I cannot deny it I have a soft spot for Indie games. My personal opinion of late is that the AAA titles are all a carbon copy of one another. Yet in an indie game you can find a diamond in the rough. I am however picky with the games that I play. I do not like zombies and I avoid horror games. So why did I decide to play Carrion? Well, to be honest I have no clue. Perhaps it was because it has been marketed as a “reverse horror experience” was enough to tickle my curiosity and the fact that it was free on Xbox Game Pass made it easily accessible. But play it I did and my thoughts about it I am going to share with you now.
This is an indie platformer, developed by Phobia Games and published by Devolver Games. You are in control of an amorphous tentacle creature whose origins are unknown. It is set inside a laboratory facility where you must slither your way to freedom, snacking on humans and growing larger, more powerful, and more ferocious!
When you consume humans, you gain life and grow, while the reverse happens when you take damage. As you progress through each level, you unlock new abilities which are relevant to your current size. When you’re at your largest, you can cause a huge amount of damage by sending a lot of tentacles forward and pulling anything in their way towards you. At your smallest size stealth is your new friend together with a helpful stun attack.
You will need to grow and shrink depending on what threat you face. I liked this style of fighting as you had to consider which approach worked best in which situation.
It took me a while to become comfortable with the sudden ability shifts in the middle of battle. I would start off huge, take unexpected large amounts of damage and end up small and have to flee. The monster that fights and runs away lives to fight another day!
These skills aren’t just integral to combat, but also to Carrion‘s puzzle-filled stages. They make full use of your abilities in varied ways: to flip out of reach door switches or find and control the mind of a nearby enemy. These puzzles require specific abilities to solve rather than quick reflexes or timely movements. This meant that at times I found myself back tracking through a level to find a spot where I could deposit some of my biomass and shrink accordingly to access the abilities that were required. (If only I could deposit some of my “biomass” so easily in real life)!
I learnt the hard way not to devour everything in my sight. As there were occasions that I had to go back on myself to try and find humans to consume as I needed to grow in size again. I do not deny it that at times I made use of the handy checkpoint system to do just this.
The entrance to each level is contained within a hub world, which has its own puzzles to solve. Navigating the hub world I found annoying. There is no map to guide you, and there are many routes that involve one-way paths, so backtracking to a previous stage is a frustrating endeavour. And if you happen to forget where a previously locked route was after obtaining the right skill to bypass it, you can find yourself doing circles around this area just looking for a way to continue. Which happened more than once to me. Anyone who has ever played any game with me will tell you that my sense of direction is shocking. So you can imagine how frustrating I found this. Round and round in circles I found myself going at times.
There are a few infrequent flashback sequences where you play as a human scientist instead of the monster. This took me a short while to work out what was going on. I think the developers may have been trying to add some depth to a vary empty story line. These sections don’t feature puzzles instead I found myself platforming and climbing ladders. I found this far less satisfying than being a human eating, flesh tearing monster.
However, these moments eventually tie into the surprising ending that comes full circle with the game’s opening almost making them worth it, but it’s only once the credits are rolling that you may accept their inclusion at all.
Controls, Graphics and Sound
The game controls are simple to use and there is nothing taxing or note worthy to say on this really.
The in game music and sound effects are well thought through. It is eerie and full of suspense. The sound effects of bones being crushed, humans screaming in terror are sublime.
Graphics I loved. It has a real retro, indie feel to it and worked really well with the game aesthetics.
I was able to complete this game in approximately 6 hours but I do feel that I could have completed it much sooner had I not found myself lost so often!
Did this wimpy mamma find this a horror game? No, not at all.
I did enjoy playing the game and I surprised myself at how much I loved grabbing humans by their legs, bashing them against the walls and ripping them limb from limb. Maybe therein lies the horror to this game; turning a homely girl into a mass murdering monster!
Carrion was released on July 23, 2020 for PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
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- How carried away was I was Carrion? - 7/107/10
A fun game to play, I found it very therapeutic at times. It is the sort of game that you can dip in and out of.
Overall game time approximately 6 hours.
Controls are easy to master
Graphics – retro styled and just gorgeous
Sound – disturbingly excellent
Lack of any depth to the story but somehow this did not bother me or detract from the fun to be had