Publisher Devolver Digital and developer Ahr Ech got together and looked at the platformer genre. A lot of ideas have been done, and the best ideas have been iterated on multiple times. It takes a lot to make this type of game stand out in 2023. That's why Ahr Ech opted to take a new heroine and hand her a motorized drill. Pepper Grinder is all about drilling to win, and Shacknews recently got to take a first look at the game's first three stages.
Pepper Grinder follows the tale of Pepper, who crashes onto a deserted island. Her treasure is stolen by a gang of ne'er-do-wells and she has to pick herself up and venture out to get it back. While she may not have her treasure or her supplies, she does have one thing to assist her and that's a big honkin' drill.
Pepper Grinder is enjoyable in that it exercises a simple gimmick and doesn't overthink it. Pepper's drill has just the sorts of practical uses that one might expect. It can defeat enemies, and it bores her straight through pockets of soft earth. The game operates on a principle of momentum, where Pepper builds up a head of steam, pops out of the dirt, and lands in the next dirt pocket to keep right on going. It's fast-paced gameplay where the main danger is getting overzealous and drilling right into traps like land mines or enemy projectiles.
It doesn't take long for the game to introduce different obstacles and puzzle mechanics to mix up the digging action. Players will encounter platform switches that flip on contact and platforms that are activated by Pepper's drill. There are also keys hidden in more durable containers, which will require players to circle back around and keep drilling away at them while avoiding various hazards.
There's a lot of room for clever level design, though this was just a quick scratch of the surface. Our demo only contained the first three levels, which we were able to plow through in a matter of minutes. The quick pace of every stage and the central locomotion motif suggest that this will be a hit with the speedrunning community and those looking for a quick pick-up-and-play title.
Pepper Grinder was originally slated for release in 2023 but was among the titles featured in the recent Devolver Delayed presentation. It won't be out this year, but there's still a lot to look forward to here, as we can sense that Ahr Ech has a lot more ideas to further feed this concept. Look for Pepper Grinder to come to PC and Nintendo Switch in 2024.
These impressions are based on an early PC demo provided by the publisher. It may not be representative of the final product.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Pepper Grinder is fast-paced platforming with an out-of-control drill
I like that spinning the machinery (platforms, flags)