By Mento 6 Comments
28/05/12 - Game #24
The source: The 3rd Humble Indie Bundle
The pre-amble: PB Winterbottom is an inveterate pie-snatcher who gets entangled in the machinations of some sort of magical pie deity that gives him the power to create clones of himself that respond to a pre-recorded set of commands. So yeah, it's a puzzle platformer. Someone please snatch my monocle as it launches from my face in sheer incredulity, as they're expensive to replace.
The playthrough: I was actually a little surprised at how graphically intensive this game is. The whole gimmick is that the ostentatiously-named PB Winterbottom exists in a bleak cinematic world that evokes the likes of George Méliès and Fritz Lang, or perhaps a less pretentious comparison. There's obvious film-grain (and sprockets appear whenever you're "recording" for a new clone) and uneven, surreal topography throughout. There's also the clear link to Edward Gorey's whimsical grimness, but I think I've prevaricated enough on references I shouldn't be able to make with an education as poor as mine. Point is, I didn't think that style necessarily required such a severe drain on my system's graphical ability to recreate. It really goes above and beyond for an Indie platformer where you eat all the pies.
As such, it had the unfortunate effect of slowing the game to a crawl. Not the jerky crawl of a low frame-rate, just the interminable "I know I need to get over here to solve this puzzle, but it seems I must wait for the game to catch up" type. I know I shouldn't put down a game for being too much for my PC to handle, as it would limit the number of games I can be positive about to just Minesweeper, but it's cancer for a puzzle platformer; not just because it's hard to accurately traverse a level when you're moving slower than molasses (in January!), but because any eagerness to follow up on a new notion to solve a puzzle that's been causing you some consternation dissipates as you slowly make your way to where you can put it into effect. I guess it's hard to describe precisely why this is so aggravating, but we'll say it's like having the next five steps of a chess game in your head and your opponent taking so long that you've forgotten what your grand plan was, leading to you throwing away your bishop in a dumb ambush due to the resultant mental fatigue. But whatever, that's probably more my early-onset Alzheimer's talking than a legitimate criticism.
Another annoying thing is that the game moves at a crawl Nope, not going to draw from the Alzheimer's humor well. Instead I'll end this by saying I'm not done with Sir Winterbottom by a long shot. While I've seen the "use clones to solve puzzles in a puzzle platformer" format before in free-ware Kongregate games (though that's not to say PB Winterbottom didn't come across the idea first), it has some bizarre narrative disjointedness going on that I find intriguing and I do like the trope of the infeasibly agile portly platformer protagonist. A weak excuse to stick with it, perhaps, but stick with it I shall nonetheless do.
The verdict: Sure. After I upgrade this PC, mind, otherwise that torpid pace will drive me insane.