Pinstripe is an atmospheric 2D story-driven adventure, with elements of: puzzle; metroidvania; physics; platforming – all produced by one talented man by the name of Thomas Brush.
Genre: 2D Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: Thomas Brush
Publisher: Armor Games
Release Date: 25 Apr, 2017
You play as Teddy, an ex-minister. At the start of the game his young daughter Bo is kidnapped by the sinister, bowler-hatted, glowing-eyed Pinstripe, and taken down into the depths of Hell. Teddy ventures down into the underworld in search of Bo, meeting and chatting to new characters, solving puzzles and minigames to open up new areas for exploration. His main tool for solving these challenges is a catapult (or slingshot, if you’re American) which can be shot accurately and/or rapidly to break things, activate objects in sequence or destroy enemies. It makes a satisfying THWACK! noise that never gets old.
You can play with keyboard/mouse but the controller configuration is very good, movements are easy and intuitive. I played with a Steam controller and the right touchpad suits the game nicely, although at times it can be frustrating to target things quickly. There is a minigame at one point where you have to shoot balloons as they appear. I tried in vain for ages to beat it with the controller, then I discovered the mouse option and beat it straight away. Silly me.
As you progress through the game you pick up ‘Frozen Drops’ which are added to your wallet and can eventually be used to purchase special items. The items cost huge numbers of drops, so you won’t get them all on the first playthrough – they essentially provide motivation to replay the game. You must also collect the 9 clues that are needed to complete the game and solve some of the main area-opening puzzles.
After your first playthrough you enter ADVENTURE PLUS! mode where you have the same world and repeat the same storyline with some modifications, but this time there are extra doorways and areas to explore, which were previously locked, and you should also amass enough Frozen Drops to purchase further special items such as clothing and weapons. I’m even more excited to play the second time as I was the first!
Sound & Vision
The whole thing is beautifully hand drawn in a very distinctive style – everyone has long spindly limbs and comical facial features. Colourful explosions and exquisite lighting add to the wow factor – the 3D clue items collected in your inventory can be spun around and catch the light wonderfully. I spent a fair amount of time just sitting there spinning these things around and admiring them.
The music throughout the game is extra special, and occasionally you find old-fashioned gramophones which you can activate to play some more lovely tunes – cool, haunting melodies that are well worth stopping for a while to appreciate in full.
The voice acting is second to none, done by professional and celebrity actors. I’m pretty sure the childish voice of Bo is done by the actress who played the Red Queen in the Resident Evil movies. Awesome.
Medium challenge. There’s enough brainwork needed to make it interesting but it’s never difficult to the point of frustration. Many of the puzzles involve shooting stuff with the slingshot but there are many different puzzle types, all of them engaging and gorgeous to look at. This is a game that constantly distracts you from your objectives with its sheer beauty and your urge to shoot everything in sight, just for the hell of it (see what I did there?)
It’s possible to die, if you get hit by too many projectiles. It says ‘Game Over’ but it’s not – you just respawn without any loss of progress or Frozen Drops.
Trading cards, 12 achievements which are hard to get – at the end of my first playthrough I had one. ONE. Steam Cloud, which is particularly useful for fully cross-platform games like this, which attract dual-booters like myself who appreciate being able to continue their game whichever OS they happen to be using at the time.
It is a comparatively short game. Others have said their first playthrough took 2-3 hours, and it can be speed-run in under an hour (there’s an achievement for this). I’m not ashamed to say that I savoured my first game at a leisurely pace for 10 hours, loved every wonderful minute, and am looking forward to further playthroughs. The top quality of every aspect of the game gives me no hesitation to recommend this at full price. It’s a must-buy.
Most good games are strong in one or two particular areas, for example many puzzlers I play are strong in challenge but weak in background music. Pinstripe stands out for me as a game that has been to the gym every day and honed every muscle – it didn’t skip leg day. The result is a game that feels like a privilege to play. Totally absorbing. A hot candidate for my GOTY.
Thoughts after my first playthrough: just… wow.