There are quite a few games out there where you are tasked to be the villain, but not many like Carrion—the reverse-horror game in which you assume the role of an amorphous creature made of flesh, blood, sharp teeth, and countless whipping tendrils with two goals: to go on a murderous rampage and kill/eat everything in sight, and to spread your biomass throughout the facility where you were held hostage in order to escape. What’s different about Carrion is presented throughout its variety of puzzles, interesting game mechanics, and the psychopathic feeling of killing without empathy or remorse.
The atmosphere and feel of the game all starts with the monster; you are the monster. Your growls echo through the hallways, sending shivers down your meals’ spines as they run or prepare for you arrival. Your tendrils pitter-patter against any surface they can, flinging you across rooms at lightning speeds. You rip doors off their hinges, lunging yourself at helpless humans with the urge to kill and feast like the ravenous beast you are. The horrified screams of victims sound as they are torn limb from limb—until thrown into your gnashing teeth.
But that feeling of ultimate power doesn’t last long. As you tear your way through the facility, the humans get better prepared and the free feast becomes more challenging and tactical; they gain machine guns, flamethrowers, Gatling mechs and drones—which can take you down pretty swiftly if you’re too aggressive. You soon find you’re not invincible and need to find better tactics: like lurking in the shadowed vents, grabbing each unaware human one by one.
When you are not looking to feast on humans, you are navigating through a multitude of facility sections and caves, breaking through security doors to enter more areas, and finding and absorbing monster DNA (from capsules similar to the one you broke out of) to gain different abilities and growths that help you progress.
Progressing focuses around finding special cracks to spread your biomass into, breaking open key doors and also acting as save points. The game is very puzzle focused, having you use your tendrils, flesh net, ramming, and other capabilities to access locked off areas. As you absorb DNA, you’ll eventually have to ability to switch between three different sizes—with their own skill sets varying in tactics and aggression. Some puzzles and locations require you to switch between each mode, keeping the puzzles varied and fresh. The puzzle sets never overstay their welcome and you always gain a new ability to navigate through puzzles before too long.
Despite being a Metroidvania, Carrion doesn’t have a map to help you navigate. You’re a monster; monsters don’t look at maps. Instead you have an echolocation growl that can sense the location of biomass—which is helpful to some extent, but occasionally left me roaming around a map looking for the next point of progression.
As for story, there is very little; the game is very “show, don’t tell”. The story is told through occasional moments where you control a human in what may be the past, present, or future—I couldn’t actually tell. Also strewn throughout the game are LED signs very akin to Abe’s Odyssey, which mostly provide warnings to humans and small subtle hints on where to go next.
Overall, I really enjoyed the game. It was a decent 4–5 hours which didn’t feel too long or too short. I felt like a monster, creeping and crawling and hunting. Being aggressively overpowered at some times, while picking my tactical battles in others—proving that a monster can be a smart puzzle solver. I just wish there was a clearer story behind it with a more satisfying ending.