CARRION
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 9

CARRION is a great, although brief game that gives players the chance to go wild in a research facility as a flesh-eating tentacle monster. The game is extremely bloody, but between all the mayhem there are also plenty of puzzles to solve. Your creature can unlock a ton of new abilities, which opens up new areas to explore, but the lack of a map could frustrate some players. Despite some repetition and a few small niggles we thoroughly enjoyed our time with CARRION and the game comes highly recommended.

Gameplay: Plays like a very violent Metroidvania, except without the platforming elements.

Graphics: The pixel art looks great and the animations are smooth, but more unique locations would have been a big plus.

Sound: Atmospheric music and great sound effects

Summary 8.7 Outstanding
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CARRION

Developer: Phobia Game Studio | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Wherever there is a secret, shady research facility in games or movies you can be sure that there will also be some sort of monstrosity in a glass tank. The odds are also very good that this monstrosity, which usually has way more teeth and tentacles than strictly necessary, will escape at some point and wreak havoc. This havoc will continue until some sort of hero shows up and takes it out after an epic showdown. The bad news is that in CARRION there is no hero in sight anywhere. The good news is that you get to be the amorphous creature of unknown origin wreaking the havoc.

There are plenty of games that allow you to play as the bad guys, but CARRION allows you to play as a character unlike any other. The sheer number of teeth and tentacles it has is certainly monstrous, but no explanation is ever given about its origins or what exactly its captors were doing to it. This is mostly due to the fact that none of the humans you encounter in the game are very talkative. Sure, they scream their heads off as you burst out of a vent and snack on their co-workers, but anyone expecting a poignant narrative and deep backstory will be very disappointed. However, those in search of blood, gore, action, and puzzles are in luck as CARRION features plenty of these.

After escaping from its containment tank your Cronenbergian creature has to make its escape from the facility where it is being confined. This is easier said than done as the sprawling structure incorporates everything from uranium mines and botanical gardens to a military junkyard, research ward, nuclear power plant, and even an underwater reef base. These areas are connected via a central hub, but in the best Metroidvania traditions, you won’t be able to access all the areas right off the bat. Instead, your creature has to find special containment units that will allow it to gain new abilities. These new abilities will in turn open up new areas of the facility. It’s certainly not a new mechanic for the genre, but it is slightly more tricky since CARRION lacks a map.

Not having access to a map does result in some confusion at times as a certain amount of backtracking is involved to get to new areas. It’s also easy to miss an important switch or overlook a door in a dark corner, but overall CARRION is a rather short experience, so stumbling around for a bit will usually get you back on track. Enemies do not respawn either, so you know you are heading in the right direction if you begin seeing humans you haven’t munched on yet.

Speaking of humans, initially, you’ll be feasting on easy prey, such as researchers and other workers, but it’s not long before armed resistance begin appearing. It’s not too hard to overwhelm guards with guns, but when they begin wielding flamethrowers and electric shields you might want to exercise more caution. New enemies require new tactics and thankfully there are plenty of ways to dispose of foes in CARRION. The 2D, pixel art visuals ensure that you always have a clear view of your surroundings, which makes the classic horror tactic of lurking in air vents very effective. Nothing beats the thrill of bursting out of a vent, eating someone’s face, and scuttling back to safety before the other enemies even have time to scream.

Eating people, in addition to being very gory and satisfying, also increases the biomass of your creature. This in turn opens up new abilities, depending on the containment units that you have found. Your smallest form is useful for sneaking about and pulling levers with a well-aimed tentacle shot while your larger form can barge through obstacles. Finally, your largest form not only looks terrifying but can rip heavy obstacles out of the way like they weigh nothing. You’ll have to use the abilities of all three forms to progress through the game, which means being as large as possible is not always the best course of action. This is because your abilities are tied to your size and sometimes you’ll face obstacles that can only be bypassed with a certain form. Gaining mass is as easy as munching humans or cozying up to one of the save spots that you’ve unlocked while losing mass requires you to get hurt or leave some biomass behind in special pools. It’s a bit odd not having access to all your unlocked abilities at all times, but usually, you don’t have to backtrack too far to find spots where you can gain or lose biomass.

CARRION is a good looking game with plenty of blood oozing everywhere, but we would have loved to see some more variety. There are plenty of different areas, but apart from a few distinct ones you’ll mostly be looking at dimly lit, featureless hallways. This can also make it difficult to find your way around, which isn’t helped by the lack of a map. The creature is the highlight of the game with brilliant animations for the way it moves around or eats enemies. Usually, every room you enter is covered in blood by the time you leave along with bits of humans that you leave for later. The animations for the humans are pretty decent and the fire effects for the flamethrowers are particularly impressive. Even the non-human enemies, such as drones and mechs look good.

The game also does well in the audio department with plenty of screams from the humans, which is usually followed by some disturbing crunching sounds as you eat them. Other small touches, such as the way chains rattle as you brush past them and the terrifying sounds of the Gatling guns wielded by the mechs also enhance the experience. Your creature is obviously not the talkative type apart from a growl that you can emit to locate the nearest save spot or the sound of your tentacles shooting out and latching on to scenery as you move. Speaking of movement, the way your creature maneuvers around feels very fluid, whether you use mouse controls or a gamepad. Instead of the usual WASD, you left click to move your creature while a right-click controls your tentacles, and keyboard hotkeys are assigned to abilities. We preferred making use of a controller, though, as moving around felt more intuitive, but both methods work fine. The only slight complaint is that in its largest form the creature can be a bit unwieldy and sometimes make unplanned turns if you are not careful.

Although CARRION is rather short and doesn’t have much of a story, it is a very enjoyable game with plenty of clever puzzles. It kept us hooked right to the end and even the lack of a map didn’t dampen our enthusiasm to explore. There is a little bit of padding in the form of flashbacks where players take control of a human exploring the facility, but these are brief and will make more sense later in the game. While it lacks the traditional platforming elements of the Metroidvania genre, the world of CARRION is still a lot of fun to explore and each new area opened up fresh opportunities for puzzles and mayhem. Some players may find it a bit repetitive or bemoan the lack of a real challenge, but even though it’s not perfect CARRION is an absolute blast to play.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1
  • Processor: 2 core processor
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: compatible with OpenGL 3.0
  • Storage: 500 MB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: OSX 10.12+
  • Processor: 2 core processor
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: compatible with OpenGL 3.0
  • Storage: 500 MB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Ubuntu 18.04+
  • Processor: 2 core processor
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: compatible with OpenGL 3.0
  • Storage: 500 MB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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