Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is the latest iteration in videogames for both of the franchises involved. Available for every platform from PC to mobile and from current to next gen consoles, we’re looking at the PS4 version. If you’re waiting for the PS5 one – that’s coming very soon.
Clockstone’s Bridge Constructor series has been around for a while now, and has even graced the Vita for what we believe was publisher Headup’s only title for Sony’s handheld. Bridge Constructor has evolved since then though, and the best example of that was last year’s release of Bridge Constructor Portal – a tie-in with Valve’s classic 3D portal-jumping puzzlers. It’s a mix that worked out surprisingly with, with clever puzzles that used Portal’s unique mechanics to good effect. More importantly, it also laid the groundwork for Clockstone’s new Walking Dead-inspired adaptation, which is far more of a physics-based puzzle game than a construction-based game – the origins of the series.
It’s also bizarre to see how much Walking Dead we’ve been getting in a short time. The Telltale games were bundled for a Definitive Edition just over a year ago, and since then we’ve gotten two VR games, versions of which were spread out over the course of 2020 as well. There’s just no escaping AMC’s franchise it seems, although this is probably the most unexpected take on the license so far. It was announced with perhaps the best trailer at Gamescom this summer, so we were eager to get started.
The early levels showcase how the Bridge Constructor formula was adapted for The Walking Dead, and the idea is pretty novel. In each level, the central idea it to let the human survivors escape while making sure that the walkers meet their demise. That could mean building a bridge that’s just strong enough to support the humans while they escape, but will collapse when a horde of undead steps out on it.
The solution’s often more complex than that though, and you’re not always building bridges in the game’s 40 levels. Sometimes the key is to weigh down a shipping container that’s balancing on an ledge, and time it so that is lands exactly on top of the undead that are chasing your survivors. At other times, you can use special characters and abilities to make life easier – like when you throw one of Eugene’s dolls to make walkers start marching towards it – to their own impending doom. And while many survivors are relatively helpless, special characters like Daryl can also carve their own way through by taking out the undead as they move.
Solving puzzles is almost always a case of trial and error, as you get the timing just right when you’re on the right track or just try out something radically different. This works great when your plan comes together, to great satisfaction, but it can also lead to frustration as solutions can feel random. I’ve also had two cases where the solution felt more like a happy accident than something I actually planned for, which isn’t quite as satisfying either.
There’s a story that connects everything, but it’s presented through comic book style art and written text, giving it a somewhat generic feel – especially because the narrative and writing aren’t that great by themselves. It’s nice to see any kind of story attempt in a game that’s firmly about its puzzles though, so I certainly didn’t mind and appreciated having a bit more Walking Dead to flavor the experience – besides the setting of making sure survivors stay alive and the undead get crushed, the narrative and gameplay also feature familiar faces from the show.
Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead isn’t an easy game to get into if you’re not familiar the previous Bridge Constructor games and this particular style of physics-based gameplay in general. There’s plenty of opportunity for frustration here and the narrative isn’t engaging enough to overcome that. If you’re a Walking Dead fan who’s comfortable with this puzzle style, however, this is a solid and creative new spin on the franchise that you’ll certainly enjoy. It’s not as easy to love as Bridge Constructor Portal was, but it’s another solid crossover.