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Gori: Cuddly Carnage is a cute and chaotic Lovecraftian love letter

An interview with John Kalderon, CEO of developer Angry Demon, discussing the futuristic and undeniably fun hack-and-slash hellscape of Gori: Cuddly Carnage.

Gori on his hoverboard preparing to take down a horde of sentient mutated unicorn toys

Gori: Cuddly Carnage is an upcoming cyberpunk hack-and-slash game from developer Angry Demon, with main protagonist Gori, a skateboarding, potty-mouthed, devil may care kitty cat, slicing and dicing his way through various eldritch mutations of sentient and bloodthirsty children’s toys.

It sounds like a lot, and it is, in the absolute best way. We sat down with Angry Demon CEO, John Kalderon, to have an exclusive chat about the chaos that Gori continuously finds himself in, the developer’s decision to port the game on all platforms upon release (yes, that means Gori is coming to the Switch from day one!), as well as the joy of having no creative restrictions as an indie developer.

Gori: Cuddly Carnage is full of Devil May Cry-style blood-spattering combat, super fun skate elements reminiscent of old school Tony Hawk’s games on the PS2, and a visual world that borrows from the likes of Cyberpunk: 2077 and Stray. When I asked John about the main points of inspiration for Gori’s world, we had to break it down, because the game is a love letter to everything the developers at Angry Demon adore about gaming.

John explains “I think usually it might not be a very big question, but I think the overall inspiration book is like, 50 games. So the main sources of inspiration are when we started on the game back in 2019, and it was three games, because of three very distinct features to those games.” One of John’s biggest inspirations for Gori: Cuddly Carnage was Alice: Madness Returns. He says that the game just had “really memorable environments and really memorable enemies [. . .] and it wasn’t just Ogre 52, or Soldier number five. I really wanted to make something that when people talk about it, it’s not just ‘level 3’, it’s ‘that’ level.”

Another major inspiration was Sunset Overdrive, simply because, as John quite rightly puts it, “that game just feels really good to just play. So we really wanted to take that open-world thing and put it into more of a linear environment that we had”. And, of course, the Devil May Cry games played heavily into the development of Gori: Cuddly Carnage. “The beefy combat in that game just felt so good, just smashing the sh*t out of everything,” John explains with an understandable reverence. “We really wanted that, we really wanted the player to feel like every single strike you make is just beefy, like, die die die!”.

Gori uses his hoverboard to battle a neon snake enemy

In Angry Demon’s previous title, Apsulov: End of Gods, the development team stuck incredibly close to the Norse mythology that the game was set within, and so with Gori: Cuddly Carnage, they were keen to expand at will, without worrying about immersion breaking mechanics or themes. “We had a bunch of creative energy built up [after making Apsulov: End of Gods],” John tells me. “So, cyberpunk was one of the things we wanted to do, and then it kind of developed from there, and now cyberpunk is basically, like, the canvas on which we paint the world of Gori: Cuddly Carnage.”

The futuristic environment was a conscious decision by Angry Demon, in order to avoid technical limitations that could hinder the fluidity of the game, and John says that one of his biggest annoyances with older games was another reason they dove headfirst into a cyberpunk world. “That’s, like, a classic early 2000s thing, where you have a shotgun and then there’s this wooden door that blocks you. I just want to turn this door into f**king firewood, why can’t I? Or it’s a classic in horror games, this is my house, and this is a locked door. Why do I have locked doors in my own house that I can’t open? It’s my house!”.

This level of immersion and fleshed-out narrative is really important to the devs, and John mentions that Apsulov: End of Gods, Angry Demon’s previous game, is “basically a story-driven horror game, it’s not heavy on the mechanics, it’s just the experience. Gori: Cuddly Carnage has three times the amount of script and where [. . .] most hack-and-slash games have this really edgy story, where it’s very much ‘you killed my father, prepare to die’, Gori was just really likeable and then all of the characters suddenly had their own intentions, and will, and backstories.”

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The contrast between this adorable little ginger cat and the way he slices and dices his way through eldritch horrors piqued my interest the moment I heard about it, and so I asked John what made them choose these really contrasting elements and how it sets the game apart from others on the market. “When we started our creative meetings, we just didn’t cap them. One of my most vivid memories is when we talked about [. . .] what do we do for enemies? Caroline, our concept artist, made a unicorn sketch and it was just, yeah, that, let’s kill that. But when we had all the things we liked, we had to rework it to make them work together.”

