gori riding on an ad board in gori cuddly carnage
Image via Wired Productions

Gori Cuddly Carnage is a blood-drenched, fast-paced action game with incredible style

The blood runs deep, and so do the game mechanics.

The trailers for Gori Cuddly Carnage showcase the game’s brutality and the sheer amount of blood it’s capable of rendering on-screen. But when I went to play it during a preview event at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, I had no idea that the gameplay has a level of depth that will see you trying to master every mission and encounter as if it’s a Devil May Cry title.

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A strange post-apocalypse

city gori cuddly carnage
Image via Wired Productions

On its surface, Gori Cuddly Carnage looks and sounds like a title that tries to stretch a gimmick out longer than it has any right to. But that’s simply not the case. Protagonist Gori is an anthropomorphic cat with a tragic backstory who is just trying to do the one thing his owner wanted: Survive.

When you meet him, Gori is hanging out on a ship in space above an Earth that’s been ravaged by a toy apocalypse. Something went horrifically wrong with the largest producer of toys on the planet, causing them to mutate into monsters that murdered most people and created a few towering monstrosities that now rule over most major locations.

Gori’s friends are his ship AI, a melancholy character named CHI-P who just wants to remain in orbit, never see anyone again, and is a little sensitive when it comes to comments about his size, and a hoverboard called F.R.A.N.K. with a dirty mouth and child-friendly censorship software so it sounds like an angry content creator screaming about a game. Don’t worry: every other word from F.R.A.N.K. might be a curse, but they’re bleeped out. The best part is F.R.A.N.K. is all too aware of the bleeping, and is infuriated by it.

Both of these characters are rich and make the world feel fully realized instantly. It was comforting having them already established in this world so that when they’re re-introduced later, it doesn’t feel ham-fisted or forced. It’s completely natural.

gori cuddly carnage blood and unicorns
Image via Angry Demon Studio

You’re quickly thrown into action on Earth and can see firsthand the devastation of the toy apocalypse. This is where you meet the game’s unicorns, which are basic toys that developer Angry Demon Studio has managed to mutate in more ways than you can fathom. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, the unicorn designs kept getting stranger and more deadly, keeping me thoroughly engaged in this world.

That’s the main point I took away from the preview about Gori Cuddly Carnage‘s setting. I can remember many games set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, but none stand out to me as much as this one. I was always excited to see what was just around the corner and what was in store for me next.

My favorite location was an entire city built out of arcade machines, which you had to complete arcade-inspired minigames. Each sandbox was full of life and death, the perfect backdrop to the intense action at the forefront.

Adding to all of this is the pretty decent soundtrack that’s constantly filling the gaps between combat and traversal. The boss fight music is sensational, but you can tell the development team had a lot of fun picking the right tracks to make every moment feel action-packed when necessary. Even if you’re only fighting a small group of enemies, you feel like a badass doing it.

Method in the madness

arcade boss in gori cuddly carnage
Image via Wired Productions

The moment-to-moment gameplay in Gori Cuddly Carnage is much more thrilling and nail-biting than you might think from the trailers. Gori’s hoverboard can slice and dice unicorns, but they grow increasingly harder to kill as you progress. Over time, you’ll unlock new weapons, like a huge ball to slam onto shields so you can kill the unicorns within.

New weapons are fun and give the game a sense of momentum it definitely needs, but the real heart of combat and traversal is managing your energy and health levels. As these plummet through the use of powerful hoverboard moves and getting hit, you’ll need to perform stylish kills on enemies and increase your style grade for the current encounter.

It’s a lot like the Devil May Cry series, where dodging and pulling off showy attacks and finishers is much more important than finishing the encounter as quickly as possible. More points mean you gain health in the middle of battle, earn energy so you can hit a boss with a massive hoverboard spin attack, and gain currency you need to unlock upgrades like additional health, damage, and removing that curse filter on your hoverboard.

If you’re like me, you’ll take a while to warm up to combat because Gori can feel quite floaty. In a way, the game is easier to traverse because of this, but in combat, that float level doesn’t seem to help you at all. It’s pretty well-balanced in a way that’s best for players, not just for visuals.

The best encounters are definitely the boss fights, of which I managed to get through two. The first was a battle with a big bear-in-a-box toy with spider legs who kept saying it wanted to eat my face off. My favorite was the Space Invaders-inspired casino robot, though, which has multiple stages to it and ends with you attacking a massive spinning eye of death.

A quiet space

bear box boss gori cuddly carnage
Screenshot by Destructoid

This game isn’t all action, blood, and swearing, though. There are moments of calm on Gori’s ship between missions. Here, you can tackle additional challenge levels, unlock gear using the keys you gather pieces of in levels, and get to know your ship and hoverboard better.

The quiet between missions isn’t enough to slow down the pace and hem you into a small space to stretch things out. Instead, it’s an optional area you can spend as much or a little time in as you want. There are loads of collectibles to be found, and they add plenty of reasons to return to previous missions to locate even more items or see if you can beat your previous high scores.

Gori Cuddly Carnage takes everything you might expect in a toy apocalypse and twists it in unexpected ways. The game constantly surprised me, and it never stopped feeling good to fight, float, and fly through. I can’t wait to play the final release and see exactly how far the developer took this universe, and also finish off that big bear once and for all.

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Image of Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie is a Staff Writer on Destructoid who has been playing video games for the better part of the last three decades. He adores indie titles with unique and interesting mechanics and stories, but is also a sucker for big name franchises, especially if they happen to lean into the horror genre.