Based on its simplistic graphics and whimsical soundtrack some may mistake Pinstripe for a charming indie game targeted at children, but delve into the narrative and it suddenly becomes clear that Pinstripe is rooted in dark themes.
This indie which is presented as a 2D platformer is also heavily laden with puzzle elements. The narrative of Pinstripe unravels when Ted, an ex priest boards a train with his young daughter Bo. Overwhelmed by curiosity Bo wanders cabin to cabin, leading her father through different sections of the sleeper, whilst most carriages are empty one contains a sinister man, drenched in shadow and followed by eerily disturbing atmosphere.
It is here we are introduced to the game’s antagonist Pinstripe and his intentions which will fuel the narrative of the game. Pinstripe’s abduction of Bo leads Ted to Hell where he must solve puzzles, befriend the worlds wacky residents and race against time to save his daughter.
Each screen represents a new challenge for Ted to overcome and while you can only move to the left or right there’s enough intricacy in each individual level to hint at a vast amount of intricacy, backtracking and secrets to be uncovered in later proportions of the game. Locked doors with no keys in sight are prominent at the start of the game as well as blocked off roads hinting that with a better set of skills and a more fruitful inventory, treasures can be uncovered if you decide to return.
It’s a delight to explore the environment as well as soak in the graphics which are simplistic yet effective in conveying the horror of the story. Dimly lit cave’s have been re-purposed as dungeons, terrifying monsters hellbent on attacking Ted roam the snowy wilderness and an uneasy atmosphere radiates throughout this story book narrative.
Puzzles dominate Pinstripe and while most of these are easily solved they add a sense of depth to the indie. These puzzles follow a similar pattern which revolve around helping the troubled residents of Hell and restoring functions to machinery around the world. The simple nature of these numerous puzzles leaves the focus at all times be heavily set on the narrative, which is what Pinstripe deserves.
Pinstripe has a relatively short running time with and can be easily completed under the two hour mark, though some may critique its short duration the pacing perfectly complements the desperate race against time to save Bo from Pinstripe’s clutches. Even in two hours Ted’s journey through Hell takes him to a variety of locations, each as unique as the one before and even backtracking segments are enjoyable as they reveal new secrets, weapons and story components.
The one negative I will report about Pinstripe is the rare collection missions which severely halt the flow of the game, breaking apart the tension and atmosphere which slowly builds throughout this quirky indie. Frozen gems are the currency in this world and although it’s rare that you’ll need to purchase items the times you’re low on money leave you scrounging though previous areas, desperately cobbling up any gems you can find. When compared to the rest of the game this negative is a mere drop in the ocean but it’s execution could be ironed out for consistently enjoyable gameplay.
Rounding out the atmosphere of Pinstripe is the fantastic voice acting. The tension of the game is heavily influenced by the eerie echoed voice of Pinstripe himself and players are moved by Bo’s desperate cries for help. It’s a small touch, but the power voice acting has on the overall tone of Pinstripe is worth noting and celebrating.
Pinstripe is the result of one man’s passionate attempt to create a whimsical tale which sits shoulder to shoulder with other highly regarded indie titles. Pinstripe not only matches the success of these games but in some cases surpasses them by delivering a clean cut adventure, one which is hard to forget and easy to recommend.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*