I think we’re all in agreement that the reason we play video games is for fun and a little bit of escapism, right? We all like to go ahead and live in the fantasy world, realistic and close to ours or not, to live out the lives that we could never do, fulfilling a developer and publishers created world and vision. Never would have thought I would be playing as an amorphous tentacle horror from the depths of a lab facility murdering everything in its path. That doesn’t exactly sum up what Carrion is, but it’s a start. Carrion has been named a ‘reverse horror’ in which you play as the monster trying to survive and escape instead of a human survivor or whatever we’ve been used to in previous horror games. I’m sure this isn’t the first time this has been done, but there are significant reasons why this one stands out amongst others.
It’s difficult to explain a story when you’re an incredibly intelligent biomass that’s willing to commit genocide and destruction through a laboratory you’ve suddenly become sentient in, although there has been something along the lines of a plot that’s been cobbled together. You start off exploding from a testing facility and it’s, for some reason, off your own free will to rampage through the facility in a hope of escape, or at least that’s what I hazard to guess at the start of the game.
As you progress through the levels, you enter into these machines which trigger an event, like possibly a memory or an ability to look into the past. From here you play as a scientist, walking around what looks like a derelict site, the same areas as you roam around but before it was all converted into a laboratory or research facility perhaps. As you progress more and more into these machines, (spoiler alert), you discover that this particular scientist makes a discovery, which I believe is the menace that you are now. The scientist tried to escape, but was gunned down by the enemies you fight throughout the levels. A privatised form perhaps? So… There is a story, one in which you have to sort of make your own mind up and raise a lot of questions, but there is one.
Features and Gameplay
You’re probably wondering what does a killer amorphous tentacle horror have in its arsenal to deal with its enemies? Well… you probably aren’t wondering that, but i’ll tell you anyways because it’s part of the gig to do so. It has teeth. Lots of teeth. It’s mouth is essentially anywhere you point it towards, thrashing enemies until they split in half and consuming them to increase your health. If you thought that was impressive I can’t begin to explain how this thing navigate around the areas. It’s like art. Gruesome, bloody, tentacle art. It latches itself onto walls, floors, ceilings, anywhere it can to get to where it needs to go. But it shoots these tentacles out at such speed and moves with fluidity, it makes for really smooth engaging gameplay. It means you can be sneaky, tactical, or barrage through areas like a force of nature, although that’s not a 100% viable strategy due to the enemies you’ll be facing. Otherwise, the movement itself has already impressed me.
To start with, you’re pretty small and weak, in comparison to what you become. That does not mean you’re not a beast however. You go throw civilians and scientists like a heated knife through butter, piercing them instantly with your tentacles whilst moving with rapid succession. The normal scientists are pretty easy to kill, some arm themselves with pistols which can be a pain if not dealt with quickly.
As you progress you do gain some interesting abilities to help you navigate the levels and eliminate your oppressors. This is crucial to the gameplay, the reason being is that some places can only be accessed by using certain abilities. As an example one of the first abilities you get, which is like a Cobweb Shot, allows you to not only web people and kill them dead to rights like some sort of murderous spider man, but also allows you to shoot it at levers on the other side of blocks you can’t pass through. These skills that allow you to bypass specific areas using an array of abilities are key.
Throughout your progression you get stronger, able to morph yourself into larger more powerful versions of yourself, up to 3 times as big as you first started, making you more resistant to attacks, survive for longer, and giving you different abilities depending on what level you are at. That point is also crucial. There will be times you need to use the cobweb ability, however you are too big and you’re the incorrect type or size to use it. Therefore there are places where you can deposit your own biomass to deliberately downgrade yourself as it were, to be able to use the correct abilities which enable you to access necessary areas. This then adds to another interesting element of navigating the areas you come across. There’s a lot of them, and you won’t be able to access them all to start with, so you find yourself coming back to areas you first encountered with your new found abilities to discover what lies behind. It’s very clever, if not a little overwhelming if you can’t remember all the areas to begin with, like I said there are a lot of them.
Not all your abilities are just for getting through to new areas of course. Some are used to find anomalies that allow you to open the door though each zone as well as act as a save point and a regeneration station. Some allow you to camouflage, harden your skin, charge or fire multiple spikes at your foes, even possessing the roaming soldiers and scientists to do you bidding and kill off the competition incognito is also an option. With such an array of abilities to choose from you wonder if you are somewhat overpowered, to then suddenly find out you’re going to need all the help you can get. Firstly, you can die very quickly if you’re not careful.
Your captors are armed with everything from pistols, machine guns, flamethrowers and even heavily armoured mechanised walkers with mini guns. The soldiers themselves can be a particular pain as they have some sort of frontward facing shield, which means you have to be crafty and somehow grab them from behind it. Not so much a menace on their own but when facing a handful can be a challenge, no matter how big you are.
Apart from scrambling to find an exit, the specific rooms you enter could be counted as levels in the game. Each one has certain tasks which if completed earn you 100% contaminated zones, such as the zones being breached and the secret bio-containers found on each level, which in turn give you specific passive bonuses. Half of the gameplay is trying to remember where you’ve been and where you need to go to unlock the next area. It’s a beautiful little puzzler, if your idea of beauty is thrashing humans around and devouring them. It is definitely one to play if you like to be a ‘completionist’, just as long as you have a good memory of the levels you come across. There’s no map, and if you’re bad at navigating you’ll have a slim chance.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics suit the 2D platform horror puzzler to a side piece. Pixelated artistic style gives the game that ‘umph’ of fluid movement and speed. As well as providing a remarkable amount of fantastic ambience, lighting, and texture to each environment, as you pass through scientific laboratories to overgrown deserted lush abandoned areas, even murky underwater depths and generator rooms, each providing its own challenges and niche settings. It’s like you’ve burst into a multitude of levels from Sonic that have been abandoned and turned into a horror film. I will flip back onto the texture again just to emphasise the detail in each room, such as cables dangling from machinery and the way the foreground wipes cleanly to reveal where your tentacles are moving is very clever and gorgeous to witness.
This of course is accompanied by the audio which does a brilliant job. Even moments where you are in control of the horror, the sudden loud crescendos of noise as you barrage a door down to kill the survivors inside, still is enough to make you jump. This of course being emphasised by the music to accompany the ambience, creating an unsettling atmosphere as well as raising tension when in the midst of combating a mech. It does itself proud that even when you are in control of the reverse horror, it does well to remind you that you are still in fact the villain.
Carrion then puts you in the hot seat of the abomination that thrives on blood lust and brutal measures to ensure its survival, navigation and evolving through a maze of captors, puzzles and flashback chapters. All in all it does a remarkable job of making you feel uneasy even though you’re the enemy, as well as getting you to be creative, think on your feet, and power through to the finale. A fantastic game for those wanting a change of pace from the normality of traditional horrors.
- Great gameplay
- Refreshing Twist on the Horror Genre
- Graphics and Ambience setting really do it justice
- Story is a little difficult to grasp
- Layout of levels can be slightly disorientating
- Passive buffs you accumulate aren’t available until near the end of the game
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
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