Just in case you missed The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

I wrote the following as practice back in February when The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom released. I like the way Kotaku.com presents reviews, and when I noticed at the time that they had not posted a Winterbottom review, I decided to take a crack at writing something for them. It was completely unsolicited and they understandably never got back to me. Randomly e-mailing fully written unsolicited reviews to gaming sites isn’t the way to get published I have since learned. Thought I should present it here though so that it doesn’t just disappear into the void of my Google Docs account. If you haven’t played the game already, you should, it’s a sweet game. And yes, those last four words are intended as a pun.

The Misadventures of P.B Winterbottom tells the tale of P.B. Winterbottom and his insatiable desire for pie.  The man will literally stop at nothing to consume pie, even if it means venturing into the fourth dimension, starving small children or burning down an entire city.  The man really has an addiction problem.

Winterbottom borrows many elements from Braid, and smartly leaves behind the pretentious storytelling.  You are a man searching for pie, specifically a magical floating pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

The pie filling – It may really just be a story about collecting pie, but there is some interesting narrative here, presented as a few lines of rhyming prose between levels.  The writing is funny, and plays with your expectations of the kind of character you assume Winterbottom is to become.  There are also some neat visual storytelling cues related to the time travel aspect of the game.

The pie crust – The game has a great art style.  Perhaps best described as Jack Skellington fighting Professor Layton in downtown London during the industrial era.  There is very little color in the game, which is used to great effect in highlighting puzzle elements.

The pie taste – As mentioned earlier, Winterbottom borrows from Braid.  Even the level selection screen reminds you of the 2008 Xbox Live Arcade classic.  You won’t be rewinding time like you do in Braid, but you will be cloning yourself heavily to solve puzzles with a recording mechanic.  There aren’t any enemies, or at least not the kind you can attack.  This is strictly puzzle solving, the kind where you may find yourself intently staring at the screen with the game unpaused planning your every move.

The sound of the pie – The music is great, especially the track of the opening levels of the game.  I was ready to spend my 800 points based purely on it’s musical merit while playing through the demo.  It starts out very upbeat and jazzy, but as you progress into the game the musical notes get drawn out, and the upbeat drums and piano eventually disappear.  The change is gradual and you may not notice it immediately, but it is effective and appropriate.  The music in the beginning of the game is drastically different emotionally than the music in the end, and it works.

Only a few pieces of pie – The story line portion of Winterbottom only took me about 4 hours to complete.  The fat on this game has been trimmed to the point where you very rarely find yourself repeating puzzle techniques.  They could have easily made multiple levels using the same techniques, and I would have been happy with that.  No harm in reassuring me that I know what I am doing by repeating certain techniques, right?  Makes me feel smart.

Where’s the extra pie? – There aren’t any hidden elements to any of the levels.  I would have loved to have an excuse to go back to the story levels to find a hidden piece of pie in that difficult nook in the corner of the screen, but Winterbottom’s pie addiction prevents him from leaving a level without first eating all the pie.  It could have added some replay value, and some length to the game overall if there was pie hidden throughout the levels that you did not necessarily need to progress to the next level

Winterbottom is a great, albeit short little puzzle game with an attractive art style, sweet jams and just enough challenge to make you feel like a genius without having to buy new a controller to replace the shattered one you just threw against the wall.  There is a time trial mode which plays a little bit differently that the story level.  I’m glad it’s there, but I did not find it nearly as compelling as the time limit free puzzle levels.  The length probably could have allowed for a slightly smaller price tag, but at the same time, there are a lot worse games that can be had for the same price on Xbox Live Arcade, so there isn’t much to complain about.

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom was developed by The Odd Gentlemen and published by 2k Play.  Released on February 17th for $10 for Xbox Live Arcade.  Completed all story line levels and the first five time trial levels.  Unlocked 7 out of 12 achievements.  Was left humming the opening music theme and craving more pie.


About Kyle Hilliard
I used to be a freelancer. Now I write for Game Informer magazine. Someday, when the time is right, I will grow a mustache.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: