Home » Pepper Grinder PC review – Can you dig it?

Pepper Grinder PC review – Can you dig it?

Pepper Grinder review digging

I love games about drilling through dirt. There’s just something inherently satisfying about using a big drill to make your way, especially when there are treasures to collect. Pepper Grinder is a three-hour-long, level-based game about a girl trying to get her treasure back with nothing but a big drill. Although the experience is all too brief, there’s a lot of creativity on display here. There’s also the occasional frustration as well, but it never rises to the point where it diminishes the overall fun factor.

Pepper Grinder is divided into four worlds with several levels each, all culminating in a boss battle. The player character has a drill that can be used to attack enemies and move through certain types of ground. You can’t dig everywhere, of course, only in predetermined spots. Levels have plenty of currency to collect in the form of gems, as well as five skull coins that are usually hidden. There’s not much reason to focus on currency collection, however, as all you can really buy are a power-up that lets you take an extra hit and a collection of stickers and sticker pages you can buy from shops.

The skull coins are mainly used to purchase keys that unlock the game’s four extra levels (that are all very much worth seeing,) plus different hair colours or hoods for the main character to wear. There just isn’t much incentive to actually focus on much of this, but it’s there if you want it. The game’s presentation is fairly standard for pixel-based 2D games, and has that chunky, somewhat ill-defined look that we’ve been seeing so much of in recent years. It’s neither particularly impressive or offensive in any capacity. It’s just fine.

Pepper Grinder review level design

Dig deep

While moving around above ground, you can walk and jump, but things really kick into high gear while digging. Movement speed increases substantially, plus you can boost while drilling. You’ll often be transferring between different diggable areas at high speed which is fairly exhilarating. Granted, the controls for this can feel unwieldy and I often felt that I didn’t have the level of control I wanted, even if things were perfectly functional all the same. It’s simply easy to miss a jump because you ended up barrelling forward at an unintended angle.

Early on, I was worried that Pepper Grinder would grow stale and fail to evolve its concepts. This absolutely didn’t come to pass, as this is something the game excels at. Similar to a Mario game, individual levels have unique gimmicks that act as a major switch up. Perhaps you’ll be waiting for volcanic eruptions to drop magma into ice water which then cool and allow you to dig through them. Or maybe you’ll use attachments for your drill that give you a machine gun. My personal favourite sees you control a big mech that allows you to tear through buildings like paper. There’s a lot of creativity on display here.

Some gimmicks aren’t quite as fun, however. One requires you to swing in a circle to jump between points and these are simply too fast. Combined with the unwieldy nature of the controls, these often infuriated me. Thankfully, this doesn’t pop up too much and it only really vexed me for a couple of levels. Granted, the game’s penultimate level also has a couple of sections that go on far too long without a checkpoint. But the general gameplay is suitably enjoyable and the consistently fresh level design really does make up for any of these deficits.

Pepper Grinder review mechanics

Get some treasure

Pepper Grinder has four boss battles of which the quality varies. The first one is fairly challenging, the second one is pretty easy, the third one is solid, and the final boss is mostly kind of annoying. The game took me about three hours to get through, but I could certainly see people getting through in less. You can try to get better times on the levels and go back for any skull coins you miss, but that’s about it. That being said, the game did leave me wanting more, while also feeling like it didn’t outstay its welcome. It’s not a particularly complicated game, obviously, so it didn’t need to go on and on, at least.

I had a good time with Pepper Grinder. Despite having less precise controls than I would have liked and some annoying segments, it’s a creative game with lots of likable levels and some neat mechanics. While many players might be disappointed with its lack of content, fans of 2D platformers and especially fans of 2D digging will find a worthwhile experience here.

Pepper Grinder review boss fight

Pepper Grinder: Short but creative, Pepper Grinder does a fair amount with its premise all while offering fresh mechanics and great level design. Andrew Farrell

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