The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation PS5 Review – Softstar Entertainment is best known for the Legend of Sword and Fairy franchise as well as Xuan Yuan Sword, which finally got a localisation. While these are very different from traditional horror games, after playing the imperfect The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation, I’m eager to see the development team tackle more games within the genre.
The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation PS5 Review – Benefiting from The Good As Well As The Bad
A group of six university students have a plan to go viral: livestream themselves coaxing out the ghost of a girl that died on the bridge at their university. At the stroke of midnight, one of them sits in a chair on the bridge, and the others blindfold him.
After prompting him, he stands up and walks to the stairs, which is believed to add one more step to the 13-step staircase at the stroke of midnight on February 29. If he faces away from the stairs for any reason, he dies. The ghost makes good on the claims, which scatters the students in all directions.
You spend time with each of the characters throughout the three-hour game, getting a feel not only for the environment but the personalities of the students. One is a nervous wreck, another a vocal skeptic, one tall and quiet, one driven for viral fame, another doubting and depressed, and the last oozes confidence.
Meet The Gang
Three hours doesn’t account for much time, but the game affords plenty of scenarios to let you acquaint yourself with each protagonist. What’s both odd and effective is how angsty these characters react to some events. In some cases, the responses are expected, while in others, they do something unique that stands out.
Better yet, these actions still line up with their characters. It’s wonderful to see characters that have trope-like aspects without being tropes themselves. Tropes exist for a reason, but people are still unpredictable. Above all else, the strong characterization here helps this game cross the finish line.
Another worthy mention is that The Bridge Curse does a good job of aligning with the Taiwanese movie of the same name. Both do a great job of meeting some horror expectations and subverting others, keeping you on your toes most of the time. To boot, the approach and level of information the game delivers allows the concept to breathe and develop more than the movie does.
Mixed Audio And Video
In several areas, The Bridge Curse really flexes the Unreal Engine 5’s graphic fidelity and light rendering to an impressive degree. Tons of details, objects, and just random things exist in each setting you navigate, which adds to the believability of this location. It housed people at some point, and books, pictures, etc. show up all over desks and hallways. No details are lost in these objects either, which adds to the impressive showing on this front.
However, the characters themselves look rendered from a generation or two prior. In contrast, they still work well enough for the entire game to succeed, but the visual disparity between scenery and characters is almost glaring, mostly due to how impressive the locales are.
Audio presentation follows a similar pattern, but the disparities appear randomly. One area where the sound effects excel are the creatures and the settings themselves. Every sound is clear (when intended) and effective, and matches the source accurately making for an immersive experience.
I say the previous sentence that way for a reason: Some voice work doesn’t share the same quality as the others. Some sound like they recorded further away from a microphone, while others sound like they recorded in a place with slight white noise.
To clarify, this showed up in the English dub of the game. After seeing the movie dubbed, dubbing the game felt more natural to me. Some may not even experience this issue, but the audio quality of the localization could have been better.
On that note, the translation team did a great job of delivering these unique characters through the writing. Equally so, the characters’ voice actors all perform their roles well. Unfortunately, the inconsistent audio quality stands out too often to ignore.
Straight To The Point
In hindsight, gameplay is something that I appreciated when I finished The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation. At the beginning, the ghost immediately chases you and you have to hide. Even if the ghost is right on your tail, you are safe if you get into a hiding spot; the phantom just stops and then goes on patrol to find you.
In the early moments however, the game feels a bit cheap. The scare factor diminishes when you have such easily accessible safe zones. However, as you progress, you improve at the game, learning where places are and how to get there. Even when chased, you find a more efficient way to get where you need to go without much difficulty.
The horror elitist in me says that a more authentic experience improves the experience. In this case, though, the lax approach adds a level of forgiveness that I appreciate more than I expected.
Method To The Madness
I still experienced the tension, and I still experienced the rushes from scary moments. The big change is there weren’t many interruptions caused by frequent or random deaths. The fear may not be as long lasting, but the uneasiness of what’s to come stays through to the end.
I despise the expression “the game respects your time.” To me, it cheapens what the development team creates into a short-term distraction. However, the idea behind this expression applies here simply because the development team crafted a faster pace into its horror experience.
All that in mind, the game occasionally throws a simple puzzle at you, asking you to collect several items in the room and place them on a chart or shelf in the correct order. These slow down the pace a bit. The hints are there but they are not as forward-facing as the rest of the game. Still, even with the obscure hints, it’s not too hard to strong arm the puzzles by guessing where the items go. There’s no consequence either, which helps.
Modernizing the Formulas
The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation takes the traditional tropes and horror tactics and gives them a modern approach, creating a faster paced take on the genre. Visuals and audio are mixed, and the pacing isn’t always consistent, but The Bridge Curse does enough well to merit its creative decisions, good or bad.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.