Developer Dry Cactus has created a fresh puzzler that feels rewarding even when you fail.
Before this weekend, I would have never guessed that a game centered around building and crossing bridges could keep me engaged for hours on end. And then I experienced Poly Bridge. The game combines light physics based simulation elements with almost limitless creative freedom to craft a clever puzzler that will make you smile from your successes and laugh at your own failures.
The premise behind Poly Bridge is simple: build a bridge that will suit each scenario’s needs without exceeding resources. Like any good puzzler, the game starts with basic objectives such as helping a moped cross the waterway via beam bridge. As you progress, however, you’ll find yourself building complex systems to support multi-vehicle crossings and even build hydraulic lifts to allow boats to pass underneath your bridge. While the objectives are somewhat repetitive, things such as varying vehicle weights or the length of the gap between landmasses will ultimately alter the way you build and support your bridge. Later on in the missions, limits will be imposed on various building resources which will push the player to design creative solutions to problems. Over budget on bridge supplies? No worries, the family hatchback will just have to launch the off a ramp instead!
Things aren’t always that easy, though. You’ll watch your moped driver plummet into the water or gaze in horror as a steam ship rips your beautiful (and structurally efficient) bridge to shreds before your eyes. You will fail in Poly Bridge and you will do so often. Fear not, though, because Dry Cactus has made sure failing the puzzle doesn’t feel defeating. Instead, after each loss, you can analyze what went wrong with your bridge and you can try again until you build the perfect structure for the scenario.
What starts as a basic building game quickly evolves into an increasingly challenging puzzler that will push you to create smart, efficient and satisfying bridges. Rarely do games that play so simply offer such rewarding results.
Graphics, Audio & Performance
As you can see, Poly Bridge‘s design is exquisite. The low-poly environments mixed with quirky vehicle and character models put the game in a league of its own compared to other indies on the market. I immediately fell in love with the world Dry Cactus made, and I know you will too.
The audio in Poly Bridge is absolutely fabulous. The sound effect are like something straight out of a Pixar movie while the (fairly brief) soundtrack is nothing short of a melodic masterpiece. Building bridges while listening to the game’s score put me in a therapeutic state that no other game has ever done before.
While the game is technically in Steam Early Access, Dry Cactus has made a point of saying they only released it after it was in the final stages of polishing. This means Poly Bridge aims to feel like a normal release and less like a buggy mess that many have come to expect from Early Access games. And for the most part, the Poly achieves that goal. I had the game crash on me a handful of times over a several hour period, but I never lost any progress. Occasionally, there are visual bugs when you’re in the building phase, but again, I never found anything that lessened the gameplay experience.
With roughly 60 challenges from Dry Cactus and a multiplayer component that allows for infinite levels made by other players, you’ll have dozens of hours of well crafted content at your finger tips. Creative freedom, expansive challenges and a euphonic soundtrack make for one of the most engaging indie games I’ve played in a very long time.
In an age of botched Early Access releases, Poly Bridge is an instant classic and the best indie game you’ll play all summer.
Poly Bridge is available now on PC, Mac and Linux.
Disclaimer: Poly Bridge was reviewed using a press copy courtesy of Dry Cactus and Evolve PR. All gifs used in this review were acquired through Poly Bridge’s user submitted gallery.