple enough, but soon enough I ran into difficulties and had to rethink my entire strategy. That’s all part of the fun, though – finally hitting a target is always satisfying.
In terms of visuals, Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead opts for a clean, cartoony style. It seems perhaps a bit too minimalist here and there, but overall I feel that clarity is the most important thing in this kind of puzzle game.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Aside from simply constructing bridges, some stages also require you to set tasks for your band of survivors. For example, one character has a gun for shooting zombies and certain obstacles, while another can lob grenades across the stage.
The way this works is that there are specific waypoints around the stage, and you queue up actions at each of these. For example, you can set a character to move right at point A, and fire their gun and move right again once they reach point B.
In this way, you can have your characters activate features around each stage. During one stage, you can set a character to activate a trap, before fleeing the stage. Shooting a barricade with a character in one stage allows another character to throw a grenade though and take out some zombies.
The Walking Dud
While I liked experimenting with moving my characters around, I did find the controls on the Switch a little fiddly. Switching between waypoints and actions never quite felt right, and I’d often find myself cancelling actions or switching waypoint by mistake. You can probably lay the blame for that entirely at my feet, but I did feel that these controls needed a second quality sweep.
On a similar note, I had occasional issues where the game would just ignore me when I selected a construction point. This would sometimes happen multiple times in a row, and I could not work out what caused it. It became especially annoying when putting together some of the larger, more complicated structures.
Still, none of this was enough to spoil the overall experience, and it generally worked surprisingly well on the Switch.
Golden Game Bridge
Now, I’ve never played the original Bridge Constructor or any of its imitators, so my understanding of bridge construction is fairly limited. All the same, I had a lot of fun experimenting with each stage, and there was a decent mix of difficulty to encourage me on while providing a challenge.
While I’ve probably had enough of global pandemics for now, the dystopian setting still has appeal. With a multitude of stages and plenty of tricky side targets to hit, this game should keep you busy for quite a while.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead for the Nintendo Switch from the eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.