Pepper Grinder review – straight-ahead fun with brilliant ideas along the way

April 5, 2024
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Pepper Grinder is one of those 2D platform games with a big idea. And its big idea is brilliant. You’re a tiny character scampering around roomy levels, the camera pulled a good way out, and you have a drill. A drill! You can use it to chug through sand and dirt and emerge with a burst of speed. You can drill enemies until they’re just jaw bones and cute gristle. You can use the drill to power a machine that raises the flag that ends each level. You can use the drill to operate guns, sprinklers, skidoos – you name it. More important than all that, though, Pepper Grinder is a game where the little details matter. And I knew this as soon as I saw the vines.

The vines are introduced pretty early on. They’re tangles of barbed foliage that do damage if you get too close. Fine. Obvious, even. But what I love is that when you drill through sand or dirt that the vines are attached to, they shudder in a delightful, frenetic manner. They shiver with the energy that comes from your drill. The game has noticed this might happen, and so it has been made to happen. Bodes well, if you ask me.

Both these elements – big idea, attention to the little things – define a breezy, ever-changing game that has been a treat for me these last few days. You may have read that Pepper Grinder’s a short game, and it is. But a short game can still outlive your enthusiasm for it, and Pepper Grinder never does.

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