The puzzle's the thing in The Odd Gentlemen's time-twisting, brain-teasing platformer The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, a pie collecting adventure made fascinating by the eponymous Winterbottom and his superhuman ability to clone himself.
In The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, players control the umbrella-wielding Winterbottom and his many clones, which are recorded loops of the pie-hungry old man's actions. Players collect floating pies, which can be snatched by Winterbottom and his doppelgangers, to complete each level. When Winterbottom and his limited army of clones team up, whether to man opposite sides of a seesaw or to activate a switch to permit the original Winterbottom to pick up pies from behind locked doors, fascinating puzzle solving can happen.
Like P.B. Winterbottom's time-bending Xbox Live Arcade forebear Braid, the game experiments with its cleverly implemented clone-recording and playback mechanic liberally, making for a most rewarding—and often challenging—puzzle game.
A Charming Puzzler Wrapped In A Brilliant Mechanic: The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom sports a lovely and rarely implemented silent film aesthetic, filled with charmingly rendered characters and sepia-toned contraptions. In between levels, the story of Winterbottom and his obsession with pies are doled out via rhyming prose, a not too heavy handed tale of the cartoonish dessert lover. Developer The Odd Gentlemen keeps the game's recording and platforming mechanics fresh through the games 50-plus levels, tossing in new twists with each new chapter.
When P.B. Winterbottom Made Me Feel Smart: Many of P.B. Winterbottom's puzzles are smartly designed, taking advantage of the character's limited abilities. He can jump, he can float (thanks to his umbrella), he can record and play back his movements and he can whack clones (or be whacked by clones) by his umbrella, launching characters in a large arc. In most levels, it's the smart use of these tools—not necessarily expert timing—that makes solving puzzles so rewarding. And it is rewarding, making the player feel like quite the smartypants when discovering the solution to a puzzle.
When P.B. Winterbottom Made Me Feel Stupid: The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom suffers slightly from some uneven difficulty in its puzzles. It's not that too many are particularly hard, but that some are simply too easy and others are truly confounding. I found some of the game's levels just a bit too challenging, but smarter players will likely breeze through then come back to mock me. Beyond the main campaign, I felt little interest to move onto the real challenging stuff, the game's Bonus Shorts.
Like Braid, players should expect plenty of "Aha!" moments in The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, a fiendishly clever puzzle-platformer that makes great use of its premise throughout. To talk too much about some of the game's mechanics is to spoil some of the discovery, so I'll simply recommend this Xbox Live Arcade effort to anyone with a taste for flexing their gray matter in a fun, albeit brief puzzling adventure.
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom was developed by The Odd Gentlemen and published by 2K Play for the Xbox 360 on February 17. Retails for 800 Microsoft Points. A copy of the game was purchased for review purposes. Played through all movie levels, tried and failed to meet challenge requirements in a dozen of the game's Bonus Shorts.
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