The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Jan 15, 2010
The Odd Gentlemen’s time-twisting platformer The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, originally designed as a Flash-based PC game and first shown during E3 back in 2008, will be adorably floating its way onto Xbox Live Arcade next month. In preparation for the final release, I recently took the game for a little hands-on romp to find out what we can expect from this eye-catching and mind-melting puzzle title.
The downloadable game tells the tale of a pie obsessed (and oddly pie shaped) man named P.B. Winterbottom who is forced to revisit his dastardly past by a giant, magical, flying pie to fix the wrongs he has caused. Clichéd, I know. To achieve this, Winterbottom is granted the ability to create clones of himself, which translates into you being able to record your actions and then use that playback to solve puzzles.
The first thing you’ll notice about the game is the stunning Edward Gorey-meets-silent-film art design. It might not be for everyone, but it’s undeniably inventive and executed wonderfully. And when you combine that art style with the interstitial poems that explain the context for each puzzle and the haunting, silent movie-ish soundtrack, you get one pretty damn whimsical and engaging game.
During my hands-on time, I was only able to check out the game’s first three “movies” (i.e. sections), each one consisting of a variety of puzzles to solve, but I still came away mighty impressed with the cleverness and design of the challenges. See, each level has a certain number of pies that must be “eaten” in order to progress. Sometimes, Winterbottom is able to eat the pies himself, while other times the pies can only be eaten by clones.
Some of the puzzles come down to simply recording yourself hitting a switch and when you play it back, you stand on the platform the switch controls, wait for your clone to hit it, and voila. As you progress, the puzzles become more elaborate, and require you to think three or four steps ahead in order to make up for certain restrictions like having to eat the pies in a particular order or only being able to use clones to eat the pies.
Successfully cracking the code for each puzzle is enormously satisfying, even in these early stages when you’re limited to just one or two clones. One of the early training levels let me have six clones going at once, and it was absolutely nuts. I can only imagine what the later challenges will be like when that many pieces are in motion at one time.