STAFF REVIEW of Cookie Cutter (Xbox Series X)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Cookie Cutter Box art Judging by its name alone, you’d assume that Cookie Cutter is something completely different from what it actually is. It does not involve any sugary treats you might expect, but instead revolves around a futuristic dystopia that is filled to the brim with blood, gore and violence, but looks great doing so. A love and revenge story wrapped in Metroidvania gameplay, Cookie Cutter is a flashy 2D platformer that feels different than others in the genre, as well as being quite challenging, but for non-designed reasons.

INFONET promised a utopia that would be built upon the backs of androids, known as Denzels. Like most stories with this setup, this was all fine and dandy for a short while, but then the proverbial crap hits the fan. Shinji Fallon is a brilliant engineer who creates Denzels, creating a special one named Cherry. Unexpectedly, they fall in love with one another, so you’d expect they have a wonderful life together. Well, this doesn’t last long of course. INFONET’s leader, who appears like a clone of Marilyn Manson, decides that they need Shinji to work for them, so they take her by force. Of course Cherry tries to stop this from happening, but in the process, she’s brutally destroyed right in front of Shinji. Even broken into pieces, you try to chase after your love, but are executed in gruesome fashion. I told you the game title alone doesn’t prepare you.

You suddenly awaken one day, unsure where you are. Turns out a mechanic, Raz, found you and repaired you. Now that you’ve been rebuilt and repaired, Cherry has revenge on her mind, to save her creator and love of her life, and if she needs to take down all of INFONET to do so, she will, as violently as possible.

While Cherry is a badass android that can fight, she can’t do it alone, so you’ll have a sidekick that gives you advice along the way, though I guarantee you won’t see this coming. Regina and Cherry will have plenty of conversations, and it might take you a moment to put two and two together, but Regina is your... robotic vagina. That’s right, your sidekick is your talking vulva down in your nether regions. Again, something the title alone couldn’t have prepared you for.

A Metroidvania at its core, you’ll be exploring this sidescroller and destroying any other robots and enemies along the way. Rooms and areas begins simple enough, slowly adding more traps and dangers. The best part is that you can use these buzz saw or electricity traps against your enemies, as knocking them into said pits will cause them to take damage as well.

In true Metroidvania fashion, you’re going to come across areas you can’t access the first time you get there, but eventually you’ll get upgrades that allow you to gain admittance to new areas, allowing for more upgrades and getting closer to extracting your revenge on INFONET. Now and then you’ll come across some warp points, though I do wish there were more for when you need to backtrack or go another way.

Combat begins simple enough, using ‘X’ to punch and kick to attack your enemies, also able to combine with 'Up' to launch enemies in the air for some combos. Your regular attacks can do the job, but will take a lot of spamming to actually defeat the harder enemies. When an enemy is low on health, you can use ‘Y’ to execute them with a finisher, also refilling some of your energy which can be used for heavy attacks. Learning your combos and juggling enemies is going to be imperative when things become much harder the closer to INFONET you get.

While you can use your stored energy to use some heavy attacks and quickly down some enemies, I opted to not do so, as it’s the same resource needed to heal yourself if needed. While this makes you vulnerable as you channel your stored energy into health, it’s a necessity when things don’t go to plan. This becomes apparent early on once you reach some rooms that trap you inside until all enemies are defeated. Seems like no big deal with one or two enemies at first, but eventually these rooms will have an overwhelming amount of enemies that will cause some deaths and restarts at the last checkpoint you reached.

This is where combat becomes very chaotic and you start to feel some of the holes in the fighting mechanics. The biggest flaw without a doubt is the parry system. In theory, you can press a single button, parry an enemy attack, and defeat them. In practice though, you’ll be lucky if you’re able to make it work even close to half the time. For the life of me, I simply couldn’t get the parry to work, even on the basic enemies. They do give a slight indication of their attack that’s about to happen, but the reaction window to react seems so small that it feels broken. I could parry an enemy here and there, then mistime the next ten and end up dying. And that’s just one on one versus a single enemy. As soon as you have two or more, there’s virtually no point trying, as when you don’t hit the parry in time, you’re open for attack. You can’t parry projectiles either, so you’ll also need to rely on your dodge much of the time instead. Facing a boss where you need to parry their attacks, and you can see where a bunch of my frustration started to set in.

This is exactly why I opted to always save my energy to use for self-heals, as every time I didn’t parry properly, I took a massive amount of damage. I honestly just thought that maybe I misunderstood the parry mechanic or was doing something wrong, so I checked online, only to find out that it seems to be a common ‘problem’ with many others trying to enjoy Cookie Cutter to its fullest as well. If I was able to perform parries whenever I wanted, one shotting enemies and refilling my health for doing so, I’d breeze through Cherry’s quest, instead dying quite often and becoming frustrated cause it just feels off. I actually simply just stopped trying to parry, relying on dodges and normal attacks instead, which made every fight slog on.

As you explore each new area, you’ll gain new abilities and fight new enemy types along the way. While you can expect the usual types of abilities and upgrades like dashes and double jumps, in an interesting twist, your new combat abilities are also how you’ll gain access and reach new areas. As you combat new enemy types, certain abilities will be best suited for certain types, but I found myself falling back on what simply seemed easiest, as it can become chaotic at times.

While the combat frustrated me at every turn, the visual aesthetic was easily its highlight. Everything appears to be hand drawn and animated, and done amazingly well. While there’s a hefty amount of blood and gore, it’s all a spectacle to take in. Even the designs of enemies and Cherry herself feels unique and not what you’d normally expect. Finishers are over the top and gory, and the animation is quite slick overall. The metal soundtrack that kicks in during boss fights and certain moments amps up the experience as a whole. I do wish there was some voice acting aside from the opening moments, as I’d be curious what hearing Cherry and Regina banter would be like back and forth.

While all the pieces are there for a great Metroidvania, complete with unique setting and characters, Cookie Cutter frustrated me more often than not due to the broken parry system that rarely works as advertised. I wasn’t expecting to play a love-revenge story as a lesbian android that talks to her robotic vagina, filled with violence and gore, but it certainly was a memorable adventure.

**Cookie Cutter was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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