Death to INFONET, death to the Garbanzos!

Cookie Cutter

We took our time – quite a bit of it, you might say – but we deemed it necessary to return to discuss Cookie Cutter with all the care and attention it warrants. It’s more than just a creative work; it’s the fruit of sacrifice, sweat, passion, sometimes pain – subtly hinted at, yet profoundly felt – by those who have poured days, months, even years of effort into its creation, sometimes at the risk of pushing themselves to the limit and compromising the most important thing: their own physical and mental well-being.

But as you know, passion – much like love often does – drives us to do seemingly insane things. It’s what wakes us up in the morning, what we fight for every day, the driving force of our human soul. It’s all so wonderfully mad, yet so wonderfully romantic, wouldn’t you agree?

The story of Cookie Cutter is the romantic tale of a game studio, Subcult Joint, embarking on their first collective project in the video game industry. It’s the story of a team, and one individual in particular, Stefano Guglielmana, who never held back, never gave up in the face of adversity. Even when the odds appeared insurmountable, he sacrificed everything, or close to it, in pursuit of his passion (you can find the story we refer to here).

Cookie Cutter is a romantic, celebratory, nonconformist, and revolutionary Metroidvania, embodying the innovative spirit of its creators. It’s not content to merely follow the rules; its purpose is to break them. Otherwise, what kind of subversive Metroidvania would it be?

We’ve extensively played it, and we’re finally ready to discuss it without filters in our review. Did Subcult Joint’s debut video game manage to impress us? Follow along to find out, and oh, please be mindful of spoilers!

In The Name of Love

We had hoped to use a quote, an aphorism that could convey the depth of the bond between Cherry, the protagonist, and Shinji Fallon, the engineer behind Cherry’s creation, and the true essence of “love.” But upon careful consideration, it’s probably not the right approach; Cherry’s fierce temperament and her damned and beautiful irreverence would never allow us to be overly sentimental!

Cookie Cutter is a tale of vengeance, rage, anguish, rebellion, redemption, but above all, it embodies the true essence of “love,” expressed in every language known to humankind. A story that, by the end of your initial playthrough, will likely leave you with a lump in your throat, a bitter aftertaste, perhaps even moved to tears, or maybe you’ll just get a headache because you still haven’t figured out what the hell the Megastructure is (and for this reason, we highly recommend revisiting our preview to avoid stumbling in the dark). But trust us, you’ll fall in love with the story, with Cherry, with everything. While it’s not our intention to spoil anything, allow us to provide a glimpse into this tale, avoiding spoilers as much as possible.

The love that Subcult Joint seeks to portray is an atypical, unconventional love. As the unequivocally universal Director revealed, it’s the love story between a human being, engineer Shinji Fallon, and her most astonishing creation, the Denzel Cherry. A masterpiece of engineering, Cherry is an android seemingly devoid of emotions and empathy, yet concealing much more than meets the eye within its mechanical frame—a deep bond with its creator.


In just a few days, their lives feel whole. Cherry, now sentient, and engineer Fallon experience extraordinary days, bathed in the warmth of a love that seems to endure for eternity. Time almost appears to stand still…

But as it’s known, even the most beautiful love stories aren’t meant to last forever. Often, we must wake up from the dream and face reality. And this is where our worst nightmare comes into play—the one who will bring an end to our love idyll. Garbanzos, a shady figure leading an obsessive corporation, is poised to unveil the secrets of the Universe at the head of an army of Denzels. He had promised a better world, to transform it into a terrestrial paradise, a utopia where every human could attain the immortality of the soul and return to life, even after death, in mechanical bodies. Pfft, all lies. The shells of the Denzels were nothing but a trap, designed to imprison souls for eternity and bolster the workforce of their corporation, INFONET.

Two centuries after this false promise, the once-familiar world is nothing but a faint memory, subject to the whims of grotesque creatures. It has been reduced to a collection of decaying factories and deserted places, polluted by the affliction he unleashed upon it.

Cookie Cutter
The dreadful night of Cherry’s massacre and Shinji Fallon’s arrest

Yet, there are those who had foreseen this catastrophe and are doing everything possible to delay the final collapse. Shinji Fallon, a former engineer at INFONET, rebelled against the reckless actions of the Garbanzos family—the only one, perhaps not the only one, to have had the courage to see through the corruption of the corporation and defy the autocratic order imposed by INFONET. She stole their most precious possession, an artifact destined to change things and disrupt that diseased order. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction until that night, that cursed night, when in a horrific blitz by Salem Garbanzos and his henchmen, Shinji Fallon was arrested for high treason, and Cherry was literally massacred by Salem’s bodyguards.

