The Misadventures of P.B Winterbottom

We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen a pie we’ve really, really wanted. I’m not sure we’ve ever chased this pie – a magical, mysterious, glowing pie – across the rooftops and into a time portal just because we couldn’t resist the lure of it’s well-glazed pastry. But then, we’re not P.B Winterbottom, notorious thief of pastry based products.

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom finds you in the role of the titular waddling Victorian cobbler robber – a man for whom every pie is his for the taking. Your story unfolds, through poetic Dr Seuss-like prose, as you sink your teeth into the pies spread across the various puzzle strewn levels until your eyes fall upon the most magnificent pie – a Chronoberry pie, no less – and your pursuit of pastry leads you into a series of time-bending puzzles that would make Doctor Who stop and scratch his head. The introductory levels give you a break down of the controls, as you’d expect, and for the first few levels everything is fairly straight forward – there are switches and springboards to negotiate in your quest for pies aplenty. It’s only when you fail to heed the warnings and break the town’s clock in your greed that strange things happen. The chronoberry pie appears and the whole of time goes a little bit, well, wonky.

It’s here that the game comes alive. The pie has given you time-bending powers. By holding down the right trigger you can record yourself carrying out an action. Release the trigger and a blue clone will do what you just did. With clever use of the clone you can then reach places you wouldn’t be able to get to. A ledge that’s too high? Record yourself at the bottom and use yourself as an extra platform. Still too high? Record yourself again and climb on up. Each level has a limit to the number of active clones you are permitted, try and make more than you’re allowed and your oldest clone will disappear. You can hit your clones, and they soar through the air (although they don’t like to be hit and will fade away when the land, offering a sad wave as they do so) or you can record yourself striking out so the clone will hit you. Anything you can do the clones, through your recordings, can do. It’s a ridiculously simple premise and it creates a mind-bender of a game in the process – especially as you’ll revisit previous levels to carry out actions that you thought happened automatically the first time you played the level. Frankly it’s insane.

The game presents itself in the style of an old, flickery black-and-white movie – in fact the individual chapters are referred to as movies, and when you record yourself for cloning the screen mimics an old film strip. The misty Victorian backdrop is sprinkled with detail, there are Heath Robinson style contraptions moving behind the action or stars are twinkling in a blackened sky, while cardboard waves, well, wave.  The old movie theme is very well realised – the graphics are grainy and often have the characteristic marks and scratches you’d see in an old film. This, coupled with the poetic level intros and the atmospheric musical score – a kind of Buster Keaton-esque musical piece underpinned with, for want of a better expression, time-related sounds (rhythmic ticking and the striking of bells) creates something that seems more robust and well-formed that you’d often find on the Arcade

The game is a purely single player affair, although you’ll be co-operating with yourself for the most part, which takes place over five “movies”. Completing each of these unlocks a series of bonus scenes filled to bursting with pies. These are time trials – collect all the pies within a certain length of time and you unlock the medal for the level. Not content with the time element, you’re also given a medal if you can complete the level in the suggested number of recordings – that is to say, how many clones you use. These bonus rounds, along with quite a few of the story levels are incredibly fiendish and while the story levels allow you time to plot your actions – there are no time restraints at all – the bonus levels really have you thinking on your feet and may take a good few tries to crack in their entirety. I was quite chuffed to fluke the par number of recordings on the first bonus level, but it was downhill from there… prepare for your brain to hurt, but for you not to care.







2 responses to “The Misadventures of P.B Winterbottom”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I didn’t know what king of game this was but it sounds like my kind of thing. As I read about the blue clones, I started thinking about that world of Braid that used that particular time control. I’m glad I read this. Thanks Jake.

  2. Jake avatar

    I didn’t even mention the evil red ones….

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