Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Adventure, Action, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 23/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Make me a monster!
Playing CARRION on the Nintendo switch reminded me so much of one of my favourite science fiction horror films from the ’80s by John carpenter: The Thing. Crawling about and feeding on the human population in a military facility, all while searching for bio-capsules to gain new abilities which allow you to gain access to new areas and lay siege to them is engaging and fun, albeit with a frustrating omission of the map screen which makes navigation difficult at times. Let’ take a trip into the twisted world of CARRION to see if this is a title worth owning.
From the get-go, you take on the form of an alien-like creature who has been stripped of its abilities and subsequently contained within its own prison in a huge military facility. By breaking out and consuming living tissue, you’ll grow and become stronger, which will allow you to go deeper and seek out all your other abilities that are hidden away. As you move around the facility, you need to shrink down or grow according to your environment, allowing you to gain access to certain areas and rooms.
Each stage of growth has some unique abilities that are tied to your size: you’ll need to use pools of pink fluid to divide yourself losing mass in the process, gaining back mass and new abilities depending on the situation. For example’ when you’re smaller you can go invisible for a short time allowing you to bypass trip lasers (when unlocked) or being bigger allows you charge into specific structures, breaking them. This cycle of growing and shrinking enables you to experience each ability, and using them effectively will allow you to explore the compound further.
Abilities will be gained from finding bio-capsules around each location which means you can gain the upper hand in battle. You’ll also have the ability to take control of a human for a brief moment allowing you to traverse their world or solve puzzles without being shot at, however, as soon as you open fire, the gig is up, and the humans will attack you, reverting you to creature form.
If you’re fighting in close quarters as the creature, every hit will deplete your body mass indicated at the top of the screen until nothing is left, ending your rampage. However, you’ll be re-spawned back at your last check-point if you fall in battle.
As you traverse the world, your monster crawls across the floor, with tentacles grabbing any available surfaces to move your mass across gaps or squeeze into vents and tight spots. This allows you to move around the facility unnoticed or get the jump on unexpected humans. The fun begins when these situations arise, and you get the ability to smash and devour them, which is highly entertaining. Sometimes moving into small vents can lead to some movement issues, but it doesn’t happen all the time.
As I mentioned before, new abilities become available as you progress. These allow you to do some very useful things such as: conducting electrical to power your abilities or encasing yourself with a hardened exterior to protect yourself against explosive mines.
With these abilities, you’ll gain access further into the depths of the facility, learn more about creatures motivations, and understand the origins through the perspective of the scientists who discovered you. Controlling the humans felt a little clunky at times, and certainly not as fluid as the monster. Thankfully these sections were reasonably short.
Of course, your trek through this facility isn’t going to be an easy one. The humans have made sure you’re always fighting for your life in several different hostile environments. Some of the humans may be going about their day-to-day jobs or even using the toilet when you stumble upon them. But not all humans will fall victim to your insatiable taste for flesh. Some humans will be prepared with full-body armour stopping you from eating them. Also, you’ll encounter flying droids, mech suits and flamethrower units. It only takes a few hits to burn your mass away; in this instance, a quick retreat is advised.
You’ll find areas in which you can gain all mass back. Saving your progress in these areas can be located with your growl ability which shows you a rough direction where each save area is. I did encounter a few moments where I became hopelessly lost, which became frustrating as I had to back-track and try to work out where I was. This was made difficult as sometimes areas look very similar to each other and without any map, it made navigation a chore.
The game took me five hours to complete (not 100%) which I’d consider to be fairly short. But it got me wondering if it would have been an even shorter experience if a map had been available – maybe that’s why they didn’t include one perhaps.
Graphics & Sounds
I love graphics in CARRION. The Creature is pretty horrific with its mass of tentacles, and it’s definitely something you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley. There’s a genuine sense of fear in the inhabitants when you start crawling down a wall or chasing after a lone survivor. Watching them scream and start shooting wildly makes you feel unstoppable.
The graphics make every impact and violent moment extremely gratifying as blood splashes across the floor or stains the walls. The music reminds me a lot of The Thing with some very creepy groans from the monster, and the disturbing, unsettling tracks set the scene well.
CARRION is another great Indie title to add to anyone’s collection even though the game stumbles a little in the map department/navigation. It’s still really enjoyable and has an interesting story that tells the tale of a creature trying to reclaim its parts to take on humanity. Satisfying, unstoppable, and relentless, CARRION offers you the ability to become the monster and make the humans pay. What’s not to like?
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase CARRION from the Nintendo eShop.