We’d like to think that your progress through Polybridge is similar to that of a real architect. At first your designs are beautiful, if a little bit structurally unsound. They get the job done safely, but little pieces wobble and joint are stressed more than you’d like. As you progress to grander projects, the structural integrity is paramount, with the aesthetics taking a heavy hit as you learn about spreading weight, counterweights and tension. Then as you move towards the end of your career you become lazy, making sure you get the job done, but caring little if the whole thing falls into the river immediately afterwards. Be careful if you’re on a bridge made by an old engineer is what we’re saying.
Polybridge is a simple puzzle game. You use different materials in a 2d plane to create a bridge over water, then run the simulation and see if it works as little cars trundle over or boats pass under. The earlier levels have generous budgets and infinite pieces of each material so you can really go wild and make complex but strong structures. As you move on you have ever increasing demands. Maybe there’s not enough road to cross the whole river, maybe two different vehicles have to go to two different places, perhaps a series of boats need to be able to travel underneath.
The choice of pieces never gets unwieldy. You have road, wood, steel, cables, hydraulics, and suspension cables. Using these you can create some surprisingly elaborate designs, especially when you make good use of hydraulics to create moving parts.
Each puzzle has two different aspects. The first is to create something that works, and that’s good enough. The second is to do it under budget, which is much harder. We often find ourselves building our ideal bridge, then simply cutting away with anything we can probably do without. It’s probably how a real budget office works, but leads to some very precarious sections on our bridges where pieces of road are left to flap about in the wind, and us praying that they flap in the right direction when the school bus arrives.
Everything is presented in a charming voxel like 3d rendered art style, even though the viewpoint and gameplay is strictly 2D. One of the cleverest features in the game is that after you complete each level you can create an animated gif of how it performed. Unfortunately there’s limited controls on how long the clip can be so you often miss the first part, and the only place you can upload them currently is Twitter, but it’s great fun to be able to share you successes and catastrophes.
Overall Polybridge is a great little puzzle game that provides more than enough challenge for anyone. Thankfully the sight of tiny little cars plunging to their dooms in the river below is enough to ease the frustration of the most difficult ones.