The Bridge Curse found a place on Netflix in February 2020, just before the world fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. The horror film, based in Taiwan, China, was met with very mixed reviews and barely scratched the surface of what truly makes an inventive and unique horror title. Involving six university students performing a ritual of bravery, everything falls apart and leaves them fighting for their lives. Funnily enough, the mediocre movie has somehow found its way onto consoles as The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation, a game developed by Softstar Entertainment that allows players to step into the role of all six characters from the film, playing out the events and seeing the perspectives of everybody involved.
Most of the game relies on walking from one location to the next, finding key items to advance the plot, glorified chase sequences, and generic jump scares. Bad audio design means that characters like to overlap their own dialogue, and the limited controls provided for the player make for one very boring playthrough experience. As somebody who likes authenticity in their games, I had hoped to play through the game in Chinese with English subtitles, but the game provides no option to change the language. Hearing Chinese characters speak in plain American English at a school in Taiwan doesn’t seem too realistic to me. The quality of voice acting itself is subpar at the best of times, and events that should seem terrifying barely extract any real emotion out of the characters.
You Can Run, But You Can Also Hide
The game allows players to see the perspective of all six characters, introducing us to a variety of different ghosts with unique designs. For example, one of the first ghosts the player encounters resembles a human female puppet that our first protagonist must escape from using hiding techniques similarly used in games like Outlast. If captured, the ghost stares at the camera before letting out a hideous scream, showing sharp teeth and whitened pupils, resulting in a game over. Other spectral beings include a long, black-haired demon in a grey dress, possibly referencing Kayako from The Grudge, and a weird, fast baby demon that is used as mainly a jump scare technique. The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation excels at its variety of designs surrounding these ghosts, but they all do the same thing: chase the player, touch them once, and kill them instantly with their own special death animation.
A Sprinkle Extra
There isn’t much to the story other than a simple retelling of the film with added bits to extend into a fully playable video game. Certain puzzles that might require items to be found feel unnecessary. For instance, the beginning of the game has the player find documents to be placed on a whiteboard in order of events. These have been printed by somebody who thought playing hide and seek with each item would be a good game design. Each document has to be individually discovered, and sometimes these items are placed in areas that don’t make sense. For example, one document found on a chair in the corner of the room is separate from another one on the end of a table. Why not put them all together in one pile instead of having the player tediously walk around scratching their head on where these items are located?
Get Those Calories In
Visually, The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation is a good-looking game, and it does well to visualize and recreate the locations in the movie. However, these places are run through extremely frequently and tend to get repetitive, especially when the game tells you to run back through the location of the university grounds. The running speed for our protagonists is slow and sluggish, probably used to create more tension within chase scenes. However, when exploring, I would have appreciated the game to introduce quicker speeds to accommodate the massive university campus as each building is quite far apart. Indoor speeds are pretty much perfect, with chase sequences adding moments of intensity, but actual, passive exploration needs small tweaks to stop the player from feeling like the character is dragging their feet as they travel.
The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation has more padding than a cell in a psychiatric hospital. Rather than being a tense, suspenseful horror title, its heavy reliance on repetitive chase sequences becomes rather tiresome and feels outdated for a new console release. It’s not the worst game in the horror genre, but there are far more games out there that I could recommend instead.
Publisher: Softstar, eastasiasoft
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC
Release Date: 30th August 2023