On the scientific construction of death traps
You wouldn’t trust me to build you a bridge. I just don’t “get” it. I don’t get why criss-crossing planks of wood positioned in a certain way makes a bridge sturdier rather than weighing the whole thing down. It’s a construction technique that I nevertheless had to pick up pretty quickly whilst playing Bridge Constructor Medieval. You play as the “Architect”, the Kingdom’s one and only civil engineer, whose duty it is to produce bridges when asked. It’s a puzzle game, as opposed to a simulation – which explains a lot, as you may be continually baffled by how things remain aloft.
Originally a mobile game, Bridge Constructor Medieval, sequel to the somewhat tone-less modern day Bridge Constructor, is a simple affair. The game involves a set of insular, increasingly difficult challenges – physics-puzzles where you’re given a set amount of gold and materials in order to build a bridge safe enough for your Kingdom’s men to cross. Initially there’ll be a lot of horses and carriages meeting their demise, dashed and shattered against cliff faces and rocky gorges below, all due to your shoddy handiwork. Gradually you’ll pick up the techniques required to build the right bridge: one with solid stone foundations, networks of light wooden beams supported by thick, stronger ones, with ropes supporting the entire shoogly mess. It might not be a science, but there’s something to it. There are materials to choose from (four or five), and some challenges will limit these, forcing you to utilise different techniques.
Considerations on the brutality of feudal society
There is however little impetus to build a bridge that will stand the test of time, all you really need to do is to build something that’ll hold up for just as long as it takes for your little men to cross. The bridges I built were usually always junk, wonky and throwaway. Bridge Constructor offers an industry of fast food style construction. Some challenges will even allow you to lose people, the bridge collapsing just behind the lucky few. You will succeed anyway. Feudalism sure was brutal, wasn’t it?
Bridges with a one-time use, cartoonish screams – it’s a silly little game. As the challenges progress you’ll be building protective roofs over your bridge to shield supply runners from an onslaught of catapult fire. However, the most interesting segments are about half way through the game. Instead of building bridges that are just good enough, you’re tasked with building bridges which are just shoddy enough. Suddenly it’s little enemy soldiers travelling the other way, attempting to cross your bridge and invade your lands; you want to build something sturdy enough that you won’t put them off of crossing entirely, but shoddy enough that when it starts to collapse there’ll be no turning back for them. Things really were brutal back in feudal times!
A bridge not far enough
It probably says a lot about my skills as a make-believe civil engineer when my favourite segments were the easy bits which rewarded building death traps. Bridge Constructor has its moments of frustration; sometimes you’re just doing it wrong. You can skimp on materials and earn gold medals for each challenge, but when all is said and done there are only so many ways to build a bridge (for example, attempting to build a bridge to space won’t work). Bridge Constructor can be a decent distraction, perfect for a few minutes of throwaway fun – but when there are so many exciting and creative construction games and simulations out there, Bridge Constructor begins to look lightweight and weak, like one of my own engineering creations. The mobile version made perfect sense. Whilst there’s nothing really noxious about the PC port, I don’t think it has enough interesting elements or depth to warrant immediate attention.
Building death traps is amusing, mixes things up nicely by rewarding death traps, funny screams when your little men fall to their deaths
Can be frustrating, too few options, probably more suited to the mobile platform, feudalism was brutal