The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Video game villains these days all have an endgame – some elaborate
plan involving unwitting pawns and world domination. P.B. Winterbottom
comes from a simpler time, where cartoonish capers and a diabolical
moustache were all one needed to become a pinnacle of infamy.
Winterbottom lives in an age when pie thievery is a deplorable offense,
and insults like “buttwit” are the height of vicious wordplay.
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom draws its antiquated antihero
and silent film aesthetic from a bygone era, the game doesn’t feel
remotely outdated. On the contrary, its devious puzzle design,
entertaining writing, and striking artistic style earn Winterbottom its
place as one of the best downloadable titles since Braid and Castle
Players control P.B. Winterbottom, a notorious pie
thief who has obtained the ability to manipulate time to create clones
of himself. Fitting in with the old-timey movie theme, you’ll record
your actions, generating a P.B. doppelganger who performs the recorded
sequence in an endless loop. This concept is at the core of every
puzzle, governing P.B. and his temporal copies as they filch pies
across the game’s five levels. It sounds simple, but when you’re
managing several clones in a multi-pie gambit, things get delightfully
Once you master the basics, the game switches things up
by adding a fresh set of conditions or restrictions. Sometimes P.B.
needs to nab pies in a specific order. Sometimes only your clones can
collect pies. Sometimes your clones are evil and kill you on contact.
These twists on the formula aren’t just to make things complicated; by
periodically changing the rules, developer The Odd Gentlemen has
ensured that you aren’t just reusing the same tricks on an escalating
scale. The variety makes every puzzle feel like a unique hurdle, making
the experience satisfying without feeling bloated.
Winterbottom is a 2D puzzle game involving time, it invites comparisons
to Jonathan Blow's hit downloadable title, Braid. However close they may sound in concept,
don’t make the mistake of assuming Winterbottom is just Braid in a
different skin. It has its own clear identity, forged not only by
distinctive puzzles but also by the charming writing delivered via
interstitial poems and “hints” at the bottom of the screen (which
quickly devolve into blatant antagonism). Complementing the quirky
language is a stylized black-and-white Victorian setting. The union of
the two is ultimately what makes the whole silent movie motif come
together so successfully.
While I had a great time working my way
through Winterbottom’s bizarre world, as I neared the end, each success
was met with a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment. Most
scenarios are clever and fun to solve, but the puzzle design never gets
a chance to bare its fangs. I’m not saying the game is easy; the
challenges still require plenty of brain bending. However, the game
never throws down the gauntlet with any “you expect me to do what?”
situations that push the mechanics to their limit. This left some of
the final scenes unsatisfying – though they are cool in other ways I
The entire quest will probably take most gamers
between three and four hours to complete, which could be an issue for
some people. If you’re one of them, I encourage you to stop whining.
The greatness of a game isn’t decided by length. The Misadventures of
P.B. Winterbottom impresses with its puzzle design, offbeat humor, and
sheer style. Hopefully P.B. has more hijinks in his future, because I
already miss the ol’ buttwit.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
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