The Bridge Review
If you're familiar with the surreal architecture in some of M.C. Escher's work, then you know that it's not always easy to tell which way is up in his lithographs. The Bridge takes this effect and turns it into a puzzle game in which you have control over which way is up and must use this power to guide a gentleman to each level's exit. But the gentleman is not alone in these levels of spirals, twisting passages, and optical illusions. You might have to guide keys to the locked exit door or avoid deadly rolling boulders, and you'll have to do it all by using the bumper triggers to spin the entire level clockwise or counterclockwise on its axis. Gravity and momentum play a big role in the puzzles' solutions, as do shifts in perspective that occur when you view the level at a different angle.
The game includes 48 puzzles, the first few of which are designed to ease you into the concepts of the gameplay. The difficulty begins to ramp up quickly from there, but not all of that challenge is of the cerebral variety. Many puzzles require precise control and timing as you launch your poor gentleman, keys, and other things across gaps or over obstacles. So precise in fact that the game has included a time-rewind feature out of necessity, because otherwise a single mistimed turn of the puzzle could easily make all of your prior work for naught.
This all makes the audience for the game limited because puzzle gamers who enjoy the mental challenge of solving the puzzles will be frustrated at the arcade like timing and reflexes required. Conversely, those who have the necessary reflexes may grow frustrated at the inherent difficulty of the puzzles lying underneath. I don't want to discourage anyone with an interest in the game from trying it out, but be aware that the dual nature of the puzzles has the potential to frustrate.
The game's original puzzle style is backed by a unique graphical style. Black and white sketched levels recall the Escher lithographs that inspired the game, with pencil shading adding depth to the twisting puzzles. The soundtrack could use more variety, though, the short endless loop can be tedious while you're trying to crack a particularly tough puzzle.
It's always good to see a puzzle game with a unique style and an original concept, and the game certainly earns props for turning to M.C. Escher for inspiration. I found the game to be enjoyable for the most part, but I did find the need to rewind the game and replay the same move several times when trying to satisfy the game's need for precision timing occasionally frustrating. If you have the patience for such occasional frustrations and enjoy challenging puzzles, The Bridge is certainly worth a look.
Final Rating: 80%. Crossing anything in The Bridge is never as simple as it first appears.