Developed By: Subcult Joint LTD
Published By: Rogue Games, Inc.
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC
Reviewed On: PC
This Christmas, I was in the mood for a more seasonal Christmas pummelling akin to Streets of Rage with a dash of 2D Metroidvania hence I’ve gotten myself a copy of Cookie Cutter. At first, it starts strong in its introductions and vibrant animation as well as 2D combat but it gradually tones down everything else to a dry/quieter experience over time, losing some of its initial flavored punch as if it got cut out. Here is my review of Cookie Cutter.
Animations And Level Designs | Crunchy yet slightly burnt
Picture this, playing as a comic book character with curvy thighs and hips, with wide smiles dressing up as a diner waitress, unleashing brutal finishers animations on the robots as she pummels them. The enemies and Cherry look to be a wacky cartoon in designs which in its essence, the body movements and animations are visually appealing as she dashes, leaps (revealing her undergarments), and deals blows to various robotic foes.
While the initial enemy designs are different and come with one or two flavored attacks – they become less diverse as you progress with multiple colored skins and increased tanky toughness enemies later, including the bosses.
After a while, the attack animations in both enemies and bosses are easily predicted as their variations in attacks are limited however their multiple ranged attacks tend to track down your movements even if you initially dodged them early which can get frustrating over time.
The level designs on the other hand emphasize large multiple-branched tunnels resembling expansive ant colony tunnels, which branch out extensively. However, this has fewer save points or checkpoints, making frequent backtracking or repeated deaths lead to frequent burnout. That’s why a more condensed and visually captivating design would be preferable.
Preferred because the level designs are mostly designed like a cyberpunk junkyard throughout in different lighting that can get boring over time.
Gameplay | Crisped yet crumbly.
You play as Cherry beats up robots as she seeks revenge on a nefarious corporation. Unleashing punches, kicks, and stylish uppercuts in your relentless assault via upwards attack (up directional button + attack button) in addition to downward slams as normal attacks. Normal attacks gain energy for Cherry to heal via the down button or utilized as heavy attacks.
Tip: Uppercut attacks via normal/heavy attacks tend to stagger and juggle opponents more however this may not apply to harder or minibosses enemies at the later stages.
In addition, Cherry can parry enemies’ attacks or follow up attacks with alternate heavy attacks midway via a triangle button at the top that adds a kicking-ass enhanced heavy attack with flair to your combos that deplete your energy. When your foes are on the brink of defeat in staggered animation be it attacks or parried at the right moment, trigger a cinematic finisher with the same triangle button for a variety of brutal, enemy-specific animations in a satisfying beatdown.
At the near-end stage, parry is the most important counter against enemies however at times I will miss some of the cues as enemies strike due to delays or animation hiccups.
The catch is that you need to equip extra components for extra attacks and damage using limited energy slots, scattered sparingly across levels. As mentioned above, the vastness of levels makes backtracking a chore, limiting your initial component options. Other than that most of the harder enemies are tanker and hit longer and harder till the point of a two-hit kill.
Despite the emphasis of intense heavy action and brutal animations, the repetitive pace with bosses and enemy hordes can become monotonous which can be a constant grind, and the experience will trickle down to a crumbling grind over and over.
Sounds | Mild Crunch Yet Mostly Soggy
The overall sound effects department of punching and kicking always adds explosive-sounding blows that bring out the gameplay experience more.
But in terms of the overall music, the game starts strong with its initial voice lines and introductions but brittles down once you start in the diner town and levels with no voice-speaking NPCs. Like its level designs, most of the songs in the game are mostly bass pretty dry and dreary accompanied by factory-like environment sounds- demonstrating a bleak future in the Cyberpunk setting.
However remember the level designs are vast and similar, hence the music doesn’t elevate the experience further in most areas. That being said, the music only elevates with louder percussions and electronic tunes mostly during certain segments such as horde fights or boss fights.
Storytelling | Brittle
Storytelling in Cookie Cutter kicks off strong with voice acting, introducing the birth of Denzel robots and Cherry, a creation born out of escape. The tale takes a predictable turn as Cherry faces adversity, is bashed into pieces, and the professor who created and fell in love with her is abducted by an evil corporation.
While the introductions and ending do captivate somewhat, the process throughout lacks voice acting and the same narrative vigor to keep it as captivating. With a predictable non-existent plot twist that could diminish the overall interest levels overall, leaving the world feeling dry and left unexplored in the NPC’s chemistry and world-building.
Lacking the depth needed to sustain interest beyond the initial and final moments.
What I Liked About Cookie Cutter
- Gameplay – Engaging brutal 2D combat and movement motions
- Level Designs – Vast like an ant tunnel
- Enemies and character designs- Wacky looney toons designs
- Songs – Combat songs and attack sounds have a boom to them.
What I Wished Was Better
- Gameplay – Enemies could use more variety in attacks, most of them felt predictable to parry. Lack of energy points to utilize more components and moves. Puzzle elements in platforming are very linear and easy.
- Level Design – Way too vast without proper checkpoints, making me backtrack even more grindy.
- Level designs – felt similar in a junkyard design setting in most areas.
- Songs – Other than combat, everything else sounds dry and flat.
- Storytelling – Other than the starting point, everything else feels linear and flat.
- Bugs/Glitches – Level transitions tend to flicker and stuck on a screen which rarely occurs but permanently affects my gameplay, forcing me to restart. At times some enemies’ attacks are timed right in parrying but aren’t executed.
Verdict | Fun But Robotic
My time with Cookie Cutter was a blast, especially in the thrilling combat and brutal animations. But beyond that point onwards, it lacks the inspiration for a more engaging gameplay experience as well as its world-building or bonds to form with more NPCs.
If you can turn a blind eye to the long constant backtracking and repetitive gameplay loops in pacing. It might suit your taste and fit right into your boxing gloves of pummelling. On a personal level, I’d prefer to wait for a sale, as the animations and combat alone may not justify a full-price purchase.