Boy, do I have a good one for you today. You can thank me later. The gem at hand is the wonderful game, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, developed by the folks over at The Odd Gentlemen. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom follows one P.B. Winterbottom and his time traveling quest for pies.P.B. Winterbottom is a large snouted, well-dressed patrician with an unending hunger for pies. So, of course, the game has the player in Mr. Winterbottom’s shoes, going from level to level (or scene to scene, as the game describes them), solving puzzles that involve collecting pies. The levels themselves consist of switches, seesaws, and bottomless caverns (unless you fall into them! buh-dun-dun!). The number of actions that Mr. Winterbottom can perform is limited to moving left and right, jumping, smacking something with his umbrella, using his umbrella to float, and, oh yeah, creating time clones of himself. The clones are the most interesting and fun part of the game that I’ve played so far. You simply hold down Left Shift to “record” Winterbottom and release the key to begin the playback. The cloned Winterbottom will perform the action(s) in an endless loop. The kicker? The clones can interact with the world, each other, and Winterbottom (current time Winterbottom, that is). So you can record Winterbottom standing on a ledge next to some pies, then smack the clones off the ledge to collect dangling pies. Or you can stand on a seesaw and clone yourself, then go to the other side and jump, causing a spring effect that will give you extra height. Or you can just clone yourself and climb on top of your own head. I’ve only completed the first episode and I’m very excited to see what kind of devious puzzles the designers have in store for me. The gameplay reminds me very much of Braid, another excellent indie game that you should try out if you haven’t already. But the mechanics themselves are merely a part of what makes The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom so fun; the art direction is also highly stylized and cool. The game also boasts a unique, style, reminiscent of early silent films, complete with flickering and film grain. All of the game’s colors are muted grays and black, which give it a nice “old” feel. The exception to this is the pies, which are warm golden brown and glowing, so much so that they make me a little hungry. The art style is whimsical and fun, with buildings looking like they probably shouldn’t be able to stand up. Between scenes the player is presented with poetry and wonderful illustrations that advance the story into further zaniness. It’s absolutely beautiful. The music too, fits the mood perfectly with a strange mix of winds and piano and feels like the soundtrack to a silent film.
What impresses me so much about The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom was how refined the entire experience is. The graphics are memorable, the story is silly, the gameplay is interesting, the music is catchy. There is no aspect of the game that feels half-done; everything is well thought out and well executed. While I’ve only played the game for about half an hour or so, it has already been worth the $5 price of admission and I am definitely going to go through the entire game. This game really shows that what I’d highly recommend it to anyone is a fan of silliness, pies, or great games. Seriously, just go onto Steam and buy it.