I sometimes wonder how familiar today’s gamers are with the past. Gori: Cuddly Carnage reminded me of Trickstyle on Dreamcast and, consequently, its spiritual successor AirBlade on PS2. These games are now over two decades old, and neither is frequently mentioned nowadays. But when it came to thinking to think of a more modern counterpart, the best I could muster was the miserable Sonic Free Riders for Kinect – not exactly a favourable comparison. Or even relevant.
Turns out I needn’t have worried. Searching for ‘hoverboard games’ on Google brings up Trickstyle, AirBlade…and something called ‘Streak: Hoverboard Racing’ on PSone. A stone-cold classic, I’m sure.
Gori: Cuddly Carnage is definitely about to plug a gap in the market, then. It’s a hoverboard-based hack ‘n slash, with rail grinding, boss battles, and hordes of demonic unicorns to slaughter. You play as Gori, a cuddly ginger feline, who’s assisted by F.R.A.N.K. – a sentient hoverboard.
Gori and the assortment of enemies may look cute and cuddly, but this is just a façade; the carnage part of the game’s title rings true, with lashings of claret coating the environments via the hoverboard’s mounted blades. Gori is able to dash straight into a group of enemies and hack them to bits, sending unicorn heads and other body parts flying. This is accompanied by glitter(!) and particle effects, both of which meld into the neon-drenched city backdrops.
There’s a lot going on visually – glowing billboards, rainbow rails, sparking electrical boxes, glowing green pools of sludge, reflective surfaces, and motion blur effects. Motion blur can be turned off, and there is also a performance graphics setting. While I can’t vouch for the Switch and last-gen versions, on Xbox Series it’s pushing a lot of effects while running remarkably smoothly.
But while it’s pushing next-gen tech, there is a pleasingly old skool vibe to it. Enemy encounters can be overcome by holding the attack button down to unleash a spin attack, while shielded enemies require just a tap of the Y button to defeat. All the while, camera is zoomed in curiously closely.
The biggest challenge from combat, at least from the alpha demo, comes from being overwhelmed – meaning you may overlook incoming projectiles. The first boss didn’t exactly push the boundaries of innovation either, simply being a case of avoiding their searing laser until they become dizzy.
Traversal is slightly more demanding. To reach higher locations, Gori must grind rails and billboards and perform boost jumps. Falling into sludge or into a void decreases health, so if you fail to make several transfers in a row, you risk being sent back to a checkpoint.
With no solid release date, Gori: Cuddly Carnage is likely several months away. There’s no reason to doubt that it’s about to deliver gloriously over-the-top carnage with a side-line of silliness. Hopefully, the combat will be tightened up in a future build. While hacking up unicorns is fun, it needs a bit of tact too. In the current state, it’s cathartic but not quite as satisfying as it could be.
Angry Demon Studio’s Gori: Cuddly Carnage is set to be published by Wired Productions.