Back in my days of being a young sproglet in school, I fondly remember a simplistic game called Coconut Run. It was one of those free online games, the sort that you’d play instead of doing maths or IT lessons at school, and I’d managed to find it through a website that hadn’t been blocked by the schools firewall. The game was pretty simple, you build a cart to hold 15 coconuts, and you then try to carry them all to the other end of the map.
Ultimately it was basic, but it was the level of creativity you could add to it that made it fantastically enjoyable. You didn’t just have to create a cart, you could build whatever you wanted as long as the coconuts can make it to the end. Sure, you only had 5 parts to choose from, but you could use as many of those 5 parts as you wanted, and change the sizes to suit your needs. Want to transport them via a T-Rex, no problem. Or fire them out of a cannon to the end of the map, you can. Provided you had the patience to get it working as intended that is, and this ultra-simplistic creative model is to be found in Dry Cactus’ bridge building simulator, Poly Bridge.
Currently still in Early Access on Steam, Poly Bridge is a wonderfully creative physics based puzzle game where you, unsurprisingly, build bridges, as well as listen to a frankly brilliant banjo soundtrack throughout your building. Clearly influence has been taken from the Bridge Builder series, which started back in 2000, with graphics and gameplay being somewhat similar, only a little bit fresher. Your job is to get a certain vehicle, or variety of vehicles, across to the other side of a river by using a number of materials and staying under budget. The latter is the hard part, as more complexity becomes needed in your bridges as the levels go on.
The budget isn’t your only source of problems either. Certain levels have certain obstacles involved, such as a ships using the river and destroying any and all bridges in their wake. And of course there’s the small matter of building a bridge that doesn’t simply flop and fall apart like it’s made from rice paper. This all makes the normal mode fairly hard, as your bridges need to get more complicated and your budgets become stricter. You can go slightly over budget, but there’s less smug pride to be had with that.
But it’s not the standard campaign mode that makes Poly Bridge so enjoyable. Sandbox mode takes that crown. In sandbox mode you take complete control, creating the environment, as well as building whatever bridge, or anything else for that matter, that springs to mind. There’s no budget to worry about, allowing you to build anything, including a giant boot to kick the car to the other side of the river. Perhaps not the safest method, but certainly an effective one.
All this bridge building fun is currently available on Steam for £8.99, and it uses the Steam Workshop too, so if you’ve completed the campaign and want even more challenges, the Steam user-base will be happy to oblige. It’s a must play for anyone interested in puzzle games.
Reviewed on PC