Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Reverse Horror Adventure
Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Official Site: devolverdigital.com
Release Date: July 23, 2020
There’s something simply nostalgic about classic horror movies. As much as many recently are innovative, there’s something about the grotesque beauty of older horror flicks that modern movies can’t replicate. If you’ve watched them yourself, you’ve likely at one point or another wondered what it’d be like to be in the shoes of said monster. While a film has yet to replicate that, I think Carrion is the closest thing we’ll have for a while.
Being the Monster of Your Dreams in Carrion
This reverse horror game has you playing as the horrifying creature you often fear in your dreams. Made up of various bits of flesh, you’re left to consume so much of the world around you that it’s all just biomass to you. Playing Carrion is less about playing an evil from the perspective of a bystander, and more about embracing that inner demon. That small part within all of us that wants to see what it’s like to be evil, and how exactly they do so without remorse. During your time with the game, killing innocent civilians is nothing more than an obstacle to you. Gone are your moral objections, and in is the slaughter.
Carrion almost shares a lot with DOOM in that sense, offering you the freedom to kill as you wish. Getting rewarded for making the right decisions, even when those decisions bring into question your own sanity. All displayed in a beautiful array of blood and gore. While Carrion obviously doesn’t share the realistic look as compared to that game, it still does all that gore justice. Everything from the floor you step on covering in what was once a person is implied, even if just a few pixels on your screen. It’s a testament to just what a pixel art style can portray even with lower detail.
Carrion’s Satisfaction of Slaughter
It helps imply that sense of disgusting rampage when Carrion’s sounds are oh so satisfying. Everything from the crunch of bone to the squishing of flesh moving across the floor conveys that disgust that makes you question your own sanity. That’s probably in the same sense that you question my sanity while reading this, but I promise I’m not crazy, at least most of the time. It’s only more satisfying when given some fitting tunes, that of which further extend the horrors being committed in front of you.
That isn’t even to mention the beautiful progression, which ties Carrion’s moral objections and deviation of norms into your evolution. As you evolve and learn better ways to kill, so do your opponents. From the basic citizens with a simple pistol, all the way to beefy mechs, there’s a sense of progression that feels natural. Just the same way the growth of your character showcases newer and much more powerful abilities. Not only do you grow as a player, but you’re rewarded with new tools and bigger challenges that grow you into the grotesque beast you’re destined to become.
Wrapped Into One (Mostly) Great Package
All of which is wrapped together with a largely implied story rather than a traditionally emotional experience. Carrion’s twisted rampage tells the story of an organism sheltered in containment, breaking free to consume anything and everything. After that, you’re really on your own to put together the puzzle. There’s an immense labyrinth to be solved here, but it takes a back seat to what you’re here for. If you want to get on with your murderous rampage, you’re more than welcome to do so. For those who like to read between the lines though, there’s a big enough library for you to sift through. Trust me, as a theory crafter myself, I feel you. This may sound like a flaw, but it’s perfect for the kind of game Carrion is trying to be.
But of course, nothing can ever be perfect. While Carrion has a lot of strong and unique areas, its deviation from the norm extends to common courtesies. The most notable of which is a map, which almost feels like a sin to lose in the context of an exploration game. This four-hour journey is an expansive one, and getting lost is rather easy. Without that idea of direction, you’ll often feel like your beastly desires are quelled due to traveling times. The same goes for its accessibility, which leaves a lot to be desired. Still, there is something extra special in there that I wouldn’t pass up based on this alone.
Verdict: Carrion offers up a rampage of blood and gore that you’ll have trouble putting down. There’s nothing quite like it, with reverse horror largely untouched in this industry. This four-hour venture features plenty of secrets to be uncovered, and a satisfying gameplay loop to satiate your evil appetite. It definitely has its flaws though, such as a lack of guidance in the form of your map. If you’re looking for another unique title from Devolver though, Carrion is sure to leave you hungering for more.
- Unique premise
- Beautiful pixel art
- Solid sound design
- Satisfying gameplay
- Well thought out progression
- Lack of map
- Missing accessibility