Shifting Your Perception

Time seems to be turning back in regards to game development and it is the small independent developers that are inventing the most ingenious games, harkening to the days when our beloved hobby first started and games were developed in garages and basements by only a few intrepid entrepreneurs.  Some of these games make their way to the mainstream audiences, while others are left in the shadows waiting to be discovered. Games like Braid, Limbo, and The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai are example of some successful indie developed games.  Thanks to programs like Steam Greenlight, we are seeing more innovative games get their chance to be noticed and loved.  This is where developer Ty Taylor and artist Mario Castañeda enter the picture. Together they are The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild (which, in my opinion, is one of the best studio names in a long time) and what started out as a simple school project has turned into the fully realized indie game, The Bridge.

The Bridge screen 1

The Bridge has gone on to win numerous awards before its release on February 22nd, including: Winner of “PAX 10” from PAX 2012, Winner of  both “Achievement in Gameplay” and “Achievement in Art Direction” from Indie Game Challenge 2012, as well as taking the Grand Prize winnings from the Seattle Independent Game Competition 2012,  Seattle iFest 2012, and the Redmond Digital Art Festival 2012.  Many awards and many other nominations litter the accolades of this title and all deservedly so.  Originally created as a project requirement for Ty’s Master of Science degree in Computer Science at Case Western Reserve University, and shortly after he started the game, Mario Castaneda became the sole artist for his Art minor capstone project at Case Western.  Although both have since graduated from their programs, production continued on The Bridge to flesh it out into the professional quality title it is today.

The Bridge is an incredibly unique take on the 2D puzzle genre with mind-bending puzzles in the art style of M.C. Escher.  Who hasn’t been so fascinated by M.C. Escher’s work that they haven’t wondered what it would be like to actually be in those perception-bending images? Well, now you can.  The concept of the puzzles in this game are simple: get to the door.  Sometimes the door is locked so you’ll need to grab the key first, but there’s not much more to them.  How you go about getting to those objectives, however, will certainly take some brain power and some perception shifting too.  You’ll be forced to think in 3D, think upside down, backwards, and even in multiple dimensions.

The Bridge screen 2

Presented entirely in black and white, the art found here is of the best found in any optical illusion images.  Not only must you grasp what you’re looking at, you must now navigate your way through the illusions.  Floors become ceilings, walls become floors, there is no up, no down, and everything you know is wrong.  The music accompanying the game is a soft melodic one that seems to be perfect for coaxing your otherwise hesitant brain to think through these puzzles in a calm fashion.  There is something simply mesmerizing about the entire experience, one that gives pleasure when the answer is finally reached, and one that just begs you to play “just one more puzzle”.  The Bridge is a collection of 48 uniquely different puzzles that will challenge you to think in ways you’ve never done before.  There is no time limit, no death, no battles, just one brain exercise after another.  Just when you think you understand the concepts, something new will be thrown in for good measure, forcing you to rethink the world yet again. You will find yourself wanting to quit because of a seemingly impossible situation, but the satisfaction found when you finally reach the goal is indescribable.

The Bridge will challenge you to think of puzzle games in a completely new way and will leave you wanting to experience more from these guys.  I found myself wanting to take this game with me because I didn’t want to stop playing it when I had to put it down.  The simple controls of this game would certainly lend itself well to a mobile platform version and this is something I would certainly welcome with open arms.  Until then, The Bridge is one of the most intriguing puzzle games to come along since Portal and one well worth all the confusion it will put you through.  It certainly isn’t a long game but the time spent here will be met with wonderful intellectual challenges and will be a game you will remember fondly for a long time to come.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.