Everyone has, at some point in their life, needed to craft and design things. Maybe you let that drive bring you into Legos, or clay, or maybe you just became a taxidermist with flair. I’m not judging, I just hope the animals are dead when they’re brought to you. Video games have opened up brand new avenues for people to create things, and the Nintendo Switch has become a stomping ground for all things architectural. More and more families with children have the Switch, and we’re only a week away from that number increasing tenfold when Christmas morning dawns. And, on that day, kids everywhere will fight for control to see who’s turn it is to play Poly Bridge.
Poly Bridge is a fairly simple, mostly plotless game with one objective: make a bridge strong and reliable enough for one or more vehicles to cross to the other side. Simple enough, but nothing is ever as simple as writing “simple enough.” Of course, there are various caveats, such as the weight of the vehicles, the irregular gorge that needs to be crossed, or the sudden appearance of boats who’ll crash into your bridge and destroy everything. Therefore, the burgeoning designer needs to carefully think about materials, joins and overall creation in order to make the perfect (or near perfect) terrain for getting to the other side.
Poly Bridge gained some notoriety about a year or so ago when everyone and their crazy cousin found this game on Steam and started making the most absurd ways to solve the puzzle of “get to the other side.” The results were pretty amusing, and let me assure veterans of the game that you’ll still be able to do all those things and more with relative ease on the Switch. Of course, new players will want to run through the normal “story mode” levels to get the best idea of the how and why of Poly Bridge. By making sure you understand all the different types of bridges and how the vehicles interact with their environments, you set yourself up for the best level of success. Of course, success is entirely in the perspective of players who either want the most safe and satisfying crossings or the more insane and dangerous.
In terms of atmosphere, Poly Bridge is an incredibly relaxing and enjoyable way to pass the time. The soundtrack creates an ambient, unhurried lifestyle, and there’s no penalty for trial and error. In terms of the mission levels, there are star ratings based on your performance in terms of budget, but this is one of those games that rewards you for taking time to explore your options. Is this more of a suspension bridge or a classic stress bridge? Do you need to consider multiple levels to your bridge? Do you think that, by building in an arc, you can avoid the ship, avoid too much incline and still save some cash? Poly Bridge is all about experimentation, and those who enjoy thinking outside the box will have the most amount of fun.
For better or worse, Dry Cactus had to make the ultimate decision and put Poly Bridge as touchscreen only when playing in handheld mode only game. Personally, I like the option to play in handheld mode, but can’t stand the fact that that’s the ONLY way to really finesse the options. In docked mode, you’re limited to a single JoyCon in terms of movement, which tends to make things a bit tedious. Needing to essentially lumber across the screen, pick one element, move to where you want to apply it, lather, rinse, repeat. A recent statement from Dry Cactus has already revealed their intent to revisit controls at a later date, as well as patch a couple of breaking bugs that exist, so I’m doing my best not to factor that into my review. In general, players should be aware and veterans of the series may feel it a bit wonky, though new players won’t know what they’re missing.
At the end of the day, Poly Bridge does so much right that it really comes down to preference in the overall gaming landscape, not in this title in particular. For example, if you love to make stuff and really have a blast with engineering, then you’re going to adore this game top to bottom. If you need action and excitement, you’re going to be wholly disappointed. And yes, there are a few known bugs, but they’ve been acknowledged and are being dealt with as quickly as possible. In short, if you’re absolutely itching to jump into making fantastic contraptions in terms of bridge safety, then you can have a great time right from day 0. However, for the real perfectionist, you may need to hold off just a bit longer until this indie team can patch things up and make sure all players can safely cross.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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