Pepper Grinder Review – A Short and Sweet Adventure

Pepper Grinder Review

2D action platformers have become increasingly common within the gaming landscape, especially with regard to indie titles. Fortunately, most of these titles are done really well. They often have distinctive features and/or characteristics that help them differentiate themselves from the rest. In the case of Pepper Grinder, you have a drill that acts as a weapon. It’s also your primary means of traversal across a number of different obstacles.

Grist for the Mill

The game puts you in the role of Pepper, a pirate looking to reclaim her treasure from the Narlings who had taken it upon her shipwreck. The other half of the title, Grinder, refers to Pepper’s super-powered drilling device. While the game puts an ultimate objective on the line to push Pepper forward, the narrative here isn’t what makes Pepper Grinder stand out, its gameplay does.

As a 2D action-platformer, Pepper Grinder’s gameplay focuses primarily on the use of Grinder to maneuver through the environment, allowing Pepper to drill through sand, ice, water, food, and more. While the drill may be the primary method, cannons, grappling, water skimming, and more play vital roles in the platforming aspect of the game.

MIA Combat

Aside from the platforming, Pepper Grinder’s combat portions are relatively non-existent outside of boss battles. Where Pepper Grinder surprised me was through an atypical puzzle element. While some were straightforward in the sense of needing to understand which ways to travel first to unlock the correct pathway, the use of momentum and other factors was also an interesting dynamic within the game. Before we get to the boss battles, I also wanted to mention the collectibles. Each stage contains five Skull Coins hidden throughout, which allows players to purchase items as well as unlock hidden levels. While these are pretty common to see in platformers, it’s always a nice touch regardless.

Pepper Grinder is relatively easy to get through, providing players with a generous amount of checkpoints that allow players to get to the ends of stages pretty quickly. If any portions do get challenging, it didn’t take many additional attempts to get past them. Where the game’s difficulty does spike in challenge are the boss battles. The game’s boss battles represent a spike in difficulty when compared to the stages leading up to them. Despite this, the bosses themselves are pretty straightforward in that the weaknesses are obvious. Once you get the strategy down, it is a matter of not getting greedy, or even purchasing a temporary armor boost to get you through the battle.

Pathfinding Goodness

Visually, while Pepper Grinder does not do anything to quite stand out from other titles, it is still a vibrant, detailed undertaking. The game makes it easy to determine enemies, pathways, and even boss weak points. This is done with a mixture of simplistic wayfinding such as with trails of jewels and even some common sense. For example, the aforementioned weak points of bosses were determined by utilizing some thinking rather than a giant glowing orange spot. Where some wayfinding could have been improved was with material that did not appear to be drillable. Specifically, I did not expect hanging meat to be among the drillable materials as that section had another primary material used for traversal. Despite that, Pepper Grinder does a good job of leveraging its visuals to positively affect gameplay.

Overall, Pepper Grinder is a solid action platformer. It has a unique feature that helps set it apart from the rest, despite some points that still feel quite generic. Aside from some difficulty spikes, Pepper Grinder is relatively easy and short to get through. While sometimes games can feel a bit too short or too long, the game feels like it hits the right spot in terms of length. Sure, we’re starting to reach a point of saturation with indie 2D action platformers, but there is always room for innovative, fun experiences and Pepper Grinder fits that mould perfectly.

*** A review code was provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Fun gameplay
  • Wayfinding is laid out nicely
  • Compact experience

The Bad

  • Difficulty spikes
  • Generic at times