Review – Grindstone
Nintendo has some of the weirdest affiliation with indie titles. On one hand, you have some of the most spectacular games, like Ori, Hades, and Shovel Knight. On the other hand, the eShop is also so full of shovelware that it’s hard to find anything worth playing. During the last Indieworld Direct in 2020, a bunch of games were announced, with some being slated for a 2021 release, and a few coming out the same day. One of those was Grindstone, an interesting looking puzzle game full of monsters, guts, and blood.
Grindstone doesn’t quite play out the way you may expect. Following a route of levels, your aim is obviously to get everything in each level, basically the equivalent of three stars. Generally this just involves killing a set amount of monsters, one or two “elite” monsters, and opening a chest before leaving. Monsters are killed by chaining adjacent monsters of the same colour together. Elites and objects on the map typically have a number associated with them. These numbers indicate how far into the chain they have to be to be able to kill them. Simple, right?
Once you complete your first chain of over ten monsters, it’ll spawn a gem on the map. Ending your chain on a gem will let you continue with any colour monster, instead of just the one you began the chain with. Forcing a few gems to spawn can create for some huge chains, which is always satisfying. Gems are also helpful to make a chain long enough to kill elites, or open chests.
Normally, you’ll just find gems or wood in the chests. Both of which are used to make/buy upgrade for use in the levels, helping to make them a little easier. You’ll also find blueprints, which is how you actually unlock each upgrade. The upgrades are basically used just to kill monsters around the map, or be able to block a hit of damage from the monsters.
The longer you spend on each level, the more aggressive the monsters become. Eventually reaching a point, where every monster intends to attack and the only way to avoid it is to chain together enough monsters to make an opening. Either that, or just escape through the door to end the level. You have three hearts before you die, all dying does though is cause you to restart the current level.
The music and sound effects in Grindstone are pretty basic, which leads into the main point of this game. The layout and everything leads to one simple conclusion, this game was built as a mobile game, likely because it was originally released as an iOS and Apple Arcade game. The only thing that really points to this not being a mobile game is the fact you don’t need to wait for your energy to recharge (or pay for more).
It’s not to say it’s a bad thing by any means, mobile games are some of the most popular in the world. Candy Crush essentially created the formula that Grindstone and so many others follow. It is just something that needs to be noted before walking into it though. All around, Grindstone had some really good visuals though, and one thing you have to commend is the gore option. No blood, regular blood, or extra blood. What a brilliant idea!
For what is essentially a mobile port, the game looks quite good and makes good use of its cartoon-y and 2D graphics. Never taking itself seriously, but everything is distinguishable, now if only there was more variety to the stages
Very basic, tried-and-true formula with a mildly interesting puzzle aspect. While it is nothing new, it’s an entertaining game that the older generation is likely to enjoy on the Switch.
Music and sound effects are all around basic. It certainly doesn’t seem like there were many, if any, updates in this aspect made towards this port.
Fun Factor: 3.0
Very much a middle of the road game. It’s a good pick up and play for 10 minutes style of game. Given Switch has so many of these, I can’t say it stands out as a must have.
Final Verdict: 4.0
Grindstone is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Grindstone was provided by the publisher.