HomeVideo GamesGAME REVIEW | "Pepper Grinder" Drills Up the Fun & Difficulty

GAME REVIEW | "Pepper Grinder" Drills Up the Fun & Difficulty

GAME REVIEW | "Pepper Grinder" Drills Up the Fun & Difficulty

Drills are no stranger to video games. Many of us have experienced the classics like Dig Dug and Mr. Driller. But I can’t remember the last time a video game came around where drilling was the main mechanic. Enter Pepper Grinder, the latest from Devolver Digital that takes a familiar mechanic and pushes it to the extreme.

The story follows Pepper, a pirate who finds herself shipwrecked and broke. All of her treasure is gone, with the villainous Narlings now in possession. In order to regain control of her life, Pepper must snatch back her possessions. To achieve that, she’ll need the help of her trust drill Grinder.

Grinder is a Swiss Army Knife of a tool, as it’s not just for digging. Pepper can launch herself into the air with it, open gates, and take out enemies with it. On occasions, she can combine it with keys and guns in order to unlock areas and take out droves of Narlings. There are even hidden gems to discover depending on how she drills, with certain sound effects heard when a hidden gem is in reach.

Playing like a retro platformer, Pepper Grinder gives delivers with some NES-era levels of difficulty. Very often you will find yourself collecting plenty of gems, only to get axed off and forced to start from where you last left off. There were times where those deaths occurred inches from the next checkpoint, making moments like that truly frustrating. (Perhaps this is why the game recommends you taking a 15-minute break every 45 minutes, as the rage quit is strong with this one.)

Yet despite its toughness, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Ahr Ech and MP2 Games’s latest title. Whether it’s taking out Narlings or finding new ways to up your gem-collecting combos, the gameplay here is fast, furious, and challenging. Finding hidden gold coins (which can help unlock bonus levels and cosmetic goodies) can be tough, especially when you’re quickly drilling through certain areas. However, those who keep a keen eye on suspicious cracks and dirt may find not just those coins, but also more of that juicy pirate treasure.

The game gets really fun when you bring a gun to a drill fight. Taking out Narlings, shooting vases and skulls, and completely annihilating areas are simply a joy to watch unfold. It’s only a shame that these levels occur only in a select few parts, but then again, this is all about the art of drilling. And fortunately, that drill has a heck of a lot of uses.

During my time playing Pepper Grinder, I used that drill to unlock doors, crank up elevators, open passageways whilst eliminating pests with a splat!, and took down every enemy in reach. Where the drill shines most is in the boss fights, which require a plethora of quick thinking and aiming to take down many of these behemoths. (The one downside to the boss battles is having to guess where their weak spots are, which require a lot of trial and error.)

Despite its short 4-6 hour length, there’s a lot to return to in Pepper Grinder. Replaying levels, finding all of the gold coins, and unlocking bonus levels help add a greater length to this game’s lifespan. Those bonus levels up the zaniness, with the sight of launching cannons and armies of Narlings mowed down into skulls and cartilage.


  • Unique drilling mechanics
  • Challenging levels and enemies
  • Gatling gun levels are hilariously fun!


  • Brutal difficulty
  • Needs more checkpoints


Pepper Grinder is a solid twist on the platforming genre. The drill usages are unique, giving way to fun gameplay and loads of brutally funny carnage. It’s a tough cookie to master, but those who can will find Pepper Grinder a neat spin on classic video game mechanics. But if it gets way too hard, perhaps listen to the devs when they say to take a breather after long playthroughs.


Promotional consideration provided by Thomas Schulenberg of Tinsley PR. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)