• Pepper Grinder is a pixel art game with a beautifully crafted world and inspirations from Sega's Ecco the Dolphin and arcade classic Dig Dug.
  • Playing as a pirate named Pepper, the game involves using a giant drill to retrieve stolen treasure, with gameplay reminiscent of Ecco the Dolphin and Donkey Kong Country.
  • The controls are solid, the puzzles are designed with movement in mind, and the game is shaping up to be another indie gem from Devolver Digital. #PepperGrinder

I, like countless others, have a bit of a penchant for pixel art games. There’s just something special about picking up an indie game with a beautifully crafted world in which every micro-square of RGB magic has been placed with care. Pepper Grinder definitely fits into this category. I got to play the game at Devolver Digital's Gamescom booth this year, and it looks like the publisher may have done it again.

Initially, Pepper Grinder looks a bit like an amalgamation of Celeste and Steamworld Dig, but I was told that the inspirations actually came from wayyy back before those indie hits. Rather than taking cues from recent indie titles, Pepper Grinder was actually inspired by Sega's Ecco the Dolphin and the arcade classic, Dig Dug.

Playing as a pirate named Pepper, you're washed ashore and have had your treasure stolen. You find a giant drill and set off on your mission to retrieve it.

pepper grinder 1

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From this point on, I was thrust into the game's first level and its aforementioned inspirations became immediately clear. My first task was to simply dig through some sand and use the momentum to launch myself upwards into the next sandy area. It was the movement here which was really reminiscent of Ecco, leaping out of the sand like a majestic dolphin which, instead of a beak, had a drill for a nose.

I had to use my drill and the momentum it generated to hop from point to point, each requiring some tight timing and accuracy. Thankfully, the controls were solid and supported each twist and turn that I had to make, never feeling cumbersome or slow - that didn't stop me falling multiple times, with each fall exacerbated by my sheer panic trying to recover. It was always my fault though.

pepper grinder 2

As the game progressed, the jumps got more difficult and the puzzles more complex, but according to Devolver, the puzzles were all designed with movement in mind, and when you take that into account, things become a little more plain sailing. Progression through the game also meant a change in the environments that I was drilling my way through.

While drilling through the sand was a rapid, flowing experience, the second level threw me into the water. Unlike the sand, the water felt slower but, in turn, allowed me to control Pepper and her drill even more precisely, letting me swim through precarious rows of thorns. This felt more akin to one of the title's other apparent inspirations, Donkey Kong Country and its Coral Capers level.

From what I played, Pepper Grinder is shaping up really nicely. I'm not sure that Devolver Digital has the next Enter The Gungeon, Katana Zero or Cult of the Lamb on its hands, but it's certainly looking like it's going to be another indie gem.

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