To the uninitiated, a game entirely focused on building bridges might sound boring. Let me assure you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Though Poly Bridge 2, from indie developer Dry Cactus, doesn’t do anything radically different compared to the original, all of the smaller elements feel just a bit better for an overall noticeably more polished game. Level design, physics, and community tools all get their own incremental improvements that help create something greater than the sum of its parts. If you’re looking for a relaxing fun time, Poly Bridge 2 has you covered.
At its most simplified, Poly Bridge 2 asks you to provide a way to get vehicles from one side of the screen to the other. More than just a car, it may be a motorcycle, school bus, dump truck, or something else. Each vehicle performs just differently enough to actually impact how I need to think. Length, weight, and max speed are always in consideration when choosing how to build.
Basic support structures are built from wood and steel, but it’s completely up to me to use anything at my disposal however I see fit, and I appreciate the creative freedom granted throughout. New tools include reinforced roads, for when you need just a little more strength, and springs, that I usually deploy for making ramps.
Beyond just a simple flat design, sometimes vehicles will need to pick up stars along the route. This forces me to build curves in bridges that drastically alter the way weight is distributed among supports. This is a very effective way to keep things interesting, as just building a flat bridge over and over would get boring. Every variation in terrain, materials, and available natural support makes each level unique and worth playing.
Other times vehicles will have to make a return trip to a different height, requiring creative solutions with hydraulics. The is both the most difficult aspect to grasp and the most rewarding. Pulling off tricky builds is the real draw of Poly Bridge 2. It never stops being satisfying to see my creation work without any breaks.
I’m no student of physics, but I can tell you Poly Bridge 2 feels better when it comes to deciding if your bridges survive or not. Replacing wooden supports with steel will make them sturdier, but choosing springs will introduce intentional flexibility in the bridge. As with real bridges, it’s perfectly OK to bend, but breaks are catastrophic.
Even though it does feel better, the game could do a more effective job explaining how individual pieces like ropes or hydraulics have an overall impact. Few people want to sit through an intro level physics course to play a game, and I understand it’s hard to boil something so involved down to a couple screens of text. Ultimately more information needs to be available to the player. Just a couple five minute videos included in the menus would go a long way towards sending players off on their own with a greater understanding of how to accomplish these engineering feats.
As it stands, expect to do a lot of trial and error and some browsing on YouTube to figure things out. The one main gripe I have is the underwhelming tutorial system. Outside of about 40 screens of “tips,” consisting of usually a single screenshot and a few lines of text, you’re on your own. While it’s easy to get started with basic bridges, it only takes a handful of levels before you’re being asked to construct drawbridges with hydraulics. Down the road your bridges will have to dodge airplanes and send cars on loop-the-loop paths.
Upon completing a level, you have a chance to view shared replays of other players’ constructions. This is a lot of fun because rarely will I have one of the more efficient looking bridges. I always enjoyed watching other ways to get these vehicles from point A to point B. Usually at least one replay will teach me something I can use to improve my own scores.
Another new feature for Poly Bridge 2 is Twitch integration. Viewers can contribute suggestions on your builds, which sounds like a great way to keep everybody engaged. I have not been able to give this a try yet due to the review and streaming embargo, but look forward to what could come out of community builds.
With four worlds of 16 levels a piece, and a challenge version of each of those, Poly Bridge 2 offers plenty of puzzle solving to keep you entertained. The challenge worlds are a significant step up in difficulty. I’ve only solved a few of them so far, but the mode has its hooks in me. These levels start with the same design as the basic worlds, but take away some of your tools. You’ll lose access to natural supports like rocks, have a greatly slashed budget, be limited to using a number of roads that won’t actually span the gap… things like that. But if the built-in content isn’t enough, Steam Workshop allows players to make their own levels and worlds for others to play. Yes, it’s kind of like Mario Maker for bridge building and I’m here for it.
Challenging puzzles keep me coming back for more, and I think you will too. Sharing replays and fighting for scoreboard positioning gives you a reason to go back to your earlier builds after you learn new tricks. Expect to look down at your clock and wonder where the time went.
Poly Bridge 2 was reviewed on PC using a review copy provided by Dry Cactus through Evolve PR
- Publisher: Dry Cactus
- Developer: Dry Cactus
- Reviewed on: PC (Steam)
- Release Date: May 28, 2020