Review: Pepper Grinder Rewards Precision
Image via Devolver Digital

Review: Pepper Grinder Rewards Precision

Pepper Grinder is a game that involves a fun concept, but that also isn’t the most comfortable to play. Fortunately, this is a situation where being short and sweet works in its favor, so it’s easier to overlook a little awkwardness.

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Pepper got a lot of treasure! Except then her ship crashed on an island. Everything she worked for was stolen. However, upon discovering the thieves, she also happened upon a Grinder drill. She then must go through four areas recollecting all her cash and doling out revenge while digging through terrain, stone, slime, and other substances.

Pepper Grinder is game about momentum and flow. Each stage tasks you with digging through substances to collect gems, defeat enemies, get around obstacles and hazards, and reach the end so you can hoist the flag and show you conquered the area. This means knowing when to dig through the dirt, getting the correct angles, boosting at the proper times, and ensuring you are avoiding enemies or death. There are multiple save spots in levels, so there isn’t a ton of backtracking if you do falter. Plus if you get the timing right, it definitely feels satisfying to speed through a stage.

I think my biggest issue with Pepper Grinder comes down to accessibility. I feel pretty fortunate that I’ve spent about 10-12 hours every Monday through Friday typing at a computer and playing games for at least an hour most evenings without getting carpel tunnel syndrome or any other issues. However, I could not play this game for more than an hour at a time. The need to constantly be pressing the right trigger, boosting with one button, or swapping to another to use the drill as a grappling hood would get to be too much for me. 

Even though you can remap controls and you can lay off of the drilling button when boring through substances, it’s too intense. Couple that with some levels after the ones in the first area introducing situations that require the utmost precision and repetition until you get the muscle memory and movements down, and there were times it stopped being fun for me.

Fortunately, Pepper Grinder is also an incredibly short game. As in you’ll probably finish it in about three hours unless you’re looking to buy all the gold keys for extra levels or do some coin and sticker collecting. There are four worlds with a handful of levels and boss fight in each one, as well as a Curiosity Shop with each in each area. So even if there is a moment that gets a little too taxing, know that once you’ve cleared that hurdle it is done for good and you’re on to the next thing and challenge. I’d say the brevity works in its favor. I could see this being a premise that could wear thin eventually, and this stops that from happening.

Pepper Grinder is a Devolver Digital game with a good idea that generally works well. There are some moments that might feel a bit much, either due to the necessary inputs or a certain stretch of an area. Still, it all flows very well and it never wears out its welcome. 

Pepper Grinder is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC

7
Pepper Grinder
Pepper Grinder is an action-packed 2D adventure blending traditional platforming with an alternate drilling mode that allows you to dive in and out of the earth like a dolphin swims through water. Switch version reviewed. Review copy provided by company for testing purposes. Pepper Grinder is a game with a good idea that generally works well.
Pros
  • I'd say skip buying stickers entirely. Spend your money on health (if you need it) or gold keys.
  • When you're actually digging through dirt with your drill, you can let go of the trigger.
  • Drill Dozer is still my favorite drill-based game.

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Author
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.