We catch up with Thomas Brush, creator of award-winning indie games Coma and Skinny and the upcoming Pinstripe, to talk about his work.
If you’re a fan of atmospheric and surreal games, chances are you may have heard of Thomas Brush. He’s the creator of classic Flash titles Coma and Skinny, and for the past five years he’s been working on something called Pinstripe, coming soon to Steam. But while it has all the striking imagery and dreamy detail of its predecessors, Pinstripe is much, much bigger… and a lot more work considering Thomas himself has done everything from the programming to the art and music.
Pinstripe was funded with Kickstarter in early 2016, meeting its goal in just one day. It was Greenlit by the Steam community in only seven days. To some people, that might sound like a good time to start looking into laurel suppliers for something to rest on. For Thomas Brush, however, it meant doubling-down on the last year of development. Now that the game is getting closer and closer to release, we thought we’d take some time to tell you about it.
Pinstripe, as the copy will tell you, is about a man named Teddy who’s journeying through a strange, frozen Hell in search of his daughter. She’s been abducted by the sinister Mr. Pinstripe, and to save her, Teddy’s going to have to go up against creatures and characters both bizarre and threatening, with his intrepid pup at his side. What kind of game doesn’t have a helpful, scrappy, scruffy doggy companion? Not any game I want to be part of, I’m sure.
The game is, at its most basic, a blend of action-adventure and platforming elements, though it is neither strictly a “platformer” nor an action game. Players control Teddy on a 2D plane, solving puzzles and traversing obstacles using everything from a well-timed jump to an expertly aimed shot. You might need to blast away the locks on a suspended cage, for example, or keep out of reach of the fangs of a hungry beast. While it might sound death-defying, however, Pinstripe aims to be accessible rather than to put players through their paces. You’ll need to think a bit, shoot a bit, and explore and ponder a lot.
Pinstripe aims to take you on a journey. If you’ve played Coma or Skinny, and you should since they’re still available free in your browser, you’ll have an idea of what to expect for Pinstripe. Thomas’s style has always blended the wonderfully weird with the profoundly unsettling in the very best ways, it’s never been about just being wacky or unexpected. As you travel deeper into Hell, you’ll learn about Teddy’s past and why he’s there. The end goal for you is to care about Teddy and his daughter, Bo, just as much as you are sucked in by the underworld wonderland aesthetic. After all, a story without heart is no story at all.
One of Pinstripe’s greatest strengths is its overall visual design and soundtrack. An influence long-cited has been Tim Burton’s iconic film The Nightmare Before Christmas, which will likely be apparent to most players right away. Sure, the characters’ spindly frames will evoke the Pumpkin King, but the dreamy yet chilly snowdrifts and shadows of Edge Wood will evoke echoes of it as well, complete with its cold tones and towering trees. Fortunately, Pinstripe isn’t just nice to look at… it’s quite easy on the ears as well. You can listen to a few tracks from the game’s original score on SoundCloud, all of which have been made, like everything else, by Thomas himself. The cast is more than a little eclectic, and there’s a very good chance you’ll recognise some of the people lending their voices to the game.
Every developer puts a lot of themselves into their work, and we’re confident that when players finally get their hands on Pinstripe and load it up, they’ll say to themselves, “Yes, this is Thomas Brush. You can just tell.” If you prefer your adventure games with a healthy dose of strangeness, we hope you’ll consider booking a ticket on board Pinstripe and riding along with Teddy on his quest to save Bo. And of course, Mr. Pinstripe is just dying to meet you.
Pinstripe is due out soon on Steam, and you can pre-order the game and learn more at the official website.