Introducing the egomaniacal and sadistic Salem Garbanzos, the perverse despot who takes the reins of the Megacorporation INFONET. Let’s uncover who the main villain of Cookie Cutter really is.
We return to talk about Cookie Cutter, the upcoming techno-pop-punk post-kawaii Metroidvania in the works at Subcult Joint LTD and published by Rogue Games (you can find our in-depth coverage of the game, here).
A project that has enchanted us right from the start, partly due to its irreverent, unconventional, and daring nature, as well as the communicative power of its themes, but also owing to its hyper-violent, dynamic, and high-speed gameplay, making it one of the most interesting and peculiar Metroidvanias on the horizon.
Today, we delve even deeper into its themes and characters, focusing our attention on one of the most complex and iconic figures in the game – our “old friend,” Salem Garbanzos. Salem embodies one of the most twisted, deranged, and disturbed personalities in the game, standing as the fierce arch-nemesis of our protagonist, Cherry.
Are you ready to uncover details and information about this shady and sinister individual? Stay with us, and we’ll tell you all about him.
Who is Salem Garbanzos?
Leader of the toxic and authoritarian Megacorporation INFONET, self-proclaimed herald of a new order, Salem Garbanzos is the main villain in Cookie Cutter. He’s the man, the scoundrel for whom Cherry nurtures a deep-seated grudge.
As we can see from the in-game footage unveiled by Subcult Joint LTD and Rogue Games during the Feardemic’s Fear Fest, the villain, on the other hand, treats Cherry with indifference, disdain, disgust, insensitivity, as if she were a worthless android ready for the slaughter. He won’t hesitate for a moment to bring her suffering to a gruesome, horrifying, and bloodthirsty conclusion in front of her creator, the most important person in her life.
Salem is a ruthless and unscrupulous individual perched atop the INFONET pyramid, advocating for a new regime built on authority and control. He commands a robotized army ready to kill anyone who approaches him. He ensconces himself within the confines of the Megastructure, an ultra-advanced technological structure powered by power and technology, teeming with deadly traps and technological abominations. He has turned it into his headquarters, an impenetrable stronghold.
Salem is the architect of a dystopian reality cloaked in utopian promises, a society that had promised progress, one that should have been supported by active robots called Denzels, not a regime based on force and control, where the tireless Denzels couldn’t even complete the simplest tasks. A lie. Progress turned into regress. Evolution turned into devolution.
He is also the kidnapper of Dr. Shinji Fallon, the most brilliant engineer of this era, and, as you well know, the creator of Cherry.
While his origins remain shrouded in mystery, we know all too well about his present and the motivations that drove him to kidnap Dr. Fallon…
Why did Salem kidnap Dr. Shinji Fallon?
What does the leader of INFONET want from Shinji? Why kidnap her, arrest her, and take her away from Cherry?
There are several reasons that might have driven Salem to commit such a cowardly act, including the outstanding engineering skills possessed by Shinji Fallon. She is indeed the greatest, brightest, and most talented engineer this age has ever seen. For this reason, we believe that Salem’s feelings could be tainted by envy and resentment, culminating in a grave accusation. Shinji has, in fact, been accused of stealing the Red Seed, a powerful fragment of the Void, a sentient energy source used to power the Megastructure, Salem’s opulent City of Gold.
Matters of the heart might also come into play, and none of these options can be dismissed. Who’s to say that Salem and Shinji didn’t share a past romantic relationship, with her being an ex-flame of the INFONET leader? As we’ve mentioned before, Salem’s initial feelings towards Cherry during their first encounter were indifference and contempt, but who’s to say jealousy didn’t come into play on Salem’s part? What drove him to order his Dickheads to maim and end Cherry’s existence? The android was already in a battered state, at the end of her life…
However, at least for the time being, all indications seem to lead to a matter of purely personal interest: safeguarding his corporation, fueling his company’s productivity and influence, and, above all, reclaiming what Shinji took and stole without permission.
A definitely… Exuberant Villain
Salem is one of those characters you either love or hate, sometimes both, “Odi et Amo”, as Catullus said in the opening lines of his Poem 85.
