Dealing with grief, and loss, is something that almost everyone will experience in their lifetime, yet it’s one of the hardest things we will have to deal with. It’s a process that tears us apart, and eventually people can be engulfed in their grief. Pinstripe is a game that illustrates this very sensitive event, and does it in a truly fantastic way.
Pinstripe is a 2D sidescroller platformer developed by Atmos Games, and published by Serenity Forge. You play as an ex-minister, Ted, who must go through his own version of hell, to rescue his daughter, Bo.
We start on a train during the winter, where we first meet the monstrous figure, Pinstripe. Pinstripe kidnaps Bo, and takes her away, leaving Ted alone in an unknown world. You will travel through 6 different levels throughout the entirety of your journey, and they all do a fairly good job at differentiating themselves.
Along the way, you will meet characters that will help Ted, and some that will simply just be there to add to the game’s narrative. The characters even have voice-acted lines, which are done by a list of interesting people (one being one of my favorite Youtubers, NateWantsToBattle). Voice acting in games sometimes doesn’t work so well, but each characters voice is very fitting, and makes them feel unique.
One of the characters who will stick with you throughout your entire journey, is your dog Georgie. Georgie, is also able to dig up items that you will need from certain paw marked spots on the ground. He also acts as your voice when examining items. Having Georgie follow you is a nice addition, because it gives you a companion, from the outset, who you already have an emotional connection with (since he is your dog).
You will have a few encounters with Pinestripe, before you make it to the final area “Red Wash”, where he resides. Pinestripe’s character does a great job at making himself feel evil, and motivates you to want to defeat him. He’s constantly belittling you, calling you names, and generally just angering you. When you finally reach him, you’ll have a boss fight, where, once you defeat him *SPOILER ALERT*
You can finally go to heaven, to be reunited with your daughter.
Pinestripe’s story was fantastic, and did a great job at showing you Ted’s grief towards his, and his daughter’s death, and how he was able to overcome it. I won’t say much more about the story because I want it to be experienced, and not completely spoiled. All I can say is, pay attention to the items that you collect, they help piece this amazing story together.
There are only a few different enemies you will fight during your journey, and you will do it by shooting them with a slingshot. The slingshot was a pretty cool weapon, and it made the combat pretty easy. I found that the easy fights didn’t take away from Pinstripe, since it’s more of a narrative game. Overall, combat was nice, but it would have been better to see a little more variety in the enemies. There’s also a secondary weapon you can get, probably on your second playthrough, but I won’t spoil that here.
Besides combat, and some platforming, there are a few puzzles scattered over each of the levels. There are a few different ones, such as a “find the differences” picture puzzle, and spinning a lock and trying to light up all the buttons before one turns off.
The puzzles were okay, but, it honesty felt as nothing more than a way to add more time to the game, and I found that they could have easily been replaced by a mini boss, perhaps, or frankly anything else.
There are few extras that can be found in Pinstripe. One of the main collectibles are the frozen drops, which are needed to buy a few of the other collectibles. They’re found throughout all of the levels, and are used to buy a lift ticket, which is needed to progress. They can also be used to buy stuff like outfits for you, and Georgie. The only problem with them, is how difficult they can be to find. It takes a lot to be able to get everything, and warrants at least another playtrough where, even then, you will have to keep your eyes out for every little drop.
There are also 5 film strips, and a ton of little mushrooms, you can collect as well. If you get all 5 film strips, you will unlock a vintage (black & white) mode. Subsequently, the mushrooms will make your slingshot faster for each one you obtain.
There’s also a new game + mode, which the game encourages you to play. You will definitely have to do another playtrough, if you want to be able to unlock everything Pinstripe has to offer.
When you do complete the game, you will receive a golden key. When you get one of these, you can go back, and open a new room. These new rooms are kind of cool, and add a little to the story. There’s also an alternative ending you can see, that is dependent on some dialogue choices. This alternative ending doesn’t add much to warrant the dialogue options, however.
Pinstripe has a beautifully hand crafted world, that pays homage to classic children’s animated films (you know the one’s that come on during Halloween). The levels each have their own unique look, and the way they are laid out flows very well.
Each level has different platforms, and elements that does a great job at distinguishing themselves. For example one level is very dark, and will require the use of a headlamp, while another shows off the winter scenery in an isolated forest. The contrast between each of the levels is fantastic, and I had a great time travelling through each one.
The characters are all well designed, and look exactly what I envisioned the people in this world should look like. Each of their designs feels very fitting with their character.
Pinstripes sound design was entrancing. The sound design mixed really well with the games environment. The sound design was fantastsic! The sorrowing feelings, in Pinstripes soundtracks were a perfect way to add to the games theme of dealing with grief. Each track never felt like it dragged on too long.
Pinstripe had very few technical flaws throughout my playthrough. It played perfectly, both in handheld, and docked mode, with no noticeable frame drops.
Loading times weren’t too long, and the transitions worked well in both handheld, and docked mode.
Controlling Ted worked well, for the most part. There are a few platforming segments that took a couple tries, but nothing out of the ordinary in a platformer. The only thing I did notice was the slingshot could be a little hard to aim, at times. This wasn’t a big deal for most of the game, but there were a few times where you had to be pretty precise with your shooting, and it was a little difficult.
Pinstripe was one of those games that I walked away from, feeling really happy that I was able to play it. The story was compelling, and made me really connect with how Ted was feeling. It was a grief filled adventure that ended in a way that felt very rewarding.
What Ted’s journey really showed me, was that we shouldn’t hide from our grief. We have to chase after it, and take it on, no matter how scary and difficult it might be.
Pinstripe was great, and only falls short in a few areas such as it’s slingshot controls, and flawed dialogue system. The last thing that I feel is important to mention is that Pinstripe is a short game. One playthrough will take roughly 2-3 hours, with new game plus taking another hour or two.
If short, narrative rich games aren’t for you, Pinstripe may not be your journey to take. That being said, if you want a great story, set in an environment rich world, then Pinstripe is the game for you. Pinstripe is a fantastic narrative work that I will remember for some time.
Beautifully Crafted World
Fantastic Sound Design
Well Told Narrative
Great Level Design
Flawed, and unnecessary Dialogue System
Touchy Slingshot Controls
Hard to Collect Enough Frozen Drops to Get Everything