There’s nothing like a good bridge building simulator to awaken the civil engineer inside of me. It’s one of the few genres that allows me to be creative, giving the freedom to eschew the more obvious solution and allowing my mind to come up with something truly innovative. Polybridge, from the developers at Dry Cactus, takes a lighthearted approach to a sometimes sterile genre, tasking the player with building crossings for a variety of different vehicles from a limited selection of construction tools.
The game kicks off with a handy tutorial, detailing the various building parts, from standard wood beams and iron girders, to the more exotic suspension cables and hydraulic pistons. Each mission has its own budget and set of tools that you must use so, while there is a degree of freedom to be had, you won’t be building that multistory crossing with hydraulic lifts over a ten foot gap!
Initially, you’ll be tasked with building crossings for mopeds and family cars – simple stuff, like transporting vehicles from point “A” to point “B”. From there on, things become a little trickier. You’ll need to account for the weight of multiple vehicles at the same time, meaning you better have enough support beams in place to take the extra load – lest your bridge flop into the ocean like a soggy pancake. Ingeniously, Dry Cactus has included coloured indicators to show which parts of your bridge are most stressed by the load, making it easier to go back to the drawing board for a quick redesign.
Levels play out a bit like a puzzle, and it’s up to you as Chief Engineer to decide which structure suits the level best. The game may gently prod you in its own direction, but you are free to go off on your own. For example, some levels may require you to build bridges that will allow boats to pass through – naturally your mind will instantly go to the hydraulic pistons, and while they offer a functional solution, you can just as easily bypass them by building a bridge that is a little higher up than the boats below. This wonderful sense of freedom is Polybridge‘s best asset, and I suspect the developer’s know this.
Also included in the game is a robust set of tools for controlling every aspect of your own levels and, better yet, you can share them with the community, so you are unlikely to run out of challenges any time soon.
Although the few crashes and glitches I encountered during my time with game did dampen the fun a little, especially when I was working on a new design, they weren’t enough to deter me. Thanks to its cute polygonal scenery, sedate music and open gameplay Polybridge is sure to build a bridge to your heart.