Hell, is it me you’re looking for?
The fruit of five years’ labor for its oneman development team, Pinstripe’s prominent billing as ‘an adventure about Hell’ pretty much stabs its plot twist in the back. You’ll see this one coming a mile off, but that’s not to say the journey isn’t worthwhile.
It’s the story of Ted, a preacher who pursues his three-year-old daughter into the underworld after she’s abducted by the creepy Mr Pinstripe. Wearing a dog collar (and accompanied by an actual dog), Ted explores a bizarre but decidedly unthreatening parallel dimension where the locals are kept stupefied on Mr Pinstripe’s ‘sack juice’ as they await the ceremonial adoption of Ted’s little girl into their strange community.
Whether or not you’ll care that much about what happens to them seems unlikely. The difficulty level is very low, presumably to allow players to fully engage with the plot rather than worry about whether or not they’ll be able to finish it, but it’s not sufficiently well written to push the game along at any decent pace. With no fear of failure and no real surprises or compelling characters to interact with, there’s a disappointing lack of tension.
I have a daughter of the same age as the one in the game, and since she was born I’ve noticed I just don’t have the constitution for any kind of stories where bad things happen to small people. However, after steeling myself for the opening abduction scene, I found that Pinstripe didn’t wind me
“It weighs in at well under two hours for a first playthrough”
up as I’d expected it to. The sight of some gangly-legged vicar bouncing on cartoon mushrooms while being followed by a talking dog served to thoroughly dispel the requisite sense of dread that might have helped me empathize with Ted’s plight. If anything, it could have done with being darker and more depressing— Hell seems too comical in Pinstripe.
In terms of gameplay and art style it’s reminiscent of Limbo, while the plot brings to mind The Sexy Brutale, but Pinstripe lacks the ingenuity and polish of either of those two. It’s a straightforward 2D platformer with unconvincingly floaty, slippery physics, and only one mildly challenging jump during the game.
It’s also very short, weighing in at well under two hours for a first playthrough, and this despite it forcing you to backtrack all the way to the start to scavenge for coins at around the halfway mark. There’s a safecracking mini-game that plays like a 20-second snippet of Flappy Bird, a spot-the-differences picture puzzle and a reaction test where you have to stop some spinning lights, each of which you’ll be treated to three times.
The padding is wholly unnecessary, as I actually preferred playing Pinstripe a second time, in ‘adventure plus’ mode. After finishing it once you get a golden key that unlocks three treasure rooms, providing enough cash to cut out the backtracking section, avoid some of the minigames and replace the standard slingshot with a machine gun. With Father Ted tooled up and many of the superfluous parts of the game stripped away, you can blast through for the achievement on offer for finishing it in under an hour. Enemies wither under your firepower and the final boss lasts seconds, which is satisfying payback for having to suffer his taunts the first time around.
right Arriving at Mr Pinstripe’s lair, but is Ted in time to rescue his daughter?