Elegant and impeccably dressed, in keeping with the INFONET dress code, Salem Garbanzos exudes an exuberant and egocentric personality. His clothing, always clean, immaculate and neatly arranged, bestows upon him the air of a refined businessman. He sports very short hair, which forms a distinctive red cross atop his head. Other defining features include tattoos, heavy makeup, and a characteristic blue stripe that adorns and partially conceals his face.
However, it’s in his character and behavior that Salem Garbanzos reveals his pronounced and twisted personality, along with his darker sides. He is profoundly egocentric, perverse, and unbalanced, reflecting his unconventional ways. His egocentrism knows no bounds, always ready to elevate himself to a pedestal. In some ways, he might remind you of the deranged Joker from Batman, especially in his actions, thoughts, and his irreverence, occasionally coupled with a total lack of self-control.
On the other hand, Salem is an extremely dangerous and intelligent individual, unbalanced but still lethal. He craves power and control above all else. And if he can’t obtain it through diplomatic means, he will resort to force.
That’s why he’s always accompanied by two loyal bodyguards, hulking brutes better known as the Dickheads, or if you prefer, D.W. K200, powerful and colossal androids with a “phallic” shape, armed to the teeth with either firearms or mighty battle clubs. Salem delegates to them all the heaviest and most arduous tasks, and the reason behind this is quite apparent…
How is Salem’s Character Design brought to life?
Let’s delve into another aspect of Cookie Cutter that we find particularly intriguing. As you may remember, in the main article dedicated to the game, we talked about how the artistic component stands out as one of the most captivating and compelling aspects of Subcult Joint LTD’s Metroidvania.
Character design, in particular, serves as the centerpiece of this achievement, fully embracing the punk-inspired direction the developers aimed for in the production. The design of the main villain is, of course, no exception. Original and peculiar, Salem’s character design is a fusion of style, non-conformity, and excess, from his colorful and striking personality to his exaggerated facial animations. He is an utterly unique villain, yet, on the other hand, draws inspiration from some iconic figures in the artistic, musical, and gaming worlds.
The first inspiration was revealed directly by the development team through an Instagram post, quoting the famous line: “She’s got eyes like Zapruder, mouth like heroin,” from Marilyn Manson’s Posthuman. In some ways, there are elements that reminded us of him, and it’s truly a delight to see how the developers drew inspiration from such an eclectic and extraordinary artist.
Another important inspiration, confirmed by Subcult Joint LTD, comes again from the artistic and musical world, namely the co-founder and frontman of The Prodigy, Keith Flint, who has sadly passed away for over four years now.
Last but certainly not least is a particularly iconic character, which nostalgics (ourselves included) who owned the NES and Commodore 64 will surely remember – the eerie and spine-chilling Doctor Fred Edison from Maniac Mansion. What memories, and what suspense!
Who will be Salem Garbanzos’ voice actor?
Many performers to consider, a numerous talented voice actors to choose from, and only one question. Who will be the voice actor tasked with bringing Salem to life?
Fortunately, we have an answer to this question as well. It will, in fact, be the brilliant voice actor Themba Robin who will shoulder the responsibility and honor of channeling the distinctive personality of Cookie Cutter’s main antagonist. Young, promising, and with a bright career ahead, Themba Robin is a talented South African actor with extensive experience in the world of acting, voice acting, and as an MC.
The actor, in fact, holds a broad and rich portfolio in the world of acting, including a substantial theater experience, appearances in films and television shows, and, as a voice actor, contributing his voice to a wide spectrum of projects, ranging from animations to video games, and commercials.
Furthermore, Themba Robin is also an influential content creator on social media, where he humorously and passionately shares insights about his profession, his life, and his deep affection for his homeland, South Africa.
We’d like to remind you that Cookie Cutter will soon launch on PC, but, as the developers have announced, a console release is also in the works. This Metroidvania game will be the debut title from Subcult Joint LTD, published by Rogue Games.
Thank you for following us so far. Stay tuned with us for the latest updates and information about the game.
That’s all for today. Talk to you soon.