M.C. Escher’s artwork is known for two things: messing with your perspective, and seamlessly combining art and mathematics in a way that allows viewers to explore complex concepts and impossible realities in a unique visual experience. This combination is what makes Escher’s work so inspirational for future artists, and what makes a game like The Bridge a rather unsurprising concept, but not necessarily a wasteful one. The developers try and make the most out of their idea with beautiful art, impressive physics, and difficult but not frustrating gameplay, but don’t quite make it all of the way.
The Bridge’s stages are obviously inspired by Escher. They combine art and science to create unique puzzles in which players traverse physically impossible realities to open a series of doors. The twisting level design is simple but wonderful and never monotonous.
There are enough mechanics in play to make each level diverse, but not too many that it becomes overwhelming. There are portals that you can use to trap giant boulders, keys or any other number of objects. You can turn the stage in order to access different areas, and can access multiple dimensional planes by inverting the level. These planes are all combined in different ways to prevent you from reaching the door at the end that takes you to the next mind-bending puzzle.
However, the problem comes with the combination of art and science that is in the foundation of the game. The Bridge is both a piece of moving art and a video game, but it is not both simultaneously. Separately, these facets are well done. The backgrounds are gorgeous and incredibly dichotomous in both their detail and pure simplicity. Each one is a work of art worthy of framing. The structure of the game is complex and for the most part is able to create difficult and rewarding puzzles. The two aspects work well in isolation but don’t quite mesh together, as the technical aspects seem to suffer under the game’s attempts to be visually stunning. The art is much better than the game itself.