Pinstripe is the five year ‘passion project’ of Thomas Brush, owner of Atmos Games. Brush used a Kickstarter in 2016 to raise enough money to be able to quit his job and work on his game full time. His goal was $28,000. He raised over $100,000. With the exception of voice acting, every other aspect of the game was created by Brush himself.
Release Date: 7th February 2018 (25th April 2017 on Steam, 13th February 2018 on PS4)
Price: £11.99 on Xbox One, £10.99 on Steam, £11.59 on PS4
Size: 1.4 GB
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle
Reviewed on: Xbox One, also available on Steam and PS4
The story is the absolute crux of a game like Pinstripe. The gameplay really takes a step back in order to allow the player get through each of the game’s six areas without ever feeling like they’re stuck. You play as Teddy, or Ted as most characters call him, as he takes a train journey with his young daughter Bo. The game has ominous tones from the beginning, none more ominous that the mysterious Mr Pinstripe. He is also a passenger on the train and takes a peculiar interest in Bo. The train crashes and when Ted awakes it appears that Mr Pinstripe has taken his daughter.
The train appears to crash into a small town, but some sort of magical influence seems to be exerted by Pinstripe. It appears that he twists the environment to be darker and more twisted as you progress. It turns out it isn’t a small town but the underworld, Hell itself, where Mr Pinstripe has taken Bo. The games dark tone is balanced by a cast of lighthearted characters that all aim to help Ted throughout his journey, or hinder him with objectives that involve finding a certain object. These character’s nature often breaks the game’s immersion. The jokes fall flat and can really ruin the tension created by the unsettling environment or undermine the gravitas of Ted’s quest. However, Mr Pinstripe shines in his role as villain. It is difficult to further discuss the story without spoilers, as you reveal more and more of the player character and his nemesis’ peculiar histories the game gets darker and darker. When the game truly addresses adult themes it shines. Confrontations between Ted and Pinstripe and the reveals that follow are the stand out moments that really bring the environment to life.
Progressing throughout the game is relatively simple for the most part. The jumping is very floaty which makes the platforming sections easier as it is not reliant on quick timing or precision. Despite the game being pretty easy, some sections tend to feel overly long and tedious. These involve backtracking to collect certain objects or longer platforming levels. You’ll never get stuck and you’ll always know exactly where you’re going though. There is some combat involving firearms which works well, the right stick aims and you pull the trigger to shoot. At first it feels imprecise but it very quickly feels natural.
The strange puzzles really suit the world that the game is trying to make you believe in. As you search every corner of every level you’ll come across numerous little secrets, some of which will play into the larger narrative and you’ll know to return to solve a particular conundrum soon. Overall the gameplay really only exists to get you from point A to point B and it succeeds in doing this without ever making me want to drop the controller and quit. This is essentially a 2D walking simulator with platforming sections and the game does a great job of making the story worthy of making your way through these boring levels.
Graphics and Sound
Pinstripe is absolutely beautiful. If 2017’s Cuphead was a love letter to early animation then this a love letter to Tim Burton’s patented brand of gothic horror. The backdrops are stunning and the level of detail is breathtaking. Every character has a similar tall, gangly, thin limbs, rectangle body aesthetic but still manages to feel unique. Lights in the background really seem to shine and little messages throughout the levels give you clues to what is really going on. It really takes what you would expect from the setting and gives it a twist with some extra flair. The frozen wasteland should feel out of place but never does.
A second play through reveals several things you thought you’d missed first time round simply by paying more attention to the backdrop. The music doesn’t fare so well. You would expect something more dark and ominous, instead it bops along with a Christmas holiday vibe. It feels very upbeat for a game this dark. The sound effects are much better. The voice acting has a creepiness to it, unfortunately betrayed by some silly, childish dialogue. The wind howling and creaking really adds to the creepy atmosphere. It’s just a shame the overall musical tone is more focused on adventure and exploration than horror and tension.
Ted’s journey through Hell to save his daughter from the evil Mr Pinstripe is truly a harrowing experience that will evoke true emotions from the player. The game’s story is touching but also feels harshly real and relevant to the modern world. The game never feels like it’s trying to preach a message despite the main character being a Preacher, instead it wants you to get invested in the story as much as possible in order to empathize with the protagonist as you play. This is not a great game by any means, however it is an experience that will stick with you. You’ll really remember not just the resolution but the journey there, especially considering it only took around three hours to beat.
- Beautifully realized world
- Emotional story
- Scary villain
- Dark themes really work
- Silly dialogue
- Music doesn't fit the tone
- Boring gameplay