Videogames are often about defeating the big scary monster that’s tormenting the humans, but if you’ve ever wanted to flip the script and be that scary monster, Carrion is for you. The folks over at Phobia Game Studio have put together a metroidvania style game that makes you feel powerful, clever, and has some of the most fluid movement of any game this year.
Carrion puts you in the role of an unnamed monster that’s broken out of containment in an underground facility. The story is light on details, although a few flashbacks that put you in the shoes of a human fill in some sparse information. The story isn’t really necessary here because the gameplay is just so much fun. Clicking the left mouse button will move your monstrosity of a character, it’s tentacles reaching out to nearby walls to get you where you’re headed. The movement is incredibly fluid and the rapid pace at which you can move around your environment proves to be incredibly satisfying.
The basic idea is that you’ll find save points that you can essentially infect. Once you find all of these infection points in a given area, an exit will open up, bringing you to the next section of the facility. All of these areas are interlocking and can be revisited. Some, you’ll necessarily come back to, others may draw you back for an upgrade you missed. Backtracking to grab these upgrades isn’t really necessary though, as just progressing normally through the game will give you all the powers you need to complete it. The powers you unlock are the key to the different puzzles you’ll run into. For the most part, the puzzles are a simple affair of using whatever power you recently gained, but there are some clever twists, including inhabiting the bodies of scientists around you that end up quite fun.
Those scientists will be your main source of health, and later on in the game, can be responsible for hitting the evolutions that you go through when filling a health bar. At different levels of overall health, you’ll have access to different abilities, which means sometimes foregoing a chunk of health in order to be able to turn invisible, for example. All of the enemies you encounter won’t be useful for food though, as you’ll run into armored soldiers and drones that can’t be eaten and will make quick work of you if you’re not careful. The game makes you feel pretty invincible early on, so carelessness with some more powerful enemies cost me a life here and there. The horror movie score and tortured screams of your victims could be unsettling, but it probably has more of a camp feel.
Carrion isn’t terribly long, probably about six hours or so for most. While navigating the facility can take some getting used to, the game is usually pushing you in the right direction. You don’t have to remember spots from hours earlier in the game and how to get back to them to be able to beat this game. That being said, a cursory map would have been helpful, even if it didn’t show where the player appeared on it.
In the end though, Carrion is a blast to play and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The availability of the game on Game Pass makes it a real no-brainer for many, but even to buy, it’s a good time.