The epilogue? No, the prologue. Yes, because Cherry, despite being reduced to a thousand pieces, will be rescued in the nick of time by Raz, a friendly outlaw mechanic and dear friend of Shinji’s. She will be rebuilt, ready to reclaim her lost love and make those who were about to ruin her life pay dearly.

Did you just call me crazy?!

If there’s one thing we’ve enjoyed more than Cookie Cutter’s story and its rebellious techno-pop-punk soul, it’s the NPCs and their distinct personalities, which we believe perfectly characterize the diversity present in the Megastructure. These characters are truly unconventional, seeming to come from another universe but typical of the punk background that the development team has never really hidden.

From the rebellious and seemingly arrogant leader of the outcasts in Bastardville, Puanani, who we discover is actually quite tender-hearted, to the wise Denzel Althea and her community of Awakened Denzels, the Megastructure is home to some of the quirkiest and most eccentric personalities you’ll encounter. Some will become your friends and companions throughout your journey until the credits roll, while others will try to throw a wrench in your plans. There will be some you won’t even understand why you met them, and you probably won’t miss them either. And then there are those who will simply evoke pity, like poor Toshibo, one of the first NPCs you’ll encounter, lying on the ground, agonizing, on the brink of transforming into a K-Breed.

How could we forget dear old Regina, our most faithful traveling companion and the answer to all our questions? An irreverent talking vagina, acting as our operating system in Shinji’s absence, she’s particularly lively and sassy, not hesitating to give us a sharp response if we dare to question her abilities.

And then there’s Cherry, not an NPC but our protagonist. A character who won’t take long to reveal her badass personality to you. Tough, sometimes cocky and rude, recklessly impulsive at times, yet human. An android who has nothing in common with her fellow Denzels—aside from her sturdy steel fists—empathetic, sentient, feeling fear, terror, pain, and experiencing true love firsthand.

The feeling we’ve experienced – and we hope you’ve felt it too – is a constant blend of wonder and strangeness, tinged with amazement, as if to make us wonder, how did we end up in this cage of madmen?

Jokes and eccentricities aside, every NPC you encounter, whether it’s a merchant trying to peddle strange stolen artifacts, the sprightly Poppah, or the eccentric Foby Tox – a peculiar human dressed as a feline, eager to socialize with the fierce creatures dwelling in the Megastructure – each character is truly one-of-a-kind. They’ll grant you moments of levity amidst the chaos, some sharing touching stories while others reveal glimpses of their past lives before their souls were encased in their new, oppressive electro-titanium bodies.

It’s a cast you’ll grow to love, whether for their quirky designs, their outlandish behavior, or simply because, without their help, you’d probably have no chance of surviving the intricate network of the Megastructure.

A Metroidvania that isn’t afraid to express itself

Cookie Cutter is a Metroidvania with a prickly, belligerent character; at times, it can seem overly explicit, but on one thing, we agree. It doesn’t mince words, nor does it attempt to do so. It’s direct, damn honest, sometimes even seems to not give a damn about your feelings.

It’s a video game that doesn’t hesitate to throw the cold, hard truth in your face with themes, albeit intentionally exaggerated, that are extremely relevant, showing you the rot that lurks behind society—a world that’s crude, cowardly, dishonest, leaving behind the weakest, the defenseless, those who cannot contribute positively to the cause.

And we’re not just talking about its hyper-violent nature or its bloody gameplay, but about a true language that spares no one. Don’t want nudity references? Well, here you have a talking vagina companion that will accompany you from start to finish of your journey. Want less violence? Tough luck, because you’ll come across splattered guts, blood spewing, and agonizing enemies waiting for your coup de grâce. Are you sensitive to swearing? Well, in Cookie Cutter, expect dialogue lines packed with profanity, insults, and the occasional death threat.

But you know what’s the point? That’s the beauty of Cookie Cutter, tackling themes with extreme hilarity that are anything but trivial, hiding behind its rough and provocative shell a beautiful soul. And it’s an approach we find remarkably effective. Yes, it’s playful, ironic, and over-the-top, much like its characters, yet it doesn’t come across as contrived, out of place, or in poor taste. At the same time, it’s incredibly mature, capable of eliciting hearty laughter while also offering moments of profound sadness and melancholy.

