Carrion review for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Carrion lets you control a vile, amorphous blob trapped in a secret underground government facility, as it casually murders everyone responsible for its captivity. You are the unfathomable, indescribable horror that would send the protagonist in a Lovecraft story mad, flinging yourself around its tight corridors by your tentacles, chomping on scientists and soldiers alike, growing in size after feasting on them.
There is no other Metroidvania game quite like Carrion. In a genre focused on puzzle-solving, combat, and movement, Carrion is a “reverse horror game” that’s all about chucking a monster around and letting it cause as much destruction and bloodshed as possible. But does its unique concept translate to a game worth playing?
Carrion‘s nameless monster navigates each area by way of attaching itself to the walls. This means that there are no tight jumps to worry about, as you instead grapple from walls and swiftly lunge into new areas. Combat is similarly simple — the monster grabs humans with its tentacles, and you use the analog stick to fling them into its awful mouth.
I had assumed that all this eating would lead to the monster eventually growing uncontrollably large, sort of like a vulgar Katamari Damacy ball but with human flesh rather than staples and lampposts. However, there remains a limit to the size that the monster can grow, and you hit this limit early on.
Rather than you growing so big that you can’t be contained, Carrion instead uses the monster’s size to grant it different abilities. When you are smaller, you’ll be able to use your thinner tentacles to grab out-of-reach levers. When you’re larger, you’ll use your increased strength to barge through certain doors. As you progress, more abilities will be unlocked, with its late-game skills making you nigh-on unstoppable.
There are plenty of games that let players fulfill a power fantasy, but not many allow you to do so as a monstrous red ball locked in an SCP Foundation-esque containment facility. But while remaining super powerful from beginning to end is a lot of fun, developer Phobia Game Studio struggles when it comes to providing a challenge.
Unlike most Metroidvania games, Carrion doesn’t let you access a map. There is some degree of back-and-forth between areas, but I rarely struggled with navigating my way around, and each area typically contains a brief lever and door puzzle or a handful of enemies. Enemy types are limited, with the majority being men with guns and shields. There’s a bunch of cannon fodder to chew on, too, who won’t put up much of a fight but will make you feel like a big scary blob.
Later areas are a little more taxing, but Carrion never puts too many hurdles in front of you as you hurtle from A to B. With its movement limited to pushing an analog stick in a direction, you’re basically an unstoppable force meeting a series of very movable and definitely edible objects.
This causes your time as the monstrous blob to become swiftly repetitive. You’ll open a doorway here, chew on a human there, but ultimately you’re happily grappling through areas as you make your escape. While it is initially invigorating to basically assume the Xenomorph’s role aboard the Nostromo, this eventually gives way to tedium as you carry out the same tasks over and over again. Though it’s a short game at 4–5 hours long, it still has way too much repetition stuffed into it.
This isn’t helped by Carrion‘s intriguing but threadbare plot. As an escaped entity of unknown origin, you piece together the story behind the facility you’re trapped in by way of entering strange portals that briefly let you take control of a human character. However, this never really picks up any meaningful momentum.
It’s a shame, too, because essentially assuming control of an SCP entry trying to break out of its confines is an enticing concept. We’ve seen games such as Control provide its own spin on the SCP Foundation, but turning it on its head and placing players in the role of the monstrosity trying to escape a shady government organization is a new one. Unfortunately, Carrion doesn’t explore its story in an interesting way.
Carrion Review | The Final Verdict
Carrion is a great concept that becomes repetitive in practice. Taking control of a terrifying monster and mowing down a bunch of humans is fun at first, but it shows its hand far too quickly and gets stuck in a rut of giving the player the same tasks to perform over and over again. With simplistic movement and easy combat, Carrion is a straightforward Metroidvania game with few frills aside from its unique protagonist. With that being said, its climax does set it up for a sequel that could elaborate on what Phobia Game Studio has set up in its debut, so I’m still interested to see where this awful blob will go next.