Also On: Xbox Series X, PC
Publisher: Rogue Games
Developer: Subcult Joint
Twenty twenty three (2023) has been relentless with amazing releases this year, I thought we were finally at the end of that. Well, I was wrong. What appeared on my Twitter/X feed was Cookie Cutter, which appeared to be a hand-drawn, bloody-looking Metroidvania. This has been a year for these types of games too and while I’ve heard some are great, others not so much. I have not jumped into many but something about the art style and cover art drew me in.
Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are in my top 5 games of all time, so I’ve tended to show interest in Metroidvania-style games. My issue is there are so many over the years and several end up being Roguelike games, which is a major turn-off for me. This was not the case with Cookie Cutter, an indie game by a new developer called Subcult Joint. Here is a little blurb about the game’s story.
“RAGE AGAINST THE DYING WORLD, SUGAR
The Void. The Matter. The Megastructure. A dystopian world with an egomaniac leader determined to unveil the secrets of the universe. INFONET promised a utopia built on the backs of tireless androids called Denzels. It was a lie.
200 years later the planet is decaying, and the mysterious Red Seed has been stolen. Raz, a renegade mechanic, searches a hidden lab and discovers Denzel Cherry, butchered, and left for dead, clinging to life by sheer will alone. Her creator—and the love of her life, Doctor Shinji Fallon—has been taken by a demented sicko and Cherry intends to make him—and anybody or anything who gets in her way—pay.
Fueled by love and powered by rage, join Cherry on a blood-soaked quest for revenge as she explores the massive Megastructure and eviscerates the armies of INFONET in an unforgettable over-the-top 2D platformer that breaks tropes and bones.”
I do feel this is a game you need to see to believe so make sure to check out the trailer if you have not. Let’s get into it. There is a lot to love about Cookie Cutter, and I think players who play the game after reading this will have an even better experience than I did. This is of course due to some early launch bugs that caused some players, including myself, some frustration with progression which is why my review was slightly delayed.
I’ve been very active on Twitter (X), since starting the game and I see the actual developer active on there with the community and taking action to address the issues some have experienced. As far as I know, many were able to play with no issues. This affected consoles and PCs. Unlike many others, I will be very forgiving in the case of the progression delay, because of how fast it was addressed.
This is a Metroidvania unlike any other in many ways. The 2D hand-drawn art style is the first thing that draws you in. As I watched the introduction, I could not help but see inspiration from some of my favorites as a child like Astro Boy, to ’90s gritty comic Tank Girl. The initial 5 minutes are visually stunning, and how they animate the main protagonist Cheryl (Cherry) as she has been crushed to pieces but clings on to try and save her creator to no avail.
Cookie Cutter is a revenge story with some great voice acting early on, but this would leave to some disappointment as the rest of the game has zero VO work. I would assume this may have been a budget constraint but would have loved more from the various characters you encounter. This will not in any way affect the overall experience, but it will be important to address.
Like all games inspired by Metroidvania before it, you will start will basic melee attacks and will learn quickly that certain areas require certain abilities like a double jump, or a weapon to unlock doors. While it may sound like they are using the “COOKIE CUTTER” formula, I assure you this is not the case throughout. For example, one of my favorite components of the game is the healing system.
There is no food to be found or even a way to restore health at a save station. With Cherry, she can self-heal and all I think about for some reason is Alchemy. Outside her health meter is a Void meter, which is what is used for your weapons and abilities as you progress through the game. The Void is depleted in various amounts based on the weapon/ability but using your melee attacks on enemies will help replenish it. If you find yourself low on health, holding down on the d-pad will cause Cherry to use her Void to heal. It’s a true moment of equivalent exchange since you must balance the two in the heat of a fight at any given time.
This can be frustrating as you need time to do this and are vulnerable but can get items to improve this later. The next portion is the several weapons you will get along Cherry’s journey for revenge. You get a gauntlet in the beginning which becomes your first hard attack and can be upgraded later. You will eventually collect a chainsaw and even a fricken motorcycle as a weapon. It’s absurd and I loved it.
The abilities fall more in line with the games that inspired CC. As I mentioned earlier, a double jump is one, but some are used for puzzle-type portions of the game. You will obtain these through a variety of biomes that all have various enemy types, and rooms where you get ambushed in a sort of horde more and need to survive to proceed. These can be pure nightmare fuel if you are not careful, but I will say CC is very forgiving in this right as when you die, you will be re-created in the last checkpoint and guess what — no currency is lost!
This is not a Rogue or Souls like, and I’m grateful for that. There are plenty of great ones out there but it’s not what I wanted with CC so I’m happy it was not the case. As the Director/Artist of the game mentioned on social media this is a chill game and I have to agree.
The music is another one of my favorite elements of the game. The game is littered with Easter Eggs galore in the world of music. It’s a lot of fun to be playing the game, find a hidden room and see some art that is for a video game character or musician in Cookie Cutter world. Then there is the music design, some great chill jazz fusion peppered in with some heavy metal riffs at appropriate times. It’s a great blend of various styles but fit each biome you visit and the entire world that is the Megastructure.
It’s tough that this came out at the end of the year, because this is easily a high rank in my games of 2023 for sure (and included in our Best Games of 2023 special), and really hope more will pick it up and discover it, so the team can make more for us to play. Also this is the second game I’ve ever earned a Platinum PlayStation trophy for, which says a lot for me.
I must be fair, because I did have issues with the launch release, but at the same time the studio was able to get it patched so quickly and I was able to move forward so that the review did not sway in a more negative way. There have been some great improvements that will elevate the game and I’m confident that when more voice their thoughts the devs will listen and make it better. Give Cookie Cutter a try! You won’t regret it.
Rogue Games provided us with a Cookie Cutter PS5 code for review purposes.