And we understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. This edgy aspect might not resonate with all players, but we assure you that by approaching these apparently light-hearted moments with irony, you’ll fully appreciate the deeper and more complex themes at the core of the title, including a subtle – yet not overly so – critique of the contemporary video game industry.

Game world, exploration, and platforming

When the developers first revealed it to us, they were deadly serious, and for good reason. The Megastructure is truly massive—a substantial and tightly interconnected network of areas lying beneath the isolated Golden City, the opulent and impenetrable residence of the Garbanzos family, reserved exclusively for society’s elite. Meanwhile, everyone else—the flawed Denzels, the less affluent citizens, all those whom the Garbanzos deem society’s rejects—reside in what we might call the Underbelly, where INFONET dumps everything it finds undesirable: failed experimental subjects, toxic substances, filth of all kinds, turning ordinary life into a veritable hell.

It’s precisely here, in the Hidden Diner, after Salem Garbanzos’ blitz, that our adventure truly begins. Right after allowing us to become acquainted with the controls, it immediately presents us with a fork in the road—the choice between two areas. And so the questions start: “Which area is the right one? Would it be easier to go right or left?”

The map

Indeed, in exploration, no choice can be deemed right or wrong. Right from our early hours in Cookie Cutter, we noticed a non-linear exploration, which despite its apparent freedom, won’t allow you to do as you please or reach all points of interest on the map immediately, as is only natural. In fact, the exploratory aspect is closely linked to acquiring certain abilities, such as double jumping, wall sliding, and moving specific objects, without which you cannot progress and will be “forced” to alternate between areas and defeat the boss or reach a specific location to acquire that ability.

The game world is vast, comprising a total of 8 macro-areas, each of which harbors numerous points of interest including hidden dungeons, dedicated quests, boss fights, easter eggs and essential activities to unlock the next area and progress the story, amounting to approximately 20 hours of gameplay (to obtain all trophies, you’ll need at least another 10 hours, unless you decide to focus immediately on achieving the platinum trophy).

Exploration and platforming are truly rewarding and engaging, thanks in part to the excellent level design by Subcult Joint and the team’s adept handling of the gradual acquisition of abilities, which makes traversing and exploring areas a real delight.

A fun Easter egg dedicated to the Blasphemous series

While, in our opinion, there could have been a bit more daring in the design of the environments and in the diversity of the world, which unfortunately appear somewhat bare and anonymous in purely aesthetic terms and lack the right elements to adequately fill the areas – an example of this is the Electro-Titanium Foundry – when compared to the splendid design of Cherry, NPCs, and some enemies.

Endless bloodshed

In Cookie Cutter, the brawls are intense, relentless, and unapologetic, as we expected. From our early hours spent with the game, we noticed a nearly visceral care and attention to the combat system and Cherry’s progression system, an approach that, we must say, doesn’t quite align with the style of modern Metroidvania games but rather nods more towards productions of the ’90s or early 2000s.

It starts with our sturdy steel fists and gradually progresses, with a meticulously crafted management of the system, weapons, and abilities, as we’ve discussed previously, to heavy artillery. From simple weapons given to us by NPCs we encounter, such as the Atomizer or our beautiful motorcycle, the Nitro Bunny, to abilities so powerful they turn us into a weapon of mass destruction, making us a berserk android—the Void abilities.

Cookie Cutter

The combat system is intuitive and easy to learn, characterized by a mix of basic and empowered strikes. The latter consume the energy bar located beneath Cherry’s life barthe Void, the resource that allows us to unleash our most powerful attacks, utilize our secondary combat weapons, or access Void abilities.

The indicator is straightforward to replenish and can be done in two ways: by executing normal attacks, though this method takes time to recharge the bar, or by executing enemies with acrobatic finishers that showcase Cherry’s full brutal power. Additionally, the Void enables Cherry to replenish her own health by remaining stationary and activating the corresponding ability, recovering health points at an extremely slow rate—ensure you are sufficiently distant from enemies before healing.

Two other abilities, this time primarily defensive, that will allow you to survive more easily are the dodge, which grants you a few seconds of invincibility upon use, and the parry, a mechanic that enables you to break enemies’ guards, stun them, or alternatively temporarily render them vulnerable to your attacks. It’s a seemingly simple mechanic that can truly enhance the combat system, but it requires studying enemy patterns and is subject to some minor imperfections that make the timing of action and window too punitive.

