Last Christmas, I spent hours and hours playing Capybara Games' grid-based puzzler Grindstone on my Switch, gobbling up level after level of this joyful monster masher like an unattended tub of Cadbury's Heroes. I'd played a teensy bit of it when it first came out on Apple Arcade in 2019, but it quickly became apparent that this was exactly the type of game I'd rather play on a handheld. It was a gamble - back then, Capy hadn't announced if it was ever going to come to other platforms - but luckily my patience paid off. When it arrived on Switch last December, I secretly hoped it would eventually come to PC, too (if only so I could have an excuse to play it for work), and last week my wish came true, with Grindstone arriving on the Epic Games Store alongside its new Fortune Grind update.
When I heard the news, I felt a quiet sense of elation. I was happy that more people would now finally be able to experience Grindstone's delicious delights of slicing through its hordes of cute creep monsters in ever-increasing chains of fleshy meat chunks, but part of me's still very much wedded to the progress I've made over on my Switch save. Then I learned that Grindstone's PC release would have, and I quote, a "super innovative and groundbreaking windowed mode", and man alive, I think I've become addicted to it all over again.
I've never been one for having idle clicker games open when I'm working during the day, but the temptation to have an ongoing game of Grindstone whiling away in the corner of my screen these days is intense. It gets particularly bad whenever my cat comes to sit on me in the morning and I literally can't do anything else for a couple of minutes except flail my mouse around a bit. Indeed, this cat-based paralysis happens with such clockwork-like regularity that I now find my mouse cursor gravitating towards my Grindstone shortcut on my desktop almost of its own accord whenever I see her trot through my door after her morning jaunt outside. A little monster slice here, a quick cat stroke there. Job's a good'un.
And lemme tell ya, Grindstone works beautifully on PC. It probably still feels best with a controller under your thumbs, but dragging your mouse around each level's 7x7 grid and carving a path through its multi-coloured rows of giggling nasties by holding down the left click button is highly intuitive. You can also use right click to undo your last move, and mouse over the three special items you've chosen to take with you without having to touch a single keyboard command. Sure, you can also set your murderous mountaineer in motion with a tap of the space bar, but shunting your mouse over to the big GO! button in the corner is just as easy - particularly when you're weighed down by a purring ball of fluff on your chest.
I also love how you can just resize Grindstone's PC window on the fly, making it as big or as small as you like without upsetting your current game. It's a wonderful show of flexibility, making it even easier to slot between browser tabs, Slack chats and other important work tools so its bright, colourful creeps can chitter and snicker away at me in the background, luring me back to that never-ending mountain in distracted moments of weakness.
Ultimately, though, it's Grindstone's smart puzzle design that keeps me coming back level after level. You could describe it as a match-three for sake of ease, but there's so much more to it than that. In each stage, you're thrashing your way through a set amount of monsters before you can smash your way through the gate at the end of the grid and advance further up this enormous, creature-infested mountain. You're limited to cutting down monsters of the same colour, but chop down 10 or more of its cute but deadly critters and a shiny grindstone will explode onto the scene, allowing you to switch to another type of coloured monster and carry on your chain.
The key is chaining your kills to squish as many monsters as you can in one go. You don't get any points for it, but lemme tell ya, it is immensely satisfying to watch your hulking, shirtless mountaineer rampage through flesh and bone at ever faster speeds. Every animation is just so darn characterful, from the shivering, dread-filled faces of your prey to the way Jorg kicks and screams through the hordes. Heck, even the number of your chain starts to shake and fizz the higher it climbs, ramping up the anticipation until you let your swordsman fly in a crazed, frothing rage. It's just one joyous marriage of sight, sound and cerebral monster slaughter, and I often feel like letting out a roar of my own whenever I pull off a big, fat Grindstone chain. Or at least I would if it wouldn't freak out my cat and result in some very sharp claws being sunk into my tummy. I'm not yet ready for Grindstone's haptic feedback edition.
"I'm continually amazed at how each level manages to feel completely different from the last."
It's one thing racking up the 50 or so monsters you'll need to advance to the next stage, though. The real fun begins after the doors have been cracked open, as this is where you'll earn Grindstone's rarer, more difficult treasures: monster crowns to open up new areas, and locked loot chests that you'll need to fetch the key for and build up enough momentum to unlock. All the while, your surrounding monster pals are working themselves up into a frenzy, leaving fewer and fewer safe tiles to end your journey on.
It's here where you'll likely need to deploy the special items you've brought with you, whether that be one of its many shields to protect you from jerk attacks, or fire off an arrow to clear out a single monster to create a sneaky extension of your own attack chain. There are also special potions you can drink, too, my favourite one being the one that lets you jump to another tile on the grid to get you out of a tight spot. Blueprints for these items are often locked away in those tightly-guarded chests, so they're definitely worth sticking around for if you can take the heat.
I'm continually amazed at how each level manages to feel completely different from the last, too. There are so many levels in this game - even on my Switch save I've only completed 85 of its (at least) 175 in total (there are multiple extra dens with even more Grindstone goodness hidden away in them, making it difficult to judge exactly how many there are), and yet they all manage to feel unique and distinct, even when played in very quick succession. New enemy types are introduced with pleasing regularity, the layouts of each grid are constantly being switched up and remixed, introducing new hazards, obstacles and more to keep you on your toes, and the combination of higher-level foes changes all the time as well. There's never a dull moment in Grindstone, and every level feels like its own meaty, chunky challenge.
The fact that I can now also devour them all day everyday on PC is just the icing on an already very sweet and delicious cake.