Had I not decided to devote my life to video games, architectural engineering might have been my career choice. This is one of the reasons why Poly Bridge, developed and published by Dry Cactus, immediately caught my attention upon release. This title sets out to deliver a light but enjoyable bridge-building simulation and almost completely succeeds in doing so. The game doesn’t feature a deep story-driven campaign but provides you with scenarios that challenge your creativity and that allow you to create anything you want, from slick wooden bridges to architectural monstrosities made out of rope, steel beams, asphalt, and cables.
Building in Poly Bridge is easy. The first few levels, which act as a tutorial and as an introduction to the game, show you how to place your parts on the screen. These, snapping together and subjected to the magical forces of basic physics, will make up your bridge. Several materials and techniques can be used while building, allowing for the creation of almost limitless variations and increasing this game’s lifespan as you can tackle the same challenges in different ways.
Your main objective is always to create the required infrastructure for several vehicles (cars, bikes, trucks but also ships or helicopters) to move from point A to point B. These will stress your bridge by adding weight to it or by plowing right through it if you forgot to leave enough space for them to move, forcing you to design your creation with that in mind.
It is here that one of Poly Bridge‘s minor flaws comes to the fore. While running the simulation, visual indicators will be used to highlight those parts that are subjected to the most stress and are thus more likely to break. This is not shown while constructing the bridge though and data about it is only accessible by starting the simulation, making successive changes a bit harder to plan and apply and at times rendering the whole process both tedious and frustrating.
Luckily, the simulation can be slowed down, giving you the time to analyze your errors and realize which parts of your design require improvements. Thanks to the various tools available for you to use while designing your bridges, these changes can be quickly applied by selecting either a single part or entire sections of the bridge and dragging them into the shape you have in mind and I personally never felt like i needed to take a break and blow off some steam before returning to the game.
A Minimalistic but Solid Environment
What Poly Bridge does best is providing you with the right environment for the job. The game features a minimalistic, but solid art-style that perfectly delivers all of the information you need on screen that never gets in the way. Cute and colorful, Poly Bridge‘s graphics have the power to always make you feel at peace, even in the most stressful of situations. The soundtrack, which predominantly features acoustic guitars and percussions, also plays a huge role in the game, albeit being slightly repetitive at times. These tracks are sold as a separate DLC or included in the Deluxe version of the game.
The creative tools at your disposal in Poly Bridge also greatly improve the overall experience. Not only you’re able to place your parts in the world, the editor also allows you to use special functions to achieve your engineering dreams. After the first few couple of games, building becomes an harmonious process that takes places almost automatically. There’s a nice feeling of progression, as your standard wooden bridge soon evolves into more complex layouts such as ramps, multi-layer structures and drawbridges thanks to the use of different materials and hydraulics.
Poly Bridge manages to keep it relatively fresh by offering a good variety of challenges. Your goal will always be the same, but your vehicles might have to go through different obstacles or terrains in order to achieve it. Obviously, these will require different bridges in order to be cleared.
An Accessible Game For The Building Enthusiast
Poly Bridge clearly stands out from the other titles within its sub-genre. Building simulators surely aren’t a novelty in the gaming industry and neither are those that focus on bridges, but this title manages to be accessible and enjoyable at the same time. This is a title that is easy to learn but hard to master and that, thanks to its level variety and features, bridges the gap between simulation and casual gaming.
Perhaps Poly Bridge could have been better suited for more portable devices, such as tablets, phones, or portable consoles, as it is the kind of game I can see myself playing while waiting for the train to arrive or for a few friends to reach our usual meeting spots, a thing that I cannot do on my laptop.
Nevertheless, this title definitely deserves our collective attention. It is a must-own for any bridge-building fanatic, who will surely enjoy the ability to share their screenshots and creations through the in-game community portal, and a nice new experience for anyone who’s looking for a fun way to kill some time between meetings on a busy summer day.