Realistic physics may be one of the greatest innovations in the modern era of gaming, and nowhere does this gameplay mechanic fit better than in the World of Goo-pioneered bridge-building genre. Though games like Tiki Towers and Moonlights have tread this ground already on the iPhone, Bridge Odyssey aims to conquer the genre with a hefty dose of cute.
That cuteness is possibly Bridge Odyssey’s greatest success, too. The presentation is top-notch, from the colorful tropical-themed graphics to the surprisingly good soundtrack. The soundtrack won’t blow you away with sweeping orchestral scores, but it is insanely catchy and fits the theme of the game perfectly. You’ll be humming these short tunes incessantly for days.
The graphics are also great, with adorable characters who actually enhance the gameplay. Normally, a cute little elephant doesn’t get us all that excited, but when it’s our responsibility to keep that cute little elephant from falling into a pit of lava, then the fact that it’s cute becomes a lot more significant. We were genuinely saddened every time we accidentally let one of these adorable critters meet their untimely demise.
Tread lightly, elephant friend.
The wonderfully cute visual design comes at a price, though. This game seems to have been designed with a less experienced gamer in mind. Almost every stage of the first six worlds (there are eight total) is an absolute breeze, and can be completed in 30 minutes or so. There is some added difficulty in that you must retrieve a bunch of bananas in order to get a perfect score, but even challenges like this aren’t very difficult in the first 3/4 of the game.
Conversely, the last two worlds turn this completely around. They’re not only satisfyingly difficult, but will even be tough for genre veterans who have been building bridges since World of Goo and Tiki Towers. The challenge of these last 15 or so stages comes completely out of left field, and may take you by surprise, but it’s the best part of the game.
These later levels are a genuine triumph for this genre. The beautiful moments in bridge building games don’t often come from levels where you build a perfectly sound bridge and you reach the other side without a care. They come from the times when you’re short on supplies and have to get creative. These works of horrifying architecture that creak with every step and generally hang by a single thread are the heart of the genre. In the last two worlds, Bridge Odyssey delivers this, and saves itself from being a relatively ho-hum clone. We only wish more of the game was this thrilling.
Bridge Odyssey is a good bridge-builder, but it feels as if it was built for two very separate audiences. The first part seems to want to educate genre newcomers and casual gamers, while the second part provides a challenge to the hardcore. The problem is that the two never intersect, and will leave both groups isolated from one part of the game. The hardcore will fly through the beginning, and the casual will be stumped at the end.
It’s not a huge issue, and most people will still be able to find fun in Bridge Odyssey. If you’ve enjoyed this type of game in the past, then you won’t be disappointed.