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Game Day: Poly Bridge

It’s a good bet that I’ve stumbled onto a great game when it gets in the way of finishing the review. That’s been the case with Poly Bridge, a physics-based puzzle game with simulator elements that sucks me in for long stretches every time I launch it.

There’s a lot to master here. It reminds me of those balsa wood projects you may have done in a Physics class in high school. You start with a budget and materials and need to build a bridge that spans a gap so vehicles can get across safely. Budget and material constraints prevent you from over-engineering your bridge. Instead, you have to carefully design your structure for maximum effectiveness.

The game starts out with a tutorial that familiarizes players with the basic bridge construction tools. In the beginning, you only have road materials and wood to work with. Bridge building is accomplished by picking materials and connecting anchor points to draw a bridge. There are tools for selecting sections of your bridge if you want to adjust them, moving joints, undoing and redoing actions, and more. As you progress through its 100 levels, Poly Bridge introduces new materials and challenges that keep the game from getting boring. There’s enough to learn that it can be helpful to go back to the level selection screen and replay the tutorial when you first get stuck.

When you think you’ve designed a bridge that will work, tap play to test it. If your bridge doesn’t hold up under the load, slow down playback and turn on ‘Stress Visibility’ in the toolbar. That’s the best way to see the parts of your bridge that fail so you can make adjustments.

I’ve found that I enjoy testing out different structures the most, but there is also a star scoring system that rewards you for building the most sound bridge within your budget. That adds replay value to the levels by challenging players to build the best bridge possible.

At its heart, Poly Bridge is more a physics-based puzzle game than a simulator, so you’ll like it if you’re a fan of games like Perchang and Enigmo. But the even though the bridge simulations are confined to a level-based structure, each is a unique sandbox for testing out designs over and over that I think fans of simulator games will love too. It’s a great mix of the two genres and thoroughly absorbing.

Poly Bridge is available on the App Store and on Steam for macOS.

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