Under the Bridge

by Samantha Khan


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Number of Reviews: 7
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A melancholic tale about otherness and survival, May 23, 2023

~~ Updated Review from the 2022 IFComp bc I played the game again ~~

Under the Bridge is a fairly short and contained game, with 4+ endings, with a heavy themes of otherness, exclusion and survival. Playing as some sort of lonely eldritch abomination, forced to leave the comfort of the forest to end up hiding under a bridge, your main task is to survive. Peering above the bridge might bring sustenance or deadly confrontation.

Through the otherness of the main character, we get to see mundane aspects shown in a different light. The writing brings a strange uneasiness to the setting, from the large eyes of the frog to the stomping of the armed men. With how other characters react to you, you can't help but feel unwanted.

While the writing focuses on the senses and basic description of elements, there is something very unnerving about its simpleness. The use of 1st plural POV brings questions about who the player is supposed to be: are we but a lost monster or a collective? Is our loneliness turning us mad? It makes for a horror moody piece, enhanced by the darkness of the UI and the choice of animation and formatting of the text.

I really enjoy the addition of assets into this game. The different SFX added to the text, bringing the setting into life, with the wind rustling the branches in the forest, the sound of water flowing by the bridge, the threatening footsteps of the guards... Similarly the illustration, especially of the monster, helped to bring forth the horror-y aspect of the game.

Through the binary choices, you get to interact with the different characters approaching the bridge, with interesting variation for each. However, it is after you reach the end, that things got a bit... dull. You are prompted only with a Play Again? link, sending you right back at the start. If you are replaying the game as soon as you reached the end, you have to go through all the non-choice passages, and things get repetitive pretty fast (the variation only happens on the passages right after your choice or just before an ending).

I also had some little issues with the styling of the game, especially with the sizing of the page or the obtrusive sidebar.