Every so often something comes along that grabs your attention just because it stands out from the rest of the pack. It can also have the added bonus/attraction of being a distraction from the rest of the 'run of the mill' mix of shooters, sandbox adventures etc etc.
Limbo set a new standard of platform puzzle game and raised the bar on every darned platform it came out on. Since then it's mono chrome style of presentation has been utilized by other titles and imitated with variations on other games (Deadlight comes to mind). But Limbo showed that you do not need graphic violence to tell a story, you don't need blazing guns, spraying gore, just atmosphere. Heck, you don't need a name for your hero either or a clear idea as to what the hell is going on story wise.
So now along comes The Bridge, and again we have a black and white world, but unlike Limbo, our hero is not a shadowy form. He is, however nameless, and again we are not entirely sure as to what is going on and why our hero has to go through the puzzles he has to endure on the journey ahead.
It would appear on the surface, that our anonymous main character was enjoying the sun under the shade of a tree and has fallen asleep. Indeed to start the game, you have to wake him up by shaking the tree he is under until an apple falls on his head. No, you don't shake the tree, you literally shake the world by using the left and right buttons or triggers until the apple falls.
From there, you guide him over some terrain, again having to tilt the world here and there for him to cross some gaps and overcome some minor obstacles. This will get you used to what is to come, because his and your problems, don't start until you are at home.
You will see him in a corridor with but one door. Walk up too it, and press A, and this will lead you into the first puzzle, where the reward for completing it, is the key for the next room. The first puzzle is simple as are the first few on the early levels but as the hero makes his way through (what we assume) is his own home, they get progressively more difficult and challenging.
Rolling balls that can crush you, gaps that can cause the key you want to get at to fall out of the area completely if you tilt the world too far, vortexes that trap you etc etc. However if it does go all a bit Pete Tong, then in Forza fashion you can rewind back to a point where all is fine or just reset the current puzzle.
It is a game designed to exercise your mind and may not appeal to the casual gamer out there but for those of you (like me) who like to have brain cells engaged as well or instead of trigger fingers will find this a joy, all be it a trying one!
This may not be the world's most detailed review or indeed the longest but it is quite a challenge in it's own right to sum this title up. Sure we can do the usual break down of graphics and physics etc etc and I will be doing that soon, but I want to stress to you one thing...it's different, very, very different and for this reviewer is a breath of fresh air in a market that (if we are honest) is a tad saturated with third person shooters, assassin creed style stealth games and survival horror.
So then graphically it's not stunning but it IS atmospheric in it's own way, not in a Limbo eery landscape style, but in some sort of abstract artists idea of what a game should look like and gets someone to transfer ideas from thoughts into a reality.
I cannot remember the name of the artist but if anyone who remembers the strange mirror like staircases we saw in the movie Labyrinth, then that is the style we are reminded of here in the game.
It's all about (quite literally) balance, momentum and an understanding of how the game physics effect the world our hero is in.
The music is suitably moody and would make a nice soundtrack for a table top role playing game session where the players are in a 'not quite in this world' setting. It's a very nice sound track and it alters to suit the mood of the situation you are facing.
Physics, well it's all about the physics. Without the physics well, you would not have a game! They work well indeed, and things move in response to control input smoothly with no stutter, stagger or anything that mars your experience.
The graphics have an unusual sketch book style too them. You'll see what I mean from the screen shots here, but the earlier comment about the artist I made will really come into relevance as you play through this.
This is no fast paced, action title. This is a real brain teaser and it does it's job well. It has that 'Damn! One more go!' to it, and besides the achievements to aim for, the sense of satisfaction as you overcome that segment, or puzzle that has been bothering you is quite close to a punch the air in victory feel to it....no...heck, I HAVE done that a couple of times!
It's atmospheric and in some ways you can't help feel sorry for our hapless and anonymous hero, and you do NOT need to know what's going on.
Accept this for what it is, a unique and above all else, a damned clever, well designed and intelligent bit of puzzle gaming. I do fear that this may well be overlooked or ignored by some sections of the gaming community but that's their loss, it really is.
So be bold and brave and give this game a go. Be warned though, once it gets it's hooks into you, it's not easy to break free. Oh and another thing, why is it called the Bridge?
My theory is it's the 'bridge' between the waking world and a dream world perhaps. (after all he IS asleep at the start) apart from that, your guess is as good as mine.
Personally i don't think it matters. This is a cracking little title. More please.