The Bridge (PC): Because Up is not always “Up”

The Bridge (PC, 2013)

Game: The Bridge
Developer: Ty Taylor, Mario Castañeda
Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysics Guild
Release Date: February 22, 2013

Think about this: when perspective is the puzzle itself, I must be talking about a 3D video game, right? Especially when gravity is involved: what is up can be down, what is down can be left, and what is left can be forward, and what is forward can be up. That sentence made as much sense as the world within The Bridge. The game consists of puzzles, and the only way to solve them is to take advantage of its wacky directions.

The Story

The Bridge was created by programmer Ty Taylor and artist Mario Castañeda for school: it is a requirement for Taylor’s Master of Computer Science degree, and it served as Castañeda’s Art minor project. The different puzzles incorporate mind-boggling physics concepts such as vortexes, inverted gravity, parallel dimensions and many others — all of which are headache-inducing, especially for us dummies. Don’t worry, this game was not developed to torture our minds (at least not on purpose). The puzzles themselves are not that hard; you just have to get used to the game’s shifting perspective.

You may or may not care about the storyline of The Bridge. I don’t think it’s even the focus of the game. I mean, the puzzles themselves are already a handful. While there definitely is a timeline of events, the actual story has the tendency to get lost behind the gameplay. Also, the story is not directly and explicitly laid out for us; we have to figure it out for ourselves. As Taylor explained in an interview:

“. . . part of the magic of the game is to take the very little amount of information that is given to you and figure out the meaning to the story. Consider it one more puzzle to solve.”

Just keep the bridge — that is, the idea or concept of it — at the back of your mind. It might make sense to you when you finish the game.

The Game

In The Bridge, you, my friend, have a superpower: you can control gravity. Just rotate the screen clockwise or counter-clockwise using the left and right arrows. And, just like a normal platformer game, you can move the man forward and back — just hit A and D. Warning: this will require a bit of time to master (around 10-15 minutes for me). When you get the hang of it, you will realize that the controls are part of the puzzle, and that how you solve them depends on the direction of gravity within the game. I doubt that you’d need a physics degree to solve the puzzles, though. Yes, some of the puzzles are hard, but there’s an “undo” feature in the game. Just hit the spacebar to backtrack to the point where you know you’ve made a wrong move. This is obviously very helpful, as you don’t need to restart the puzzle over and over again. I’ve never loved the spacebar more than I did in this game because, well, let’s just say there had been a lot of trial and error on my part.

The Art

As you can see, everything in The Bridge is in black and white. The “drawn” aspect of the game’s visuals is deliberate and important; it’s made that way as if to convey that The Bridge has never left the concept stage. It expresses an impossibility; this world cannot be real outside the mind, and outside the game. The icon used by The Bridge is the Penrose triangle itself — it doesn’t get any more “impossible” than that.

Though intensely monochromatic (I mean, come on: black, white, and gray), The Bridge is never rigid nor severe. It is whimsical, imaginative, and irregular. The Bridge makes it clear that something dark and grave has happened to the man, yet I find it hard to take him seriously. I feel detached from him, as if he’s really not the star of the game. His misfortunes are comical to me. It is the negotiation between the unreal perspective and the unstable, yet controllable, gravity that I consider as the core factor of the game. The fact that everything in the game is in black and white makes the man blend in with his surroundings.

The Moment of Truth: Should you play this game?

Well, you know, out of hundreds of platformer games out there, The Bridge really is unique. I doubt that you will come across with more than 5 similar games in your lifetime. After all, a change in perspective is always welcome, am I right? So, did I enjoy this game? Absolutely. Do I want you to play it? Of course! Do I secretly wish that my sketches look like the art in The Bridge? First of all, that’s not a secret, and second of all: hell, yeah!

Images taken from The Bridge Presskit. Trailer video from youtube.com/user/HyperCube. Full interview with Ty Taylor can be found here.

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