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Pepper Grinder (PC demo)

While I’m spending most of my game time lately mucking around on my Valve Steam Deck (I’m contemplating a write-up for this esteemed site). I’m finding I’m spending more time playing quirky, indie titles from indie publisher darling Devolver Digital.

Most recently it was Gunbrella (you can find a preview here), a title that suits the Steam Deck extremely well, and now it’s another pixel graphics adventure, Pepper Grinder, a 2D “pirate” platformer from a solo developer who goes by the studio name Ahr Ech where the hero has a drill that allows her to burrow through the earth, defeating enemies, collecting pick ups and jumping across gaps.

She’s Pepper, she has a Grinder, this is Pepper Grinder.

The demo starts with titular hero Pepper, a pirate, washing up on a sandy beach after her ship is wrecked and her Grinder (a powerful drilling device) is stolen by the pesky narlings. Pepper must reclaim the precious tool then explore the world, using the grinder to help, defeating the mischevious narlings and other foes she comes across.

Pepper Grinder is a brightly coloured yet confusing place at times, with Pepper using the drill to burrow through soft earth, bodies of water and across seemingly impossible chasms, as well as solving puzzles and generally creating mayhem. The controls are simple enough: Right trigger on a controller spins up the drill, A for jump, left stick for movement. Simple.

Well, not that simple, but it soon clicks.

At first it takes a little to get used to how the jump mechanic works: Pepper has to build up momentum by drilling through the soft rock, allowing her to propel herself from point to point – but once you figure it out, you’ll find the movement is pretty darn fluid. Soon enough you’ll be blasting all over the place, negotiating the tiny pirate through crystal clear waters, across rock outcrops and around spiky thorns. Jewels embedded in the landscape can be used to upgrade Pepper’s abilities and open up new paths on the world map.

It seems a pretty quirky title, although I can imagine the latter parts of the game will test your navigating and drill skills as the demo only gave a brief taste of what’s in store.

Pepper Grinder is out some time this year on PC and Nintendo Switch.