Gamer on a Budget #4 – The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
Reviewed by William LJ Galaini
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
Price: $4.99 on Steam/ $9.99 on Xbox live
Where: Steam and Xbox
Platform: PC, Xbox
The time honored tradition of side-scrolling platform puzzlers is fairly revered. We had inklings of it with the original Nintendo but it really exploded on the scene with a number of Sega Genesis games and today the genre might feel played out. Well, worry no more. Several games have recently cropped up in the indie scene and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is one of them. In fact, it might be the prime example, along with Braid and Shuggy, to truly challenge what we expect from a side-scrolling platform jumper.
The first thing that will strike you regarding The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is the tone of the game. Predominantly in black and white, the game feels much like a silent movie with text placards between scenes and a fantastic score of archaic theater music. The character design and settings also have a look strongly borrowed from Edward Gorey, presenting a dark yet playful mechanical world.
Presentation aside, what makes P.B. really stand out is it introduces two impressive, mind-bending mechanics. The first involves you producing clones of yourself and the second allows you to record said clones repeating an action you lay out for them. This… opens up amazing possibilities. You truly need to change your way of thinking here because you are no longer controlling a single character but instead coordinating a team of characters in a certain recorded order to attain a particular series of goals.
For example, one level may allow you to make three clones of yourself, and you ‘record’ yourself performing certain actions like pulling a lever here or jumping on a beam there. NOW, you move your ‘prime’ P.B. Winterbottom into place and watch your recorded clones cycle through their actions and you must time your steps smartly to proceed into the next scenario. Sometimes you need to stack clones to reach a high ledge, or knock a clone to its death merely to grab a hovering prize. This all gets very crazy very quickly.
Overall, this is clearly a brilliant labor of love. The Odd Gentlemen could have settled for implementing a single new gameplay mechanic, but they instead brought us two difficult ones that could be toyed with in almost countless ways. It also gives a surprising amount of freedom to the player, allowing them to experiment without being punished while attempting unorthodox solutions.
Why you would buy it:
The artwork has a ‘Mystery Theatre’ feeling
Freedom to tackle much of the games content in an order of your choosing
Why you would pass on it:
Animations on P.B. Winterbottom himself are weak
Not much variety in the background and setting
Recommended for: Platform gamers who want something they can’t beat in a weekend
This Gamer on a Budget review was originally published on the old Winterwind Productions site in September, 2013, prior to our switch to WordPress in 2020.