Largely inspired by the abstract paintings of M.C. Escher, The Bridge is an equally abstract puzzle games which merges gorgeous artwork with an almost Marble Madness-esque tilt mechanic to create an original, evocative experience. It asks you to set aside traditional logic, and adopt a new mindset in a world created on and by its own unique rules, which prove harder to adopt to than you might think.
The constant flux of gravity is at the center of every puzzle, requiring you to rotate the entire level in order to make your way to the exit. New mechanics such as items which exist in opposition of your own gravity, ones which can only be used by inverting yourself, and other various means to hinder your progress, are introduced as you progress but the basic foundation that up and down are perhaps one and the same holds the game together as things become more and more esoteric in design. It's a very thoughtful game, even in terms of the controls that although sluggish at first, become an integral part of the contemplative pacing once you've adjusted to the relatively slow speed at which everything moves.
Underneath the puzzles is a story largely open to interpretation. There are hints at what the protagonist, a nameless but brilliant mathematician was attempting, but right up to the end pieces are purposely left out so as to let your come to your own conclusions. While this works fantastically for the narrative, when it begins to bleed into the gameplay the experience becomes slightly too obtuse and the end goal less and less focused. This is most apparent in the later stages where the difficulty is highest, but the rules as to how everything works still obnoxiously unclear. Even having completed them, I couldn't explain to you how many of the mechanics work, which I feel for the style of game is a rather big problem. Solving a puzzle should be something I can figure out on my own, not a random series of events that somehow allows me to arrive at the same conclusion, and yet this is exactly what happened much of the time.
Despite the occasional frustration I had with the level designs, my predominant experience was one of continual wonder and curiosity as I made my way through the gorgeously drawn environments, accompanied by unexpectedly grand sound design and a reposed score that creates the feeling that something is amiss without the need for lengthy cutscneses or drawn out dialog.
It's an exceptionally artistic journey, but a short one. I completed the game in just under two and a half hours, and while this does unlock mirrored versions of every level (a minor switch that adds an unexpectedly hefty challenge), I personally didn't feel compelled to complete them. Regardless, if you were intrigued by the art design I wouldn't hesitate to pick this up. While it definitely seemed to lack...something....the end result is still a rewarding and highly intriguing game that kept me engaged and left many puzzles wonderfully open to ponder after I put it down. Though one can only wonder what he would think of such an unusual offspring of his artwork, I feel if Escher was alive today he'd be as impressed as I am with Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda's strange creation, which might ironically get him some new fans of his own.
Posted: December 6th, 2013