Pepper Grinder review

by on March 28, 2024
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Release Date

March 28, 2024


It might not sound like the most exciting activity, but drilling through dirt has been part of gaming for years. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to survive deep underground as Mr Driller when I was a youngster, and other highlights of my drilling career include using a pneumatic drill in Worms to make bases and occasionally scramble an enemy, and digging up valuable treasure to upgrade my kit in Steamworld Dig. It turns out drilling will never go out of fashion, as now Pepper Grinder has arrived with a drill-based platformer that you’d be a fool to ignore.

You play as the titular Pepper who with her drill (or Grinder if you will) is tasked making her way through a bunch of themed levels to stop an evil drill person and their army of blue horned critters. This isn’t your standard running and jumping to a goal though: getting around in Pepper Grinder involves much more movement through dirt than any of Mario or Sonic’s adventures.

The main hook of the game is using the drill to get to the goal, which means moving through any dirt paths that lead you through the stages at breakneck speed. Drilling doesn’t just help you get through solid passages though, it can also be used to boost out of any dirt to get to any out of reach platforms or collectables. Soaring through the air from one diggable surface to another feels fantastic, and when combined with hazards and enemies to dodge becomes quite the challenge.

You’ll make your way through the first few stages of Pepper Grinder getting used to all the basic drill skills you have, but just as you’re getting comfortable grappling is added into the mix. Some grapple points are merely there to zip straight too, but others you’ll connect to and swing around until you launch off in another direction. No matter how you’re getting from A-to-B in Pepper Grinder there’s just a wonderful flow between your movements, which I couldn’t get enough of.

A screenshot of Pepper Grinder

The movement in Pepper Grinder really is impressive, but it wouldn’t matter if there weren’t great levels to drill through. The variety of gimmicks that each stage has to offer is rather mind blowing, with everything from cannons you can launch out of, vehicles you can drive, to unique ranged weapons you can pick up, all carefully woven into the platforming obstacles courses.

After you’ve beaten a few stages in each of the game’s four worlds you’ll reach a boss fight, which will really test your drilling skills. Each of these fearsome foes requires you to dodge some seriously devastating attacks and then drill into the big bad when they’re vulnerable, and they’re a welcome change of pace if you’re up for the challenge.

Getting through to the end of each level of Pepper Grinder may be your main goal, but collectible fans will be happy to hear that’s not all. There are five skull coins in each stage, and they’re always well tucked away down hidden passages or on particularly hard to reach ledges. I loved finding all these shiny goodies in my playthrough, and they even have an important purpose.

You see, there’s a shop in each world of Pepper Grinder where you can spend your hard earned treasure and skull coins on keys to secret levels, sticker boards, and more. Sticker boards are basically backgrounds from the game where you can place any stickers of characters and enemies to make a charming little piece of art, and while they won’t be something everyone dives deep into, they’re undeniably very cute.

A screenshot of Pepper Grinder

I loved my time with Pepper Grinder, but I wish it wasn’t quite so brief. Collecting every skull coin and beating every level took me under three hours, and I was just left wanting a little bit more of this fantastic platformer. There are time trials to take on which could eek an extra hour or two out of the game, but I would’ve been so excited to play an extra world or two and carry on my drilling adventure.

Outside of just wanting more, there’s very little to complain about regarding Pepper Grinder. It looks gorgeous, has a unique and banging soundtrack, and is pretty much the exact difficulty I’d want from a 2D platformer. A few late game levels are a little bit stingy with the checkpoints, but really that’s about as much fault as there is to find in this wonderful game.

Pepper Grinder is a sensational 2D platformer with a drilling twist, fantastic locomotion, and expertly designed stages. The variety in gimmicks that you find in each stage is truly impressive, and the collectibles provide that dopamine hit we all love, and are actually used for something nice. It may not be a game you’re playing for hours and hours, but Pepper Grinder isn’t here for a long time, it’s here for a good time, and boy does it succeed at that.


A wonderful platformer with a great gameplay hook
Movement feels fluid and fun
So much variety in the stages
Collectables are well hidden and have a purpose


Left me wanting a tiny bit more
Has some very occasional cruel checkpoints

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Pepper Grinder is one of the most entertaining 2D platformers I've played in ages, with fantastic motion and seriously creative and varied stages.