Poly Bridge is bridge building simulator with a lot of charm. Your goal is to get vehicles from one side of an area to another by using the materials provided to you. The game gets you up to speed quickly by providing a tutorial that explains the different types of bridges you can build and how they are useful to you. While it has a smooth transitional difficulty curve, it would have been more useful to provide an explanation of certain elements just as you are getting to them. Often you’ll find yourself going back to the tutorial to remind yourself how to construct a hydraulic bridge or how ropes work because your experimentation is in vain.
It isn’t just building simple structures to watch cars go by since everything feels like a cog in a larger puzzle. Each vehicle has a different body build and weight, meaning longer cars may not be able to drive up steep slopes or the integrity of your structure might need to be reinforced with girders. You may have to consider things such as accounting for large ships passing underneath or contending with a sheer lack of materials, forcing you to get creative with your designs. For what looks like a mere time waster actually has a surprising amount of depth, the type that will have you scratching your head while beaming all the while.
While each puzzle could conceivably be solved rather quickly, you’ll more often than not find yourself tinkering with your blueprints to try and maximize your building materials to undercut the budget the game wants you to meet in order to get a better score. A lot of trial and error is involved, so be wary of that going in, however those who aren’t deterred by constant failure will find it supremely satisfying when they overcome a challenge and watch everything flow like it should.
This being Switch, you can play in both tabletop and handheld mode, although the ease of use with the touch controls makes it preferable on a small screen. The point-and-drag design is intuitive and there’s a wealth of options such as undoing your last move or copy-and-pasting your blueprints. It’s grid-based for precision, so you can use simple geometry to get your bridge just right. On the big screen, Poly Bridge requires you use a Joy-Con as a pointer, but it often needs to be recalibrated and even when it is on, it still feels a little imprecise.
The game has over a hundred stages on offer, spanning many different areas and design philosophies. As its name would indicate, there’s a neat and simple polygonal aesthetic that’s punctuated by a mellow, folkish soundtrack that fits the pace of the game. The game offers a wonderful difficulty curve, often building upon itself in complexity but never surprising the player with something too over the top. If you aren’t able to surmount a stage, you can merely skip to the next one with no penalty, a nice touch for those looking see everything the game has on offer without being penalized for being unable to solve a certain puzzle. To top it off there’s a sandbox mode that gives you free reign on everything, letting you build whatever you want within the confines of the game without the need to futz with completing levels.
Poly Bridge is a great game because it can both be played in small chunks in between longer gaming sessions or for a quick pick-up-and-play experience but can also be the type of experience you can sink a lot of time and effort into and not get bored with. With an easy to use control scheme (so long as you stick to the touch screen), an appealing presentation and open-ended solutions, Poly Bridge is a game worth coming back to again and again.