Grindstone Nintendo Switch Impressions – Rise and Grind
CAPY Games' latest Mobile hit Grindstone finally made its way to Switch after being announced months ago. Unsurprisingly, it's real fun.
As a long-time Android user, nothing and I mean nothing (not even blue text bubbles) has made me envy iOS users more than Apple Arcade. Subscription services like Game Pass and PS+ garner press on a level that it really can’t rival, especially since the ‘hardcore’ gaming audience tends to cast a wide stroke and ignore most mobile games.
Even people who’ve taken the time to jump into Apple Arcade and publicly talked about it make it seem like a novelty rather than an opportunity to deliver unique and innovative games. However, Grindstone is one of the few games that made the subscription seem worth it. Needless to say, when it was put on the Switch, I gladly jumped on it. I had to check out one of the best games Apple Arcade had to offer. Drawing from games like Bejeweled or Puzzle Quest, Grindstone delivers new character and depth to a genre that’s often mired in soulless microtransactions and stale gameplay.
Unassuming and uncomplicated, the setup for the game is simple; you’re Jorj, a vaguely Nordic warrior who wants to get to the top of Grindstone Mountain. To get there, you’ll have to match together chains of brightly colored enemies, resources, and obstacles to addictive results.
Built on top of the framework of a gameplay loop that’s been manicured over the years to be the perfectly addictive blend of approachable and satisfying, Grindstone does its best to set itself apart from its brethren. From dynamic animations and spritework to colorful character design reminiscent of a Cartoon Network show, Grindstone’s presentation goes above and beyond. In most games of its ilk, popping bubbles or juicing fruit just results in a little splat or pop. In Grindstone, Jorj’s targets cower in fear as he slashes through them like a hot knife through butter.
Even the in-game shop where Jorj spends his hard-earned resources and grindstones oozes charm, with cute dialog exchanges. Whether it’s for making nifty, craftable items, or just healing up between levels, the Inn has a lot to explore. To make things more interesting, as Jorj progresses, more and more rooms in the Inn are made available, each offering new gameplay or cosmetic enhancements.
After equipping the best possible armor and healing up at the tavern, setting out to take on a few levels is a dangerous task. Not because of anything that happens in the game, just because of how addictive it is. I’ve been known to play my Switch during Zoom lectures here and there. I could barely put the game down to deliver a presentation that I’d worked on for weeks because I was just that hooked.
There’s a fine line that almost all puzzle games walk between making the player feel smart and getting difficulty just right. Other indie games like Slay the Spire and Into the Breach have built their cult following on masterfully nailing this balance. Grindstone, while never as deep as either of those games, is able to hit that balance just right. I came for the matching, but I stayed for the push-and-pull that comes with it.
The risk-reward factor that comes with clearing all potential matches from the board only to meet a swift end the next round introduces the perfect level of strategy that plays with the game’s accessible depth perfectly.
Like most games of its kind, Grindstone even offers multiple daily challenges with varying rewards based on the different types of challenges you take on and how well you do. It does a great job of offering side challenges that are much more varied from the main game, making it feel a bit more fresh.
As someone who’s never had access to an iPhone, games like What the Golf? and Grindstone that push the boundaries of mobile game design are super interesting to me, even if I end up playing them on my TV.
Grindstone delivers what can only be described as the best of both worlds. It has the overall presentation and depth of a more traditional game with a highly addictive and accessible gameplay loop of the best mobile games. If this is reflective of the games found in Apple Arcade, I might have to switch platforms.