Pepper Grinder Review - Drilling for Treasure 345

Pepper Grinder Review – Drilling for Treasure

Some of my favorite games to review are from smaller studios. These experiences tend to be ambitious, or feature unique concepts. In the case of Pepper Grinder, it’s a fast paced platformer with the ability to control a wide variety of items with just a drill. It’s intriguing, but will it be enough to win players over?

Pepper Grinder doesn’t really have a narrative. After being shipwrecked, and robbed, Pepper needs to use her drill to ultimately reclaim her treasure. Outside of the initial premise, and a small cutscene at the end, there really isn’t much narrative. Bosses tend to get a couple second long cutscene, but in the end the main attraction is gameplay.

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The initial experience is a lot of fun. There is a brief tutorial explaining how to use Pepper’s drill to rush forward, and tons of treasure to collect along the way. However, given the limited number of stages, the learning curve is rather high.

After maybe 10 minutes of gameplay players are expected to navigate through narrow paths filled with hazards. At first there is a nice balance in difficulty. More difficult paths offer additional treasure, whereas easier paths make things more accessible. While this balance is nice, it’s also short lived.

After three or four stages more mechanics are added, and the margin of error continues to decrease. These include having to juggle multiple inputs, increased number of jumps, to even being forced to push forward.

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While this sounds rough, it varies. Most stages are only a couple minutes long, and have multiple checkpoints. That doesn’t mean you can’t get stuck, as there are some fairly difficult sections, just that a determined player should be able to overcome these challenges without too many issues.

If nothing else, I found controlling Pepper in drill mode was harder than the actual platforming. It’s simply not a precise instrument, and in a lot of cases even slight errors would result in failure. It also doesn’t help that a lot of sections have multiple punishments. Like I might hit a bomb, followed by falling over the edge. This one mistake would bring me to half health, only for a similar mistake to ultimately kill me.

Even if drilling was hit/miss, I really enjoyed the unique mechanics. Pepper can control a snowmobile, use a gatling gun, fire rockets, and even control a robot. The only downside is they are used far and few between. Like I think there is maybe 4 minutes of snowmobile gameplay in Pepper Grinder.

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Nothing Says Retro Platformer like a Cannon

Most of these mechanics are used once or twice, typically for a single section, before going away entirely. It’s unfortunate as these elements add some much needed variety beyond simply drilling forward.

In addition to under utilizing these mechanics, Pepper Grinder is rather short. It took me about 4 hours to beat every stage, and find all the collectibles. If I was just trying to beat it, I legitimately believe I could’ve done so in 2 hours or less.

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Upon obtaining every collectible, the only replay value offered is better scores/faster speeds. There is absolutely some potential there for speed runners. Simply having proper drill control, and knowing where to go can result in rather impressive times, it just depends on whether you want to invest in it or not.

Negatives aside, I do want to applaud Pepper Grinder for including unlockable cosmetics. There are a total of 27 hair/scarf options, with a few of them being more than a different color. There are also stickers that rely on RNG, so there is substantial amount of side things to chase if you so choose to.

Pepper Grinder Review Verdict

Pepper Grinder: On a basic level I think Pepper Grinder has potential. The core gameplay loop is a lot of fun, collectibles are more about having the skill to obtain them, and there is a lot of variety. However, I think the low play time, high difficulty curve, and limited replay value makes limits its overall appeal. Grant

von 10

Editor’s Note: Pepper Grinder was reviewed on PC, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.

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