While many games allow you to play as morally grey or even downright villainous characters, very few allow you to step into the role of a literal man eating monster. Carrion is one such game, and it allows you to live out your most twisted monster fantasy.
The premise of the game is very simple: you play as a monstrous mass of flesh that escapes from it’s containment unit deep within an unknown research facility and you have to fight your way out, consuming every living thing in your path.
Gameplay revolves around you consuming humans found within the facility and gaining mass, which not only determines your size, but also your health. Your fleshy tendrils allow you to stick to all manner of surfaces, and move through locations with a very satisfying speed and fluidity.
You start off very small with access to only two different powers, a Roar ability that can help you locate save points and provoke enemies, and a simple grab that can pull your victims towards you or help you open doors.
But as you play through the game you’ll come across containment units very similar to the one you escape out of at the beginning of the game, and you can find different DNA in them. You absorb this DNA to both gain new powers, as well as increase your maximum mass.
There are three different levels of mass you can attain, and the game makes use of each different level to full effect by restricting what abilities you can use at each level. So for example, the creature at level 1 mass can make use of a long-reaching webbed attack to stun enemies and activate switches from afar, but at level 2 you lose access to this ability. In exchange, at level 2 mass you can then make use of a powerful ramming ability that can break barriers and damage enemies instead.
Puzzles in the world often require the use of a bunch of these abilities all together, and most locations have conveniently placed pools of water in which you can deposit your excess mass. This allows you to switch between different levels of mass in order to access different abilities.
There’s a few different types of enemies in the game that you’ll encounter on your killing spree, and the first of these are the human scientists that run and cover from you on sight. These are just free meals that you can grab to increase your mass and recover health and they pose no risk to you at all.
Then there are armed humans that will shoot you on sight, enemies with electrical shields that can repel and damage you, flamethrower equipped units that can set you ablaze, security drones and even Mechs equipped with chainguns.
Attacking them head on, especially during the latter half of the game, is risky business, and so dealing with each of these requires creative use of surprise attacks, flanking maneuvers via hidden pathways and your different abilities.
Save points are scattered around the map in the form of cracks in walls, and players can deposit themselves into them to create a restore point where they can save their progress and even regain lost mass. You’re never too far away from one at any point in time, so you always have a safe haven to return to when things get a little too rough.
Visually, the game’s pixelated art style is great and it immensely helps to create a dank dark atmosphere that usually goes so well with monster scenarios. The creature itself not only looks fantastic, but the way it’s tendrils stick to walls and leave blood splatters is really cool.
The locations themselves are kind of a miss though. They look adequately gritty and hostile, but there’s a sameness to them that gets very old very fast. Yes, you are supposed to be trapped in an underground research facility, but I would have liked to see a bit more variety in the environments.
You’re also not going to find much here in terms of the story, which is an absolute shame because this game is just begging for a codex feature. I wanted to learn more about the creature, the scientists and the world, but the game isn’t really interested in telling you about them.
There’s no voice acting in the game at all, and the only direct storytelling we come across is through repetitive memory sequences that are as bland as they are slow.
It should also be noted that this is not a long game. It took me a little under 4 hours to beat the campaign, and after that there wasn’t much else to do. The game is very reasonably priced at around $8 on PC, but the $20 price tag on consoles might be a bit too steep for some for a game this short.
I will tell you though that Carrion is absolutely worth it. I adored my time with the game, and it didn’t outstay it’s welcome at all. It was really well paced and extremely entertaining.
I have my issues with the lack of a proper story and the same looking locations, but this was nonetheless an extremely memorable experience that I’m not likely to forget soon.
Carrion is out now on the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and the PC. It was developed by Phobia Game Studio and published by Devolver Digital. This review covers the PC version of the game.
The review code was provided by the publisher.
Carrion is a short but entertaining experience that allows you to live out your most grotesque monster fantasy, with all the stalking and killing that comes with the package.