08th Nov2018

Digital Shorts: ‘Pinstripe’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Pinstripe – a new narrative puzzle platformer available now on the Nintendo Switch.

pinstripe-screen

A platform adventure set in a gothic town populated with spidery-limbed characters a la The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pinstripe revels in a rich, haunting atmosphere with a creaking sound-track to boot, although the simplistic puzzles mean that this is a game that favours narrative over challenge and so may put off people looking for a lengthy, serious challenge.

Pinstripe begins with the player character, Ted and his daughter, Bo on a train which crashes in a snowdrift, resulting in Bo being taken by the evil entity of the town, Pinstripe (chocolatey of voice and oh-so sharp of suit). Following these events, the game then unfolds as Ted tries to rescue his daughter from Pinstripe’s evil clutches, making his way through the strange town, surrounding caves eventually ending up in Pinstripe’s domain.

The visual style of the game is easily one of the highlights, there’s a morose darkness that permeates throughout Pinstripe and bleeds into the melancholic soundtrack. The voice acting is also top notch with each line delivered with twisted glee from each of the odd denizens of this strange world. I found myself reminded of the works of Neil Gaiman as Ted conversed with people ranging from shadowed, elderly shopkeepers to a scatter-brained elderly couple and the other kooky folks that make up the rest of the cast.

The challenge from the game comes in some respects from the occasional enemy (you can die but there really isn’t a drawback as you just restart, as is the case should you fall off the screen in the platforming sections) but more so from the puzzles scattered throughout the game. The puzzles range from simple button-presses to ‘buzz-off’ style mini-games and combination locks. Only one had me stumped for any real length of time and a full walkthrough can be found on the games’ website, emboldening the fact that this is a game to be played through to the end for its narrative thrust and atmosphere, story before toughness is the order of the day and I feel this works to Pinstripe’s advantage.

I don’t want to give too much away from the story but whilst it is told in a relatively unique way, it is a familiar tale that we have seen before in games such as Papo & Yo and Among the Sleep although with enough personality of its own and with enough emotional resonance to stand by itself.

If you enjoy games with atmosphere then Pinstripe should scratch that itch. However be aware that, due to the aforementioned focus on the unfolding story, the platforming elements and, to some extent the puzzles feel secondary. With its ominous charms, odd cast of characters and distinctive aesthetics, Pinstripe is a solid, if brief addition to an adventure-lovers collection.

Pinstripe is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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