Pepper Grinder - Switch Review

"I can’t shake the feeling I’m drilling by myself in an empty place."

Pepper Grinder - Switch Review
We're partnered with Skillshare, where you can do unlimited online courses that'll help you create art, make games, and even help you with school/university! Click here for a free 1 month trial.

Drills are super cool. They’re like rockets that pierce through things, what else do you need? Pepper Grinder speaks directly to that part of my brain that has liked drills ever since I was a kid, in a fun and fast-paced pirate platforming puzzle game. It’s a charming little adventure with a lot of great physics and over-the-top aesthetics that remind me somewhat of retro arcade games, but much smoother.

It’s a good time - let me show you how deep this hole goes.

The Good: Pierce the earth and the heavens!

In Pepper Grinder, you want gems. There’s a lot of dirt. And you have a drill.

The entire game revolves around burrowing and drilling through all sorts of environments to advance, find gems, beat enemies and traverse each stage, and they hit the jackpot with the drill itself: it feels very nice to control and is very intuitive. 

You can keep the drill primed at any point to burrow instantly and even boost yourself out of the earth at high speeds to traverse distances, grab items and hit enemies. And the sound design carries these sections because it is so satisfying to get your leaps just right and collect full lines of gems.

The game also looks very charming with its art style: rather than being fully pixelated, everything outside of controllable stages has a crayon-like aesthetic, as if the game’s map were drawn by a child playing pretend. It’s very memorable, cute and colourful.

The third pillar of the game is the level design: the stages are all very cleverly put together to maximise the amount of cool things you can do with your drill and jumps, while also leaving plenty of space to go back to and find collectibles, or even speedrun through them.

This is a game that’s perfect to play in short bursts: Pepper Grinder has very short stages, and even as a complete novice, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to beat any given stage - but you can always beat them in a more stylish and satisfying way.


  • Satisfying and responsive drill controls
  • Good sound effects
  • Charming, unique aesthetics
  • Good level design for short bursts

The Bad: I think we ran out of pepper, actually.

Pepper Grinder is another one in a long list of games that are entirely gameplay focused while paying as little attention as possible to plot or characters, and that’d be perfectly fine, if the gameplay had... a little more spice.

Pepper Grinder doesn’t do anything bad with itself, but it is so simple that it borders on not being very memorable, and the game feels empty. Drilling around the earth is very fun, but the novelty stops being as satisfying very early on, and nothing really takes its place.

The gameplay itself stays the same from beginning to end. There are some throw-away enemies and boss fights, but most stages are designed as a puzzle and tend to leave you be while you sort out your route through somewhat linear screens. Everything just feels very simple, to the point of becoming bland if you play for just a little too long.

You can unlock different colours for Pepper and buy stickers with collectable coins, but other than that, the game has no real progression mechanic. There’s also no dialogue at all; in fact, I don’t think the game uses any written words throughout a playthrough or within the menus. 

There is technically a plot, explained in about 15 seconds of a silent cutscene at the very beginning, but it’s most definitely just a little set dressing rather than something actually meant for the player to care about or even remember.

While none of these points are massive by themselves, they come together to create the feeling of a somewhat empty game that’s just missing something.


  • Bland before too long
  • Does not keep engagement well
  • No story or characters to fill the void

Final Score: 6/10

It’s weird—I actually did like Pepper Grinder plenty, and I think that it did an amazing job making its gameplay responsive and intuitive, but it legitimately feels like they got a very sturdy base and forgot to build the rest on top of it. I want to play more, but the game loses me after a small handful of stages, and I can’t shake the feeling I’m drilling by myself in an empty place.

Gameplay twists, some dialogue, more expressiveness, maybe some plot - there are plenty of things that could’ve elevated Pepper Grinder from a quick snack into a great meal, but they’re just not present. I do still recommend that you pick it up if you enjoy the aesthetics and the platforming style, but ultimately - it needs more seasoning.

Thank you for checking out our Pepper Grinder Switch review, thank you to Devolver Digital (via Powerup PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: