Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, PC
Have you ever watched the science fiction horror movie The Thing and thought to yourself, “I’d like to see that story but from the monster’s perspective”? If so, Carrion might be the game for you.
From indie developer Phobia Game Studio (the four-person group that previously developed Butcher under Transhuman Design) comes the reverse horror game experience of Carrion. Putting players in the role of a fleshy, monstrous blob, you are tasked with escaping the facility you’ve been contained in while leaving a bloody trail in your wake. The game was previously released on most consoles in 2020, but it finally received a Playstation 4 port in October of this year.
The gameplay is simple, with the player being able to use the monster’s tentacles to rip apart obstacles and grab humans to devour them and gain biomass. The game plays out much like a Metroidvania, with your monster finding different power-ups throughout the laboratory that allows them to backtrack and overcome obstacles to traverse previously inaccessible areas of the world. Over the course of the game, you will go from a small red blob to a gigantic mass of tentacles and teeth, with a wide range of powers that let you dispatch enemies and solve puzzles in a number of ways. Still, while you have a bevy of abilities to use by the end of the game, at times the gameplay still feels monotonous which is a bit of a bummer. Scenarios are repeated often, and none of the puzzles presented to you require much thought or creativity; if you’re struggling with an area, the reason is usually because you don’t have the power-up you need yet.
There’s nothing particularly difficult about the game: by the end, you are able to easily run through several humans in one move, and even large mechs can be taken apart in seconds. What’s more, the length is about half that of a Metroid or Castlevania, so Metroidvania fans may be disappointed with the experience when compared to other games in the genre. Even so, the game has a unique charm to it that gives the gameplay enough of a novel feel to keep most players engaged throughout.
The most frustrating thing about the game is the lack of a map of any kind. There is an “echo-locate” function that is supposed to tell you the direction of other areas where you’ve placed your biomass or points of interest, but it does little to help with navigating to new targets. Because of this, and the fact that a lot of the areas look more or less the same, I found myself lost on more than one occasion, backtracking much further than necessary and retreading the same rooms over and over until I finally managed to find the right corridor to go down.
Despite my criticisms, I found Carrion to be a fun game overall that I would recommend to both fans of Metroidvanias as well as the horror genre in general. If you’ve ever wanted to be on the other side of an “escaped alien creature in the lab” scenario, this is definitely the game for you.
While not the most original experience mechanically, Carrion still offers an interesting twist on the Metroidvania genre.