Pinstripe Switch Review

Game: Pinstripe: A Father in Hell
System: Switch
Developer: Atmos Games
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Age Rating: 10+ (ESRB)|7+ (PEGI)
Price: $14.99 | £ 13.09 | € 14,49
Release Date: 25 October 2018
(The game is also available on PC)

Overall feeling: I like it a lot!

Review code courtesy of Serenity Forge.

Hell is a cold lonely place and the Enemy is a shadowy man named Mr. Pinstripe. You, an ex-minister, must thwart his sinister plans for your kidnapped daughter.

“Beautiful and haunting” may be a cliched phrase, but it sums up Pinstripe: A Father in Hell. The game itself is hardly a cliche though, whether in its premise or subtle handling of real-life themes.

This short adventure/platformer (which can be completed in 3 to 5 hours) is the third game of solo developer Thomas Brush. He made nearly all of the game himself — the art, writing, music, and coding. The result is a small, modest game with unexpected depth.

The Delightful

Pinstripe’s voice-acting, music, and sound effects are its most outstanding elements. They’re what make your spine crawl when you first meet Mr. Pinstripe or when you dive into the depths of his lair.

The story is both simple and deep. It is not only a rescue mission but also a mystery to be pieced together: What tragedy befell the protagonist? What happened to his soul, metaphorically (and perhaps, literally)?

Pinstripe touches indirectly on real-life religious faith, a relatively unmined theme in gaming. It does this briefly and well, in subtle and non-caricatured ways. The game does not make truth statements but, rather, creates an experience for players to taste: the nightmare of a man grappling with loss. While I love a good fantasy yarn, I could do with more games like Pinstripe that deal with real-world questions and experiences.

As for gameplay, Pinstripe has a good diversity of puzzles for such a short game.

Most of the time, the challenges you’re solving make you pay attention to the physics of movement. That adds to the feeling of exploring the snowy world of Hell and interacting with each room’s environment.

For example, to reach a far-off ledge, you must use your body weight and running speed to give momentum to a swinging platform. And you don’t have to be science buff to accomplish these tasks; they aren’t difficult most of the time.

You’re given a slingshot to accomplish various aims, from shooting down enemies to hitting levers to move an obstacle. The fun of Pinstripe is discovering what you can shoot. It feels rather satisfying to fire off your slingshot at just about anything.

Though you’ll meet your share of bomb-dropping enemies, combat is not the focus of Pinstripe. And if you die, the game kindly replenishes your hearts and lets you keep already-collected items.

The Frustrating

If I had one major complaint, it would be Pinstripe’s darkness. And I don’t mean thematic darkness but its literal darkness. I was straining my eyes in some areas where rooms were too murky. I got stuck in the game a few times because I didn’t realize a room had other exits hidden in the gloom.

Two of the mandatory mini-games were also frustrating: balloon-shooting and opening Happy’s spiky safe. Both were excruciatingly too long, and could have benefited from being shorter by a few seconds. What made the balloon-shooting game difficult was being forced to aim with the Switch’s R-stick. Accurate aiming is difficult to do quickly, and I wonder if it could have been easier with touchscreen controls.

Despite its platformer elements, the game is mostly easy in terms of the moving and jumping. However, crossing one chasm nearly drove me mad. I had to hop across fast-moving barrels, a feat requiring quick reflexes and precision.

Then again, if I could make it past these physical challenges — and I’m terrible at platformers — perhaps most players will eventually succeed with practice too.

If you ever get stuck, don’t be ashamed to check the game’s official walkthrough. Because more than anything else, Pinstripe is really about experiencing a story.


I can’t help but think of Pinstripe as a short-story piece. I don’t mean that it’s full of text and dialogue (as it isn’t), but that its purpose is to delve into the shoes of a man who has lost something precious.

For that reason, I recommend the game to players looking for a short indie game that excels in artistic quality, not just visually but also in sound and writing.

If you think $14.99 is steep, do consider two other factors:

First, the game offers a reason to replay it. Finishing it once unlocks Adventure Plus mode, which allows you to access new rooms on the next playthrough. Replaying also gives you the chance to experience a different story ending, which you can obtain through certain dialogue choices (“sun” versus “moon” choices).

Second, you may just find it worth experiencing the work of Thomas Brush, who — with the exception of hiring excellent voice actors — developed Pinstripe single-handedly.

Check out the official trailer here.

I like it a lot!

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