Finish him

Another aspect we particularly appreciated, in addition to the exceptional attention to detail evident in the animations and art design—which, as we’ve emphasized repeatedly, is the true standout feature of Cookie Cutter— is the extensive customization options provided by Subcult Joint to tailor players’ combat experiences. And we’re not just talking about the variety of weapons and abilities available throughout the adventure; we’re also referring to the incorporation of actual components powered by Energy Cells, which players can discover while exploring the Megastructure.

These are truly additional abilities that enable us to significantly alter and broaden our offensive, defensive, and exploratory options throughout the game. However, there’s a caveat. The cells, particularly in the early stages of the game, are extremely limited, and you’ll only be able to equip a small fraction of them. Therefore, we advise carefully selecting those most beneficial to your playstyle and concentrating on a specific approach rather than haphazardly equipping them solely to maximize abilities and fill the space allotted by the cells.

Particular praise goes to the soundtrack selection, which cleverly oscillates between ambient tunes and powerful metal tracks, adding a touch of humor to the experience. This dynamic blend of music enhances the boss fights—another standout feature of Cookie Cutter—making them truly memorable. While not groundbreaking, it serves as the perfect accompaniment to the symphony of death that accompanies us throughout the adventure.

Yes, if that’s what you’ve been waiting to hear since the beginning of this review, then our answer is a resounding yes. Cookie Cutter is a good Metroidvania, in fact, an excellent one, outstanding in certain aspects.

A product that, despite some minor technical flaws—such as voice acting that, unfortunately, only covers the prologue—is an extremely fun, enjoyable, and, in some ways, innovative video game. Let’s be clear, Cookie Cutter doesn’t reinvent the genre or the gameplay formula we’ve become accustomed to with Metroidvanias, and probably, indeed certainly, doesn’t even want to try.

It’s “simply” a video game, crafted with boundless passion by a development team—let’s remember—on their debut project. It provides hours of pure enjoyment, excitement, and delight, along with deeply touching moments that resonate with your soul—occasionally punctuated by a cheeky remark from Cherry. Yet, once you get to know her, you’ll understand that’s just how she is: a bit brash, a tad annoying, but ultimately, a hopeless romantic.

And it’s a video game that represents the quintessence of Subcult Joint and its Director Stefano Guglielmana—fun, charming, humorous, resilient, determined, and tough as nails. We wholeheartedly recommend everyone to play it at least once to truly grasp the vision behind the project and to experience what is undeniably a beautiful story.

The team is currently working on refining and perfecting the gameplay formula, addressing some of the main issues reported by players, such as simple bugs and sudden crashes, as well as introducing more substantial additions that will enrich the gaming experience. Who knows, we might hear about it again soon, perhaps with a DLC.

Cookie Cutter is now available on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. The team has also confirmed that they are working on versions for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, which, barring any setbacks, should be released in 2024.

For further information, visit the Cookie Cutter X page and continue to follow us for the latest updates and insights in the gaming world.

That’s all for today. Until the next review!

Cookie Cutter

“Setting aside some naivety and technical aspects that require immediate attention, Cookie Cutter is a Metroidvania that will provide you with hours of wholesome fun, intense and blood-pumping battles, and a story that, despite its apparent simplicity, hides beneath its seemingly bare shell a soul waiting to be discovered. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking an unconventional Metroidvania in terms of themes and expressive language, yet equally enjoyable and familiar in gameplay mechanics.”


  • A bold, angry, and furious Metroidvania like few others out there
  • Animations and art design are nothing short of stunning
  • Intuitive combat, enjoyable and easy to master…
  • Excellent and varied solutions in exploration and platforming
  • Numerous ways to diversify and make the combat system experience unique
  • A cast of wacky and memorable characters
  • The Megastructure is immense and full of points of interest


  • …the timing of the parry isn’t as easy to learn and isn’t always precise, partly due to a overly punitive window
  • Parrying has no utility against ranged attacks
  • We would have appreciated a bit more inventiveness in the design of individual environments, which indeed feel somewhat empty and sparse
  • Some technical shortcomings that cannot go unnoticed, including the almost complete absence of voice acting, except for the prologue
SCORE: 8.7


Grown up with MediEvil and DOOM and fascinated by the video game world since 1998. This passion stems from a desire to discover and research the videogame at 360 degrees, with particular attention to the Indie scene.