A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Poly Bridge is a downloadable puzzle game based on bridge engineering challenges. Players are tasked with getting cars of differing sizes and weights from one area to another by constructing stable bridges from varying materials. The game is easy to learn, but the varying degrees of challenge from each puzzle could frustrate some players. There isn't any objectionable content within the game, only the challenge of trying to keep each bridge standing until the end of the level.
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What's it about?
POLY BRIDGE doesn't have a story. This bridge-building simulator asks players to make structures from items such as wood, steel, and cables. At the start of each of the more than 60 campaign levels, players are given a start and end point for the various cars that are trying to cross your bridge. Players also are shown the set of materials that can be used on that stage, with a goal of keeping the build of your bridge substantially under budget from round to round. Designers need to take into account the stress on joints for the bridge so cars can safely roll (or, in some cases, jump from ramps) from one side to the other. Attention also will have to be paid to making drawbridges for boats as well as handling sequences of vehicles that cross the bridge at different times and speeds. Aside from the campaign mode, players can engage in a sandbox mode to create their own levels, a workshop section to share created levels with others, and a gallery to save GIFs of levels.
Is it any good?
At first glance, Poly Bridge doesn't look like it's going to be anything special: The visuals are somewhat low-definition (which stands out in this era of HD-/4K-resolution gaming), and the concept of getting scooters or school buses from Point A to Point B sounds overly simplistic. It's almost like a digital erector set for cars that seems like it can be beaten in minutes. But that’s the deceptive hook cast by the game to reel players in; in reality, the structure you build in each level has to withstand the stress of the materials themselves, the forces of gravity, the momentum and weight of the vehicles, and so on. Any one of these factors can make the bridge fail spectacularly, crashing to the ground into a heap. Though that may be a bit dismaying, it also provides a sense of elation when the player manages to build a bridge that withstands the challenge and lets you proceed. That only grows when you're able to use fewer materials, but you can make a bridge that's just as solid.
Unfortunately, the game's random level of difficulty affects playability. It's possible to play through one or two stages and have no problem with your bridge design, but the next stage or two will be so punishingly difficult that you may throw your mouse in frustration. Even worse is the fact that it can be almost impossible to tell which section of your bridge seems to be failing and why. Bridges will fail in completely different ways (even on the same level), so deconstructing the problem will result in a ton of trial-and-error testing. Fortunately, though the game is feature-complete and stable, it's still technically being worked on and expanded, so it's possible that these issues could be smoothed out. As it stands now, Poly Bridge is an enjoyable physics-based puzzler, but its rough edges keep it from being truly phenomenal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the challenge of building a bridge or other structure. Do you think it's easy to make something that's structurally sound? Do you think you might want to do that someday for a living? Did the game boost your interest in engineering?
Talk about solving puzzles. Can you apply your approach to solving the puzzles in Poly Bridge to your approach in other games or real life?
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