Carrion is a game unlike any other. A unique experience fueled by destruction and tentacles offers a fresh look into a point of view not often seen in gaming. Carrion places players as the monster in their very own creature feature. Battle your way out of the massive laboratory that has imprisoned you and take revenge on your captors—ragdolling scientists and soldiers down hallways as you escape. The game most fittingly falls into the Metroidvania genre but has unique mechanics that aim to be so much more. Carrion’s creative new take allows for experiences I haven’t felt in gaming before, and I think I loved it.
Graphics and Audio
Retro styled 2D graphics allow the game to be as gruesome as possible, and it’s awesome. Little red blood pixels follow the creature everywhere as it slithers through halls and pools beneath the beast if it is not moving. Small details like blood leaking through floors or tentacles snapping off in doorways bring a modern feel to the retro-style graphics. Immensely detailed audio and a powerful soundtrack add to the experience and give the game a movie-like atmosphere. Minor details like the sound of your monster moving change with the slightest variation and each size of the beast has its own unique slither. Players can hear weapons fire and ricochet, interacting with the environment and other game elements.
Just about everything about Carrion’s gameplay is unique. Rather than traditional movement keys, players control their monster by aiming crosshairs with their mouse (or joystick). The monster then moves towards those crosshairs, but can also use prehensile tentacles to grab objects and enemies while moving. This combination of movement and attacking creates a flow to the game that takes time to master. As the game progresses, new abilities are gained, such as invisibility, or growing deadly spikes from your body. These new abilities allow players to progress to new areas and grow in size as they try to escape. The monster’s size is core to Carrion’s gameplay and is where the game both shines and struggles.
Depending on the size of the monster, different abilities are made available. For example, the smallest form of the beast can turn invisible to sneak past turrets or guards but is quick to die in a fight. The largest form of the monster has a massive health bar and obliterates everyone in its way, but has trouble maneuvering around in certain areas. Growing in size typically requires solving a puzzle or winning a particularly difficult fight. Often players will find themselves trying to solve a puzzle, but not being the correct size to pass an obstacle. The need to switch between sizes frequently requires quite a bit of backtracking, which was the one problem I had with the game.
In the Metroidvania genre, a key element of gameplay is unlocking abilities and then using those abilities to backtrack to a previously unreachable area. Carrion does this excellently for the first 90% of the game. The level design elegantly guides players to each new ability and forces them to use that ability to progress further; that is until the player unlocks all of the monster’s skills.
MILD SPOILER WARNING.
Once I had obtained every skill in the game, I ran into what I would say is the game’s only flaw. There is no map or method to check progress at all. The lack of a map was no problem when new abilities could clearly show me where to go next. The problem began when I had no new abilities to guide me, and I went to sleep planning to finish the game the next day. Upon returning to the game, I had no idea where I was or where to go. What was once a meticulously designed gameworld of puzzles and obstacles turned into a prison. I got lost; like full-on J.J. Abrams dumped me on an island with a bunch of strangers lost. I backtracked all the way to the first level of the game and retraced my steps, and I just couldn’t figure out where to go. After a few hours of backtracking like this, I gave up and restarted the entire game. My goal was to play the whole thing in one sitting so I wouldn’t get lost again, and in doing so, I discovered the optimal way to experience this title.
Like a Movie
When I restarted the game, I was about seven hours into the story, and I could tell I was nearing the end. Disappointed in myself for getting so lost, I was determined to put in an epic gaming sesh of eight hours straight to plow through the story. Instead, what I experienced was a three and a half-hour horror story unlike any other. I usually take my time looking for every detail in an area and try to break game mechanics, but this time I hyper-focused on one thing, escaping that damn facility. I realized that I was put in the exact mindset of the monster. I began to greatly appreciate the developers and the experience they created. Playing Carrion, I felt everything I imagine a monstrous creature would feel. Immense power, confusion, and fear can be felt when playing the game and couldn’t be more different from what I expected. Yes, Carrion is a blast to play and smash things, but there is so much more to this uniquely beautiful game. I would recommend to anyone interested in the game to play it this way, set aside a block of time, and experience this unique work of art from start to finish.
- GAMEPLAY - 90%90%
- GRAPHICS - 100%100%
- AUDIO - 100%100%
Carrion is an oddly beautiful game. Playing as what I can best describe as murder spaghetti, I had a wonderful time destroying my laboratory prison. An experience like no other, Carrion has pushed into uncharted territory and allowed me to feel like the boss for a change. Games like this are what I hope for whenever I ask the question, “What’s next for video games?” Carrion is new, but not foreign, and supports its story with rewarding and flat out fun gameplay. Available now on PC, Xbox Game Pass, and Nintendo Switch, I would highly recommend Carrion for anyone looking for a totally new gaming experience.
For more on Carrion, check out our previous coverage.