Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead

When the only bridge out of town is busted, there’s nothing quite like a zombie apocalypse to spur on your new found interest in construction. Thankfully, there’s plenty of bridge-building knowledge to be gained in physics puzzler ‘Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead’.

Prior to bringing this new bridge-builder sim to Nintendo’s hybrid, developer ClockStone ported ‘Bridge Constructor: Portal’ to the Switch back in 2018 (after an initial PC release), proving they have a knack for bringing these strategic puzzlers to Nintendo’s machine, but is this genre well suited to the console?

This latest addition to the series brings the (somewhat lingering) hit AMC show to your fingertips, in an unusual mash-up of the undead versus construction worker.

You start with a brief story detailing the ‘night that the world fell’ — spoiler alert: a virus has taken over, turning people into zombies.

During this prelude you’re introduced to two new and unfamiliar characters, Kyra and Miles. But fans of the show need not worry, as this fresh duo are quickly accompanied by none other than The Walking Dead favourite Eugene Porter. Along the way you will rescue other notable characters from the TV show, such as Daryl and Michonne.

With witty humour, and smarts to boot, Eugene is a seemingly perfect fit for the tasks that lay ahead (having even planned the construction of an actual bridge in the show itself - handy). This new trio hit it off immediately (which admittedly seems a tad out of character for the usually reserved Eugene) — and after a comedic exchange, swiftly agree to help one another.

So, what do they need help with? Well, it’s time to build some literal bridges.

If you’re not familiar with Bridge Constructor then the premise is one that’s fairly simple to grasp — your goal is to get from A-to-B. You must solve a series of conundrums using the materials you’ve got to hand to build a sturdy bridge across a variety of challenging chasms, all of which are suitably themed to shows setting.

Playing around with the physics when building is where the core of this puzzle experience truly lies, and getting a solid bridge in place is more often than not the result of trial and error. This ‘tinkering until you succeed’ can often present a joyous challenge to chew on, plopping pieces in new spots and seeing if it works.

On the flip side, and if you’ve played any of the series entries before you’ll know this, the difficulty (particularly in later levels) can often lead to a bit of frustration, requiring you to put considerable time, effort and experimentation in on a single level.

Thankfully, it’s more hit than miss on which levels will give you a fun problem to solve, versus outright frustrating you.

Detailed instructions on basic building are outlined early on, and as each new material is introduced there are additional pointers to help you along. This constructor’s guide is handy to refer to throughout your time with the game, offering refreshers on key building methods — so if you’re stuck and unsure what to do next it's worth looking over.

Whilst you can use the Joy-Cons to navigate your way through a level, you can also use the touchscreen to build your structures. I had a difficult time using the screen (chubby fingers and touchscreen don’t always go hand in hand) and found it annoying and awkward to place down structures. I thought maybe using a Switch compatible stylus would work better, but again, I had difficulties. This is a game that often requires fine placement of objects in order to succeed — as such, no matter what control scheme you use, you never truly feel as precise as you’d like (something that isn’t an issue when playing with a mouse on the PC).

As you might imagine, there’s a notably different art style compared to other Bridge Constructor entries. This one has a grungy, worn and dull look throughout — which is fitting with the post-apocalyptic subject matter.

The original Bridge Constructor was clear, precise and short on dialogue. Compare that to The Walking Dead and Portal entries, and you’ll see that you're treated to a much larger array of dialogue — as obviously there is more story to tell here, and communication between characters is far greater. Throughout this game you will hear little clips of the original TV shows theme tune added to the score, which is a well thought out tribute to the well loved zombie show. It’s great to see that no Bridge Constructor entry is wholly the same, tailoring each to their specific theme. This isn’t just a reskin, and the effort to tailor the experience to fans of the show shines.

One neat addition to this Walking Dead variant of Bridge Constructor is the fact that you’re also given complete control of the cast of characters. You can instruct them to take the path to safety or even into combat with the walkers.

It’s up to you what your character in question does upon completing the bridge. Whether they go down a set of ladders first and then over the bridge, or whether they need to take out a few zombies first by going over to a machine that once pressed, will release a shipping container onto the undead. If you decide to do nothing, it will come with consequences too (for example, walking to a bridge and then getting attacked by the walkers is not something you really want to do). All of this adds a welcome layer of additional puzzle solving, and helps tie in the shows theme all the more.

The collision of these two worlds is a good fit. As they’ve captured the look and feel of The Walking Dead universe brilliantly, whether that be via the dialogue, art style, or music. Yes, the experience on offer here can be a tad slow in places, and anyone approaching this should be prepared for plenty of trial and error. But this ‘tinkering until things work’ can be a rewarding experience. Sadly, this tinkering is somewhat hindered by the control scheme — but all in all, this strategy/puzzle game has lots to do and is a solid exploration of the world of The Walking Dead.

Offering five chapters with several levels in each, ‘Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead’ is an experience with plenty to sink your teeth into. Just don’t make a mistake, or you’ll be the one getting bitten.