At first blush, Poly Bridge is a puzzle game that might not look like much.
After all, it’s a pretty simple game: each level presents two pieces of land with a gap between them, often a river. You click on some load-bearing points and define where a bridge should go to cross the span. A few seconds later, you add the proper supports, and that’s it. Bridge built. Press a button to watch cars drive over.
It all looks like this.
The goal of every Poly Bridge level is to construct the best bridge you can with the budget you’re allotted. Coming in under budget is basically a high score, and making an especially clever bridge is nice, but neither is essential.
Of course, bridge-building becomes more complex the longer the game goes on. You’ll build bridges out of wood at first, then later add steel beams and suspension cables. At first bridges are stationary, but later need to be built to separate so boats can travel beneath them.
And then there are the jumps. And the balloons.
Poly Bridge is by no means the first bridge-building puzzle game to hit the market, but it does have one glorious evolution over the competition: it instantly kicks out GIFs of your bridge-testing simulations, which makes it easy to share them on social media—or in articles like this one.
If Poly Bridge was just about constructing simple bridges, or even complex (but realistic) ones, it still wouldn’t be that notable. But the game has quickly inspired a community of engineering-minded players to find some bonkers solutions to generally simple, span-crossing problems. The Poly Bridge subreddit is full of them.
And there are some really inspired solutions.
Like, batshit solutions.
Poly Bridge is currently in Early Access on the PC gaming platform Steam, which means Poly Bridge is still being developed, but the gist of it is: do a good job building bridges.
But sometimes you don’t do a good job building bridges. Sometimes, you don’t do a good job at all.
Build a crappy bridge, and this happens.
Abruptly, even comedically, the family of four headed for a weekend at Grandma’s house, relying on your little slice of civil engineering and never considering they might be in any danger at all, has plummeted to their watery graves.
Sometimes, a bridge just collapses into utter mayhem.
Underlying all those good building times and cool bridge solutions is the horror of the hastily built, underfunded, ill-conceived feats of construction that become awful death traps for the poor bastards unfortunate enough to try to cross them.
Truly, Poly Bridge is a game full of intense tragedy.
As well as the agony of defeat.
Just take a minute to imagine the family vacation that became this horror show. Sorry kids, we’re not going to make it to Disneyland this summer. Or ever.
You also get utter travesties like this one. Yup, everyone’s dead.
From the Poly Bridge User Gallery
Most of my bridges fall into the “travesty” category, in fact. I’m not only letting down the citizens who would use them, but also the municipalities that entrust me with their money and expect me to build something that looks like human architecture.
I still haven’t really figured out how to build a proper drawbridge, so I get a lot of this.
Poly Bridge hits an amazing sweet spot of combining amazing video game puzzle solutions with utter, ridiculous failure. The comedy of watching cars bottom out as whole huge infrastructures topple down to crush them is what makes Poly Bridge fun—that and the ability to instantly share your triumphs and the life-ruining failures with the rest of the internet.
Seriously, some of these are just straight-up nonsense.
You can almost hear the sad trombone playing in the background.
But hey, if the cars get there, they get there. Your job is building bridges and beating budgets. Whether all the school children are 100% intact upon arrival is not your problem.
Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer and the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory. He was hoping the latter would help him get Han Solo hair, but so far he’s been unsuccessful. He lives with his wife and annoying cats in Los Angeles.
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