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Pepper Grinder Key Art

Pepper Grinder Review: Dig It

I’ve had my eye on indie gem Pepper Grinder for a while now. It was first announced by solo dev Ahr Ech back in 2017 in their YouTube channel, the game first caught my eye in a 2022 Nintendo Indie World presentation, where it was part of a Devolver Digital showcase. I’ve reviewed a couple of the demos that have been released, but with a full release coming on 29th March Australian time, there’s a lot to be excited for.

Pepper Grinder Boss

Who Is Pepper Grinder?

Pepper Grinder is a portmanteau of the words Pepper and Grinder. Pepper is the character, and she uses a Grinder. Put them together and you get Pepper Grinder! Washing up on a beach after a shipwreck, Pepper finds all her stuff being looted. Now she’s on a mission to recover what’s hers.

The Grinder is a versatile tool but the main thing you’ll be using it for is movement. Sections of the ground can be drilled into, translating into swimming-like movement. Pepper moves faster while in the dirt and can access a temporary boost. Some enemies can only be damaged from beneath via dirt swimming.

That’s not the only use for the Grinder though. There’s a number of useful gadgets it can interface with, such as grappling points, a gun and even vehicles.

Pepper Grinder Moveable Poles

The Levels

Pepper Grinder has four worlds, each with its own look and feel. From the beaches of World 1, through the lava filled World 2 or the ice environments of World 3, levels feel unique and fresh.

Each level has five hidden coins. Along with the gems collected in levels, these can be used to purchase stickers for Pepper’s scrap book, health refills, costumes and even keys to unlock a world’s hidden level. If you’re having trouble with a level, you can also purchase bonus health.

After finding all the collectibles a level has to offer, players can try their hand at Time Attack. Enemies and collectibles don’t matter here. The only thing that matters is speed. Rewards are given depending on how fast you finish a level.

Gun & Bombs

How Does Pepper Grinder Play?

Gameplay in Pepper Grinder is a joy. Controls are tight and working out the movement tech is fun. Working out how to get to out of reach collectibles gives the game a puzzle element. There is something for everybody here.

I did have an issue with the final boss. The first phase is challenging with a number of attacks to anticipate and react to, but the second phase only had a couple of attacks. It felt repetitive rather than epic like the visuals suggested.

Pepper Grinder

Overall, Pepper Grinder is a fun platformer that uses its core mechanic to the fullest. There is always a risk in games that have a deceptively simple premise that it runs out of ideas, but Ahr Ech have knocked it out of the park.

Pepper Grinder is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch for $22.50

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