Not many great works of art would really inspire a game. I can’t say the Mona Lisa would inspire a first person shooter or fantasy role playing game, but how about the works of M. C. Escher? Impossible physics, ups are downs; a person could easily get lost in his world. The Bridge by Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda take M. C. Escher’s worlds and literally turn them upside down.
The Bridge's story is a bit of a fringe element here. It's told through small passages between chapters. To be quite honest, I still don't get it. It talks about mathematics so my assumption would be that it has something to do with M. C. Escher again, as he created art using mathematics. The art style of the game evokes Escher, and even the unnamed character you guide looks a bit like M. C. Escher.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the game.
Controls and Gameplay
Controls for The Bridge are minimal. You have two movement keys (left and right), two gravity manipulation keys (spin world clockwise and counter-clockwise), one interaction key (open doors or activate switches), and one time rewind key. You can use the keyboard or a gamepad.
The Bridge starts out as a seemingly simple 2D puzzle game. Move your character to the exit door by moving him, the world or both. As levels progress the puzzles get more complicated, add more hazards, and introduce new elements; like an infinite warp zone or a pallet swap from gray to white.
The simplicity of the controls and gameplay meant that while it was easy to get into, but hard to step away from. Once I was drawn in, I found myself determined to figure out how to solve some of the levels. The time rewind became my best friend on a few of these levels, allowing me to back up a few seconds or all the way back to start if need be.
Graphics and Sound
As I mentioned previously the art style in The Bridge is very M. C. Escher-esque. It has a hand drawn look to it, reinforced by the way your character is brought into each level. He is literally sketched into the start of each level. An impressive the amount of detail is put into creating the look. The way your character and some the of the hazards move it has that slight flicker effect, like each frame was hand drawn.
The sound is minimal, featuring a handful of sound effects and calm music. This works well for the game. It's not distracting and lets you concentrate on solving the puzzle in almost a Zen-like fashion.
For a game that started out as a project requirement for Ty Taylor's Masters of Science degree in Computer Science (and later as part of Mario Castañeda's Art minor Capstone project) The Bridge has a solid foundation for gamers to enjoy. It has moved beyond a student's project into a multi-award winning fully fledged game release. I say it deservedly earned each of those awards.
The puzzles are crafted and paced well enough to not only draw you in, but keep you futzing with them until you solve them. I found myself spending a few hours playing when I first sat down with it. Even though I am stuck deep in it on a puzzle I can't wait to finish it. It has 48 puzzles in the main game; once you finish those it unlocks 24 "mirrored" puzzles and an alternate ending. I certainly hope Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda are already working on a sequel, I may not be done with this one but I know I want more already.
With a beautiful hand-drawn art style and well crafted puzzles I give The Bridge a 5 out of 5.
For more information see the official The Bridge web site.