Headup Games and Clockstone Software have been on one heck of journey with their Bridge Constructor series. Their first outing, the inaugural Bridge Constructor, really lacked in thrills and frills, while Bridge Constructor Stunts injected a bit of fun to liven things up ever so slightly. The most recent instalment however, Bridge Constructor Portal, captured the imagination with immensely clever puzzles and ensured it did justice to the Portal name. Now though, it’s time to see if the aforementioned duo can work their magic with another major license, AMC’s The Walking Dead. Surely, Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead will continue the streak of success because the post-apocalyptic universe goes hand in hand with architectural activities, right?
While that is a facetious question, the art of constructing unorthodox contraptions and routes to safety is actually a crucial aspect of surviving the apocalypse. It’s just a shame the puzzles in Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead are so frustrating that you’ll end up practically begging to be eaten alive by a walker at times. There are a few really well-integrated ideas though, which may actually prevent this offering from being written off.
Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead immediately hits you with its own original take on the iconic theme of the TV show, featuring a bit of a synthwave vibe that’s pretty cool. It’s worth curtailing the potential excitement a tad though, because the accompanying narrative to complement the problem solving isn’t going to blow you away. While it serves a purpose of explaining the reason you’re going to build structures, there’s no real hook.
Sure, it incorporates familiar faces like Daryl, Eugene and Michonne, alongside a handful of less interesting survivors such as Miles and Naomi, but you won’t be all that fussed about the happenings. That’s mainly due to the nature of almost every bit of storytelling coming in text-based dialogue between characters. To really captivate the audience, the writing has to be far more intriguing and needs to make you care for the characters, which it doesn’t quite manage. The exception to that is Eugene however, whose lines have been written so impeccably you will no doubt read them in his voice within your mind.
As for the predicaments at hand, well, the core Bridge Constructor principles remain, with the idea throughout being to design various structures from scratch to reach a specific point in a level. The difference here is that you’re trying to navigate a rather bleak apocalyptic world, filled with dangers from walkers, other desperate survivors, and deadly obstacles – and it blends together surprisingly well. Deciding what structures to build comes after figuring out what threats there are, meaning there’s often a need to create a safe passage and some crafty traps to thin the horde to progress.
In each area, there will be specific zones to build within and a very limited amount of nodes to build upon. The tools available for construction are the trusty trio of wood, steel and cable, with steel offering the most sturdiness and heaviest. Weight is crucially important in these physics-based puzzles, requiring you to build something strong enough to support the assets safely, but not too overbearing that the structure itself cannot be supported. Through the handy in-game guide, you’ll learn the power of the triangle – the strongest of all shapes – and other tips regarding construction in general. That part has been done before though, so it’s fortunate that Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead brings in the heroes to add an extra dimension.
You see, the survivors involved in a level may need to be given commands at certain points while simulating your contraptions. The simplest example is a directional input to climb ladders or to venture towards, and the pressing of a switch. What’s great though is the inclusion of Eugene’s walker-attracting dolls, Daryl’s arrows, and one of the new character’s penchant for grenades. These can help cause absolute carnage and, when a plan comes together, there’s a sadistic feeling of joy as the ragdoll bodies are flung all over the place. The ‘heroes’ can also handle themselves if necessary as they are able to kill walkers in certain situations – clearing out the stragglers you miss.
Among the 40 levels, split into five chapters, you’ll have to guide vehicles across a chasm, lead a herd of walkers to their death, set traps to clear routes, and just generally use cunning wit. One of the craftiest levels involves baiting walkers to topple over a large sign to use as a walkway, which requires a whole load of architectural design to actually reach. It’s clear that Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is a clever mash-up of two very different worlds, you can’t doubt that really, but just because the elements mix together well, it doesn’t mean everything is brilliant. In fact, it’s bloody frustrating.
Even experienced builders familiar with the series will struggle at the sheer complexity involved in some levels. There could be a need for multiple structures and well-aimed grenades or shots, which leads to too many variables in places. It’s worrying how long I was stumped with some of the earlier puzzles, let alone the tougher ones later that seem unfathomable. Trial and error is expected, with minor structural tweaks to find the solution, but in this instalment, getting the foundations is painstaking. Furthermore, the requirements to earn a badge of honour – usually by using very few resources – seem utterly impossible, which hampers replayability a bit.
What’s worse is the gritty, angular art style of everything going on and the grim locations really confound that gloomy mood it’ll put you in. Although, to be fair, that’s probably a sign the art department has done a decent job of creating a post-apocalyptic setting, so you can’t hold it against Clockstone.
Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S has taken on a huge, well-known franchise and managed to gel it with the architecture-based problems better than you’d imagine. Killing walkers by conjuring up weird contraptions is fun, while the new hero commands add a whole extra layer to the strategic affair. Unfortunately though, the difficulty is on another level as a result and that is definitely off-putting, to the point where you’ll not want to replay any of it to make improvements – that’s if you even get through the levels in the first place.
It’s hard to recommend Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead as a must-have purchase, but you should consider picking it up if you enjoyed the previous games and don’t mind tackling hellish problems.