Pinstripe is a successfully Kickstarted game from developer Atmos Games and publisher Armor Games. This is the second Kickstarter born game I’ve had the chance to review in the last few weeks with the other being Timothy vs. the Aliens – However, Pinstripe hit its initial goal of $28k within the first day the project went live. The game is an atmospheric puzzle-platformer that was created over the course of five years by one man, Thomas Brush, which presents us with moral choices, humorous dialogue, great voice acting, and beautiful environments.
So, with the console port arriving almost 10 months after the PC version, let’s see if it’s worth picking up.
Pinstripe opens with our protagonist Teddy, an ex-minister, and his three-year-old child, Bo, aboard a rickety train. Ted reminds me of Jack Skeleton from a Nightmare Before Christmas with his long, thin arms and legs along with his tall, slim body. Before long, Bo is taken from you by the sinister, yet impeccably dressed devil, who is the namesake of the game, Pinstripe. The train is now littered with floating balloons that are filled with oil, oil which causes anyone within its vicinity to become high and easy to manipulate.
Without a second glance, you follow Pinstripe into the frozen afterlife as you venture to find and rescue your daughter. Early on you will receive a sling-shot, your only defence against the sentient balloons and other monstrosities in the depths of hell. Ted must solve puzzles, collect frozen oil (the currency), perform a fair amount of platforming, and interact with the locals if he is to ever see his daughter again. the question is, what’s real and what a fantasy – what’s the truth behind Ted’s past and just who is the sleazy, demonic nemesis whom we know as Mr. Pinstripe?
The gameplay mechanics are fairly simple for an indie puzzle-platformer. You have the ability to run, jump, shoot with your sling-shot and that’s about it. The shooting mechanic is a little different though, you press the R2 button to ready your weapon, move the aiming cursor with the right stick and then tap R2 to fire. As you move, the aiming reticle stays where you placed it – this means if you are attacking the balloons then you can run around without having to constantly re-adjust your aiming. I found this a little strange, to begin with, but I thought it was really well done after using it a few times.
The game is more focused on telling a story than your usual gameplay – which isn’t a bad thing at all. The game appears to have a balance of the two but I feel the story comes across a lot more than the gameplay elements. The main objective of the game, for me, was discovering all of the hidden items and building up the story. Some of the items were sat there, in plain sight, whilst others were rewards for completing certain mini-games or buried under the snow. The game also has set puzzles such as combinations for chests and doors but you are unable to input the answer until you have discovered and seen the answer on an item first – so you can’t just rush to the end without experiencing it first – I also strongly suggest you play the game with no walkthrough or guide as it’s there to be experienced, not rushed.
The only downside in regards to the game is that I feel it’s too short. Your first playthrough will take about two hours with subsequent playthroughs being less than an hour due to certain benefits you get after you complete the game. There is a speed-run trophy to complete the game in under an hour – I think my second playthrough was about 40 minutes at most once you know what you are doing. In no way take this as a bad thing though – the story, the content and the overall package more than makes up for it, but I just wanted to make you aware of the length.
In regards to the mini-games – as this is a Puzzle-platformer, there are bound to be some puzzles in here for you. You will encounter puzzles such as a target shooting event, spot the difference, a reaction button tapping lock, flappy-bird style locks and some which I won’t go into so you can work them out for yourself. None of them was difficult and none of them requires you to think too hard about them but they were all well thought out and work really well within the game. I would have liked there to be more puzzles but for the length of the game, I feel there were plenty.
One of the stand out features, which I wasn’t expecting, was the inclusion of dialogue options. Not just multiple options of things to say, but a nice or sarcastic answer you can give to people. The story won’t change, and a few seconds later the dialogue is back to normal, but I still can’t get over how I told an old woman she smelt like pigeon farts and then when questioned about it by my talking dog, I just told him that I only said that because it was true, she smelt like farts. Depending on if you answered most people with the good option or the sarcastic one will change the ending slightly and bag you a different trophy on PSN – this means the game has instantly created a reason for you to replay the title.
As I briefly mentioned above, frozen oil is the currency of the afterlife and you will need a lot of it. On your first playthrough, you are literally forced to check and pick up every last one you find in order to progress further as they are limited in numbers. Throughout your game, you will see vendors from time to time who will try and sell you a coat for your dog, a pinstripe suit and even a machine gun. You literally won’t have enough frozen oil to purchase any of these on your first playthrough. None of these items are required for you to finish the game, but the machine gun, in particular, comes in handy towards various enemies. You can even unlock a ‘vintage mode’ if you find all five hidden films throughout the game – one of which I was only able to find on my fourth playthrough with the help of a guide.
Once you have completed the game for the first time, you have the option to go back and perform a kind of New Game+ mode. you keep whatever frozen oil you had left and you receive a key, a key which opens up three secret rooms full of oil. This means that on your second playthrough, you can purchase the machinegun, suit and coat – you can also take this as an opportunity to collect all of the butterflies for the second ending as well as possibly picking different dialogue options to unlock the trophy regarding that as well.
Graphically, I absolutely love Pinstripe! From the gorgeous backdrops to the interesting character design, the whole thing feels like an illustrated storybook. The use of the bright, bold colours contrasting with the characters who contain hardly any colour is a great effect – along with the creepy, atmospheric environments and settings. Everything is stylised and designed in such a cute yet terrifying way and you can really tell that the developer has poured a lot of love into this project. there are even a load of particle effects like birds, lights that wobble or go out when you get near them, snowflakes, and even out of focus objects in the foreground which gives the game an extra layer of depth.
Sound-wise I’m lost for words. I’ve only just found out that the voices are well-known YouTubers such as PewDiePie and JackSepticEye – yet the voice acting was great! It all sounded professionally done, it sounded clear and crisp and nothing was phoned-in. There is another popular game that came out a few years back that used YouTubers as voice actors and the acting in that was terrible, this is why I was genuinely surprised when I realised these were also YouTubers. On top of that, Thomas also created all of the music within the game which is dark, creepy, terrifying yet also mellow and relaxing in parts. I’m going to pick up the album for the game soon as well over on the official Bandcamp site as I’ve had it on whilst writing this and you know how much of a sucker I am for great soundtracks.
Pinstripe is an amazing little game that I’ve played through four times so far. The narrative had me in tears with laughter at times due to the humour and laugh out loud moments – when you pick up the game look in the mirror a few times and talk to your child. The gameplay aspect is nice and simple with decent puzzles thrown into the mix to spice things up and keep the gameplay diverse. The graphics and the soundtrack are great and really work well with the story the dev was trying to tell. The game may be a little pricey at the moment for the amount of gameplay you get, but personally, I feel it’s fully justified as I had more enjoyment out of the 4-5 hours I’ve spent in this world that I have in games which I’ve spent about 30+ hours in so far.
- Really interesting story
- Great artistic style and soundtrack
- Really good voice acting from popular YouTubers
- Perfect mix of platforming and puzzles
- Very funny narrative
- Game is a little short (1.5-2 hours on first play, less than 1 for subsequent ones)
- The puzzles are quite easy