I spent a lot of time playing Flash games on Newgrounds.com back in the ancient days. There were some really innovative games back then. I don’t think the physics bridge builder genre started as a Flash game (in fact, I think Bridge Builder by Alex Austin has that distinction), but I certainly ran into a bunch of Flash variations that are now lost to time. 2016’s Poly Bridge was never a huge departure from those older bridge building games, but its clean visual style and relaxing soundtrack helped propel the original to be the standard of the genre. Poly Bridge 2 ends up treading water a bit, but it does maintain that standard.
Poly Bridge 2 is a physics-based bridge building game. Usually, the goal is to create a way for vehicles on one side of a gap to successfully make it to the other side. If you’re played the original Poly Bridge, there will be nothing earth shattering here. It’s a comforting return to the mechanics that you know—wood, steel, hydraulics, rope, and the task of putting all of those things together to succeed at whatever challenge is set before you. And that challenge is to span some sort of gap, using as little of your budget as possible, and potentially accomplish it without without your bridge breaking. I mean, it’s usually best if they don’t, but whatever gets the job done!
There are three main ways to play Poly Bridge 2: the ‘worlds’ mode, workshop mode and sandbox. The ‘worlds’ mode is set up like the first game’s, just without a cute overworld bringing it all together. While I do miss the overworld of the first game, the menu that Poly Bridge 2 uses is a hell of a lot more functional. First of all, while it presents the challenges linearly like the first game did, it makes it obvious that you can choose what levels to tackle in the order you want to. It also shows you what to expect before you load into it–like your budget, what the general layout is, and what materials will be available to you to complete each level.
Not every level allows you to use every material, which is part of the challenge. But it’s fun to solve a conventional problem in an unconventional way. In fact, Poly Bridge 2 seems to encourage that in its material selections and level designs. Some levels challenge you to go over or under obstacles, or sometimes both—or use hydraulics to make drawbridges. Springs are great for landing points, so there’s even more flexibility to make jumps and ramps, something a level will occasionally call for—but there’s nothing stopping you from trying that solution on other puzzles. Just don’t expect to be able to jump a bulldozer over a large gap—or take that as a challenge to try.
While Poly Bridge 2 challenges you to complete a level under budget, and without the bridge breaking, both of those criteria aren’t really necessary to check a level off of your list. Your maximum budget is actually a bit closer to twice the budget that game gives you, so you have a ton of freedom to make crazy bridges—or other solutions—to a puzzle set before you. You can then pare down your structure to try and hit budget, if you desire. Of course, you can tackle whatever levels suit your fancy—you’re not required to play them linearly, though doing so helps you develop your bridge skills a bit before getting to harder challenges.
Poly Bridge 2 is itself a bit of a sandbox, even with the challenges each level sets forth. One of the best features is being able to see how other players completed a level. After you are successful you can see a gallery of how other players completed a level. In fact, if you just want to see player selections, you can visit the gallery and peruse the creativity of the community. After level completion, you’re also placed on a leaderboard, and you can see how you stack up against other bridge builders.
There’s not much to complain about with Poly Bridge 2. There seems to be fewer levels, with only four ‘worlds’ instead of the original’s seven. I think there may even be one less level per world. But there are a lot of quality challenges available. Sandbox mode offers a ton of replayability beyond the challenges in the ‘worlds’ mode.
Sandbox mode offers you the chance to not only build a bridge, but to build the environment in which to build that bridge. There are no restrictions here, as you can try out your craziest ideas without material or budgetary limitations. Sandbox mode adds a huge amount of replayability, especially for those who want to tinker with all of the physics quirks. In addition to the sandbox mode, there’s a workshop that lets you play an unlimited amount of user created levels.
Poly Bridge 2 does the job. I wish there was a bit more difference between the sequel and its predecessor, but there are enough new levels to conquer that it’s definitely worth checking out. Though there might not be enough new gameplay mechanics to entice you to get back into it, Poly Bridge 2 is more of that lovely bridge building comfort food of the original.
Poly Bridge 2 is available today on Windows via both Steam and the Epic Game Store, and as an added bonus to celebrate launch day, the original Poly Bridge is on sale on Steam for 80% off!
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