Some of the best fun in gaming can be the eureka moment of joy after a long and challenging puzzle. Within games like The Legend Of Zelda or Uncharted, these challenges are often a great change of pace from slashing and shooting bad guys. But in dedicated puzzle games, like Poly Bridge 2, taking the initiative to design puzzle mechanics and creating an interesting game mechanic is more important.
Poly Bridge 2 is a simulation puzzle game developed by Dry Cactus. The game tasks players with building a bridge to help a vehicle pass over a body of water, under flying planes, around boats, and more. What starts as a simple task usually ends in a messy mess, and that’s by design. Dry Cactus has a fun game on its hands, even if it’s not perfect.
The original Poly Bridge launched in 2016 to much success. Although perhaps not the best simulation game of the decade, Poly Bridge’s simple and fun design attracted audiences. The game prides itself on realistic physics and a building functionality that matches real life, with an added twist of cooking and fun off the wall video game fun. The sequel upped the ante. And doing it well enough.
Poly Bridge 2 uses several tools to get the job done. Roads are used to drive. Timber is placed to strengthen the bridge. While steel is a more expensive and stronger version of said fortification. Ropes and cable wires are used to allow for suspension-style bridges, further increasing the options for creativity. While hydraulics help create draw bridges to make way for incoming boats and others.
Each level usually has a set budget, and completing a level under budget is not always easy. While it’s tempting to spend tons of money on expensive steel and wiring, cheaper less effective wood can still get the job done with some smart planning. Levels can still be completed on a budget, but it’s fun trying to beat them as cheaply as possible. There is also a leaderboard for each level that shows players’ top scores, including whether or not the levels were completed with the bridge destroyed or not (since it’s possible to beat a level for super cheap while also destroying the bridge) .
Poly Bridge 2’s biggest flaw is the lack of help it gives its players. While the tools are unique and cool, they can be confusing. There are a few tutorials, but even those aren’t all that helpful. When building a simple bridge, the “triangle” method of placing structural pieces in a triangle formation above or below the road helps hold the bridge together. This tutorial helps explain one of the basic mechanics, but the hydraulics tutorial is less helpful. The tutorial tells the player to click some buttons, but doesn’t explain why. And when it comes to things like ropes and springs, there are no tutorials. There is a tip section, but that area is again only slightly detailed. The original Poly Bridge lacked useful information, so the community stepped in and filled the interwebs with countless tutorial videos and how-tos. Dry Cactus had plenty of time to create a better and more useful “help” section in Poly Bridge 2, but that opportunity seems to have been missed.
When the first “jump” levels are introduced, or when the first suspension bridge levels are presented, the player is often on their own figuring out how to use the tools they have to build the bridge. It’s a lot of trial and error and can be frustrating. Additionally, these levels are not easy by any means; the very first ramp level that asks players to jump a car into a huge cannon is massive, and not simple. So instead of forcing the player into the game mechanic of springs, the player is forced to learn how to use the tool.
Fortunately, any level can be completely skipped and returned to later, but that’s not an ideal way to progress in a game. Additionally, when a player leaves a level and returns to it, all progress is saved, meaning the bridge design the player created will still be there. This is a good touch because someone might want to just take a break from a difficult level and come back to it at another point.
At the beginning of each level, there is a quick rundown that explains when each item will move in the simulation. Each item is marked with a letter of the alphabet. For example, “A” could be the ambulance, “B” could be the hydraulics for the draw bridge, “C” could be the boat, “D” could be the hydraulics for the draw bridge, and “E” can be the motorcycle. In this order, the player must build a bridge strong enough for the ambulance to cross first, then create a hydraulic system that can lift for the boat to pass under the bridge, and finally safe enough to put it back for the motorcycle to cross at the end. In this situation, the game works wonderfully. And when all the pieces come together the game is an absolute blast. It’s really fun to create a bridge that works like a giant puzzle for every piece that needs it.
Some of the coolest levels are the ones that combine every tool in the game. The most complex levels, however, can get quite involved. Building bridges across long bodies of water that climb under planes and have to open back to make room for large cruise ships can be more of a challenge. The result can also be a hideous bridge, which makes for a ridiculous design. One hopes to make a bridge that not only works but looks cool, and sometimes it seems impossible to do so based on what Dry Cactus demands on so many levels. It’s also frustrating when bridges collapse left and right without really understanding why. The bigger the level the harder it becomes to understand why it doesn’t go together. It could easily be a guessing game of slamming wooden slabs together until the bridge doesn’t collapse.
Poly Bridge 2 also has a sandbox mode where players can create entire levels from scratch, with all the gadgets and trinkets of regular levels. This includes all vehicles, a budget, water anchors, and more. After completion, the level can then be posted online for others to enjoy. It will be really interesting to see the amazing levels that fans create, from simple creative challenges to crazy creations.
The visuals and music in Poly Bridge 2 are uncomplicated. Low “poly” graphics is in the name, but it definitely has a level of beauty to it. The music can become repetitive quickly, which works against the experience as players can spend a lot of time figuring out a level.
Poly Bridge 2 has all the tools to be really good. The building mechanics are solid and the satisfying feeling of seeing a bridge come together, with all the moving parts working perfectly, is certainly impressive. In some of the puzzles, real fun can be found, and sandbox mode tools allow players to create endless opportunities. However, the game is missing some of the polish that a sequel might have. Instead of the eureka moment of putting the pieces together correctly, the final product is often frustrating and confusing. However, Poly Bridge 2 is at its best when everything clicks just right, like when a gorgeous bridge is built that can be raised high enough for a submarine to float underneath like a flying buggy .
Poly Bridge 2 is now out on PC. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review.