The creative process sounded as chaotic as the game itself, but in an extremely charming way, much like the game’s not-so-cuddly protagonist, and John used an old Swedish saying to explain it best. “I made a sausage cake. It’s an old children’s thing in Sweden, I like sausage, and I like cake. So, everybody knows that’s probably not going to work, so we made a lot of sausage cake in the beginning, and then we reworked it, cut out a bunch of cake, added sausage, whatever it needed to make it work.” Thanks to Angry Demon securing the Epic Mega Grant during development, it allowed the amazingly small team of five to make as much sausage cake as they wanted. John says that the “Epic Mega Grant was a really nice boost to the production, and it allowed us to stay the course, and [. . .] as long as it’s fun, that’s the main goal.”

With that kind of support, it’s also allowed Angry Demon to plan the release of Gori: Cuddly Carnage on every single platform possible. “We wanted the game on all of the consoles from the bat,” John states. “When we pitched the game to Wired Productions, we wanted to do the porting and we want simultaneous shipping on all platforms, because that’s just a dream come true.” Although this does pose some serious logistics, it’s something John and Angry Demon have absolutely lobbied for. “Yes, we are 100% sure we want it ported, and then I go back into my corner and cry because there’s so much to do.” John explains, only half-jokingly. “But it was just one of those things that we really wanted [. . .] instead of making a game and porting it later, and then having to change certain things to make it fit, we wanted to make the game with all platforms in mind.”

The Angry Demon team have prioritised this player experience, whether you’re going to be playing on PC or consoles like the Nintendo Switch, and the level of community that five years of development has created is something that John is extremely grateful and passionate about. “Community is always a big thing for us,” he explains. “There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Gori: Cuddly Carnage could have been what it is today without its community. We have a fantastic Discord (and big shout out to the Angry Demon Discord mods, because they’re fantastic), and that’s how we want to keep it. Shout out also to everyone who played it on YouTube and Twitch, because we’ve been lurking hard.”

Gori the cat with his hoverboard

Through watching their fans play the game, Angry Demon has taken into account as many ‘wishes’ as it possibly can, and John actually shared with me a fan-requested feature for Pocket Tactics to exclusively reveal: you can pet Gori! “We were watching a fan play on YouTube, and they would move the cursor over Gori’s face like, ‘aww, he’s so cute!’, and so we added a little stroking feature where you can pet Gori in the main menu.” With the Switch touch screen, it’ll be an hour before I even boot up the game, because as bloodthirsty as he is, Gori deserves all the pets.

With this community focus in mind, I had to ask if there are any fun things in store for Gori and the fans post-release, and, although John revealed that yes, there will be, we’ll have to wait and see. He did advise us to join the Angry Demon Discord server and keep a weather eye on the announcement channel, which we advise everyone else to do, too! “We do have plans for DLC and extra content, too,” John tells me. “I would love to branch Gori out, I would love an animated series, and the universe of Gori is very expandable. It has endless potential, it has the potential to span the entire universe… In space… but I won’t spoil too much.”

“Evil toys also just hold so much potential,” John muses. “Anything that was a toy, can be turned into anything. Anything monstrous, in the whole universe, that’s pretty Cthulhu-esque. Anything that was restricting Lovecraft would restrict Gori, so basically… Nothing. We can do whatever we want.”

Just from my conversation with John it’s obvious that both he and the Angry Demon team behind him have a lot of genuine love and excitement for Gori: Cuddly Carnage, which is absolutely infectious the more we talk about the game. The Pocket Tactics team are super excited to get their hands on this cutie patootie, murderous, foul-mouthed, skateboarding, orange kitty, especially if it means giving him pets in the main menu. Gori: Cuddly Carnage is due to release on all platforms on August 29, 2024, so get it in your calendars, because there are eldritch horrors to slay and a cat to be pet!

If you just can’t wait for Gori: Cuddly Carnage, there are plenty of other murderous toys for you to take on in the meantime. Be sure to check out our Poppy Playtime characters and FNAF characters guides, as well as a full list of the FNAF games.