As video games go, we don’t often get to play the part of the villain. Sure, every now and then we’re given a dark character like, say, Nico Bellick from Grand Theft Auto 4 or Alex Mercer from Prototype who are so driven by revenge they’re willing to tell the world and everyone in it to get bent during their own personal crusade of wrath. But how often do you get to play as a 1920s era dapper scoundrel who is obsessed with finding and eating all of the pies that ever existed? The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom went on sale on Steam last week, and I’ve been slowly helping the lovable buttwit through level after level of pie consuming platforming.
The only problem here is that I’m apparently too dense to solve any puzzles ever.
The premise of this game is simple. The small town of Bakersburg is besieged by a scoundrel. Winterbottom loves pie. He can’t get enough of it. And in a place like Bakersburg, there are a lot of pies to be had. The earliest levels put us behind the nose of this single-minded villain as he literally tears a path of destruction through Bakersburg in search of pies to pilfer. Winterbottom is completely oblivious to the damage he’s causing to the town. Who cares if that lever gummed up the Bakersburg clock and set the bakery on fire? It’s PIE TIME.
But… then something weird happens. An enormous, magical pie appears! Winterbottom decides he wants to eat the shit out of that bitch, despite the fact that it is obviously not safe and possibly sentient. Before long, the elusive pie tears open a wormhole in time and space, and off Winterbottom goes with it, back through the scenes of devastation he had just caused. Of course, his journey back in time has given him the ability to somehow record and create time clones of his action, which ‘Bottom sees as a sign that he needs to eat more pie.
That’s… seriously all the plot. This is less of an adventure game and more of a puzzle game, which is unfortunate because it gets hard pretty fast. I’m not going to give a game a bad review simply because I can’t figure out what to do next, mind you. Things get pretty complicated.
By using clones, Winterbottom can get to higher platforms, record a clone to routinely smack a switch, or to run along a path and snag some pie. Eventually, Winterbottom will encounter areas where the pies are only obtainable by his clones, areas where his power will only work near portals, allowing him to record and interact with a massive number of clones, and areas where pies must be collected in a certain order (what kind of pie do you suppose that is? God, I’m getting hungry. Maybe I’ll go swing into town and pick up an apple pie. Apple is the best pie). The whole time, the floating magical time pie (again, what flavor is it!) will taunt Winterbottom into proceeding further and further, back in time to fix what he has done by… uh… collecting more pie.
The whole game is recorded in a charming 1920s era silent film style, complete with subtitles and still picture cut scenes between levels that help flush out Winterbottom’s character and highlight Bakersburg. Also, the music is kinda of addictive. The same track will play through one series of puzzles, so try not to let it invade your dreams.
If you’re into temporal puzzling, PB Winterbottom is a good choice for a game. If you’d rather stab a dude and destroy as much of a city as the game engine will allow, there are some other, more violent villains championing other games out there you can try. Personally, I thought Winterbottom’s quest for pie was charming. And, it’s also the first time I’ve played as a video game villain whose quest I could get behind 100 percent.
Pie is AMAZING.