From the mind of Ahr Ech, the indie developer studio run by solo dev Riv Hester, the Pepper Grinder demo asks the question “what if that one Ori mechanic, but for a whole game?”. And really, why not?
While I couldn’t find any record of Hester saying that Ori influenced his designs, he has said that he’s taken inspiration from other titles like Dig Dug and Ecco the Dolphin. It’s easy to see the influence of both of those games in the Pepper Grinder demo.
The Pepper Grinder Demo
The story is inconsequential to the demo. Suffice to say Pepper is a pirate, pirate stuff happens, and she gains the use of her Grinder. This combination allows her to effectively swim through certain terrains and can launch her into the air.
The Pepper Grinder demo I played is the first few levels. Gameplay starts off simple, guiding you through how to dive through the landscape, building momentum to propel Pepper much further than she can jump.
The main gameplay of the demo is the platforming, but later levels introduce puzzles. Working out how to get around an obstacle or enemy was enjoyable.
Movement was fluid and fun. If I had one complaint, it would be that some sections were too fluid, not allowing me time to stop and search for secrets. Did I mention there were secrets? Because there are.
Where To Find
As with most indie games, Pepper Grinder has been a work in progress for a while. It was first announced with a trailer in mid-2017. The game also featured in the 2022 Nintendo Indie World Showcase where it was revealed that Devolver Digital would be its publisher.
Originally slated for a 2023 release, it was recently announced that it would be pushed back to 2024. I’d much prefer a game get delayed to get the extra TLC it deserves than to come out under done.