Bridge Constructor Portal: Portal Proficiency DLCby Adam Dileva
Back when I reviewed Bridge Constructor Portal’s original release, I enjoyed it for its challenge and mashup of bridge building with Portal. Oddly enough, a little shy of two years later and we finally have a paid DLC titled Portal Proficiency. As you can guess from its title, this DLC expands upon the whole Portal element to the gameplay, adding 30 more challenging levels that will surely put your puzzle solving skills to the test. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than simply a ‘map pack’, but there’s actually some completely new mechanics thrown in that takes quite a bit of getting used to, on top of the corebridge building skills of course.
Once again you’re back in the Aperture Science laboratories, and while there’s a minor semblance to some narrative, the biggest letdown was the complete omission of the iconic GLaDOS. That’s right, you’re simply tasked with passing each test, but don’t have the wonderful voice work of Ellen McLain berating you the whole way across each test chamber to the next.
While the core gameplay is unchanged, having you build bridges so that your forklifts can make it to the exit, what is new is that you’re able to actually place portals on any white surface where you desire. In the base game, the portals were in preset places, but now, you’re able to place up to 10 different pairs of portals, adding for some crazy challenge.
While I didn’t think that simply adding the ability to place the portals themselves would have made such a huge difference in the gameplay and challenge, I was completely wrong. Not only do you have to build your bridges properly, now you have to factor in the exact placements of each portal as well, as the slightest offset can stop your convoy in its tracks.
The first few levels ease you into the gameplay, first showing you how to place portals and bridge building basics, but eventually the challenge ramps up quite quickly. You begin only needing one, maybe two, pairs of portals, but eventually you’ll have numerous placed all over the test chambers. Just like Portal, you’ll also eventually have to deal with turrets, companion cubes to toggle switches, the speed and bouncy gel and more. While there’s a basic tutorial, I wish this was expanded upon a little more, as I didn’t really understand it all that well, especially flipping the ‘side’ that your forklift comes out of the portal, which is essential in later stages. Don’t let the first half dozen levels fool you though, as the remaining 20+ test chambers are going to test your frustration limits.
Just when you think you’ve figured out the portal aspect, you also are reminded that this is a Bridge Constructor game, and will need to build many ramps and passages for your test subjects to make it to the exit. The later stages require some serious ingenuity though, as simply building a bridge won’t always cut it. Sometimes you’ll need to make ramps, or figure a way to have a forklift launch from a portal and then flip the other way via a bridge. I found the levels in this Portal Proficiency DLC required a lot more creative solutions, not even factoring the nearly dozen pairs of portals you’ll need to place around as well. I also found that there’s many less anchor points for your bridge building, meaning you’ll have to become much more resourceful with your designs.
The first pair of portals you place are yellow, so any forklift that goes in one yellow portal will come out the other matching one. Place a blue pair and the same applies, and when you factor in up to ten pairs of colored portals, you’re going to have to really think ahead of how you want to accomplish what you’re trying to do. Every new pair of portals you place adds much more difficulty, and while you’re only able to place portals on white surfaces, that doesn’t make it any easier.
30 levels may not seem like a lot on paper for a DLC, but when you’re stumped on a level for more than an hour at a time, slightly tweaking your portals or trying to figure out how to add support to your awkward bridges, there’s a lot of gameplay within. While the lack of any GLaDOS cameo is quite disappointing and makes this DLC feel slightly less genuine, this Portal Proficiency DLC is a great excuse to jump back into the game if it’s been shelved for some time, provided you don’t become frustrated easily, as these new test chambers will put you to the test.