It appears that we see games like Pinstripe pop up every week, especially with the indie scene booming more and more. We are constantly seeing 2D side-scrollers all the time, as it seems to be a genre that generates a lot more titles than many others do. I personally feel that it has gotten to a point where there are possibly too many of them now and I just want something a little different. What is odd then, is even though Pinstripe doesn’t break any new ground when it comes to its genre, nor is it anywhere near best of its class, it was a game that I felt was so intriguing that I simply could not stop playing. Again, it has its downfalls and, for sure, it won’t be the best game you play this year, but it’s still a title that’s well worth your time.
Pinstripe is the creation of one man, Thomas Brush, and, after playing the final product, it is quite an astonishing achievement. It has so many good qualities that it doesn’t seem possible that just one person has created this. In many ways, it puts other titles that are made by a huge team of people to shame. What was easily apparent to me is I could tell how dedicated Thomas was with his game and how much love he put into it. This aspect clearly shines throughout.
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much going for Pinstripe in the story department as it seems like it might be a rather generic story to fill in the gaps, but this changes, quickly. I am hesitant to speak too much about the story more than I would usually, as I would say it is what intrigued me the most. You play as Teddy, a former minister who has recently abandoned his priesthood, as he wakes up on a train with his daughter Bo. A rather strange and shady man called Pinstripe veers his head and unexpectedly kidnaps Bo, leading Ted to give chase. Again, I am not going to say much more than this, but things do get even darker as you progress. What I will say, however, is the story in Pinstripe will stick with me for some time, which is all I ask of any game that preferences story over anything else. So on that note, it’s a job well done in my eyes.
Gameplay consists of basic platforming, which is both a good thing and bad. Good in the sense that it is easy to pick up and play, even if you’re not somebody who plays games a lot. It also allows other elements to take centre stage, such as the story and characters. Contrary to that, some will see that as a bad thing as it can be overly simple at times, there are no big action scenes and everything is done at a relatively slow pace. I would find it hard to tell you any platforming sections that have difficult to make jumps or take multiple tries to get past. The hardest mechanic in the game to nail down is the slingshot, which you need to aim with a reticule in order to fire but even this is rudimentary stuff. The slingshot brings in simple combat elements too, as it is required to defeat enemies, but none of them pose a great threat to begin with. It has to be said that there is a limited amount of skill required in order to make it through the game, but again, this is up to preference whether it’s a good or bad aspect.
There is a fair amount of backtracking involved in Pinstripe and any momentum that was created, can be quickly halted by it. It never killed it completely for me, but it is a shame that it happens, as I think that a few extra smaller areas in between would eliminate the problem. There are a few puzzles which stick out to me that involve having to backtrack, the main one sees you roaming around areas you have already been to with Teddy’s dog George, searching for clues that he then needs to dig up. When all you want to do is progress the story to find out what will happen next, the last thing you want to be doing is wandering around aimlessly.
As you traverse through the game, you will come across all kinds of strange characters and, while there isn’t an abundance of voice acting, what is there is surprisingly high quality. Each character’s voice fits nicely and it helps give some extra life and personality to some of them you encounter. It is great to see not just the variation in each character, but also how they all feel like they belong in this world. The overall music is quite impressive also and fits very well with the game’s overall theme. You won’t be humming along during your commute, but that’s not the point here, as it helps create a rather disheartening and gloomy atmosphere, in the best way possible. It is a visually impressive game too, not in terms of fidelity, but its artistic direction is fantastic and imaginative. It is a very unique looking game, but one that fits perfectly for its theme and helps it shine. It’s stunning hand-drawn environments ooze charm, but somehow also manage to convey a sense of eeriness and uneasiness for the player. Some of the smaller details on view outshine some of those games that have a much bigger budget.
As you would expect, Pinstripe isn’t a long game by any means, but I found that to actually be a positive aspect. The five hours it took me to finish the game was more than enough and unless a new mechanic was brought in that switched things up a bit, I think it would outstay its welcome and probably tarnish the overall experience in the end. I don’t think I would have wanted it to keep going on as it was for another few hours because I had already seen all I had wanted from it and the game ended when I wanted it to.
Pinstripe is a game that isn’t without its problems. For me, what kept me going was the story and the characters. It feels like it’s a game that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do and doesn’t try to be anything more. Its simple gameplay might put some off, as will some of the dodgy design flaws such as the backtracking that takes place, but stick with it and you will find an adventure that will stay with you for a long time to come.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Serenity Forge