|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Odd Gentlemen||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Play||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 17, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Kyle B. Stiff
Winterbottom would be fairly weak as a platformer. Thankfully, jumping from ledge to ledge and falling into bottomless pits is not what Winterbottom is about. Instead, it's a puzzle game that happens to be dressed up with a little jumping between point A and point B. You play as P. B. Winterbottom, a compulsive criminal whose greed knows no bounds, and he uses his time-manipulating abilities to puzzle his way through a world of darkness in order to steal pies.
These are not normal pies, of course. Each world is host to its own pies, and its own rules, and Winterbottom will have to "record" himself, and then interact with his recorded time-clones, in order to clear each stage. Strange, I know. If Mario is the Average Joe of video games, then Winterbottom is for the Mensa gamer who prefers characters like Professor Xavier over Wolverine. Winterbottom is a classy, thinking man's game with a lot of macabre whimsy thrown in for good measure.
Each world is divided into small stages, which can be long or short depending on the length of time it takes the player to stumble onto an epiphany and overcome the seemingly impossible riddle that each stage presents. Each world has its own rules and conditions for victory, but each world is usually kind enough to give the player a few warm-up stages to get used to its peculiarities.
Like all good puzzle games, Winterbottom often subverts its own rules, challenging you to test what you thought was possible in the game. Each stage is an IQ test condensed into its purest form. There were plenty of times when I laid the controller aside and simply stared at the screen, desperate to throw together a plan that would accomplish the impossible. Thankfully, even though each stage has its own time limit of sorts, the time limit does not kick in until you make your first move. There are no limited number of lives, and Winterbottom can "die" as many times as you need him to do so. There is only THE WALL, and THE WALL is the limit of your ability to figure out the next puzzle.
And be warned, you will hit THE WALL many, many times.
The graphics have been described by some as reminiscent of Edward Gorey's macabre inking style, which was a heavy influence on Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (or anything cartoonishly gothic for that matter). I think Winterbottom's graphics are a little too clean to be Gorey, though the artistic direction definitely has a childish sense of emptiness and nihilism about it. Winterbottom looks like he lives in a world that has already ended. It's a bleak place straight out of a Tool music video, but it's mixed with a silent film version of Spongebob Squarepants.