A distinct quality one may notice In Asian Horror – as opposed to American Horror – is that in many instances you don’t win. The forces (heavily grounded in folklore and spiritualism) are always bigger than you, in a way that you can’t even comprehend, while the American way is reliant on keeping the tension high using graphic imagery and aggressive styles, and there has to be a goal in the end, weather to escape or defeat of the external force, and I feel like Carrion has the best of both worlds in that regard.
Sure, some multiplayer horror games enable you to live in the shoes of the zombies or the monsters that you were trying to kill, but considering the nature of those games, your powers were handled in moderation to keep things balanced. However, Things are different here, as you have the complete freedom to go on a slaughtering rampage without a hint of care about what happens to the humans of this tale, let go of all logic and consequences, and embrace the monster you have always wanted to be.
Carrion is now available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S (Tested), Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. The game is also playable for all Xbox Game Pass subscribers.
Carrion literally means the decaying flesh of dead animals, including human flesh, which is practically what you are in this game: an amorphous mass of flesh, mouths, eyes and several tentacles all over the place. In the beginning you start as a small lump of god knows what, locked in a tank and trapped in an underground research center, and from there you will have to break out and escape to the outside world, while crushing anything you find in your path.
The story is permeated with 80’s horror tropes and pop culture references that are too many to list here, however there is no written text or dialogue, just glimpses here and there about how this monster came to be found in the hands to these researches. I personally think there shouldn’t be because its all about the rare experience of having the upper hand in these horrifying moments, which I can’t deny was very exuberant.
The Thing (I mean Carrion) starts relatively small and vulnerable but in the process keeps retrieving its stolen genetic code to acquire new skills, or more particularly forms. The lump of flesh has 3 forms that gradually unlock, each with their own advantages and disadvantages in size, reach and abilities. Also if we take damage our mass shrinks and we have to replenish our forms again through feeding on human enemies, alive or not.
There are scattered cavities here and there with liquids that allow us to deposit a bit of our mass and recover it later, also save points easily replenish all of your lost blood so we could return back to gobbling up humanity again. There are some light metroidvania tones, and a slight amount of backtracking, but it’s mainly for acquiring upgrades and confined to one area so you won’t have to skim the entire of the game to find out the most appropriate escape route.
Many types of enemies are waiting for you and evolve as you get closer to the surface. They start with few numbers and use pistols but later they appear with flamethrowers and acquire heavier defense weapons such as turrets, drones and mechs. You won’t exactly be overpowering them all the time and sometimes you will have to think creatively about passing them by stealthily and avoiding their hearing and eye contact. I guess even monsters have their own worries to think about.
I don’t want to spoil some of the abilities or forms you acquire later since the game is short paced enough (3-4 hours at most), but i can say that there is a lot of charm in the ability to interact with everything in mind-blowing ways using our plasma tentacles. The game doesn’t tell you much about how you should behave but instead you reflexively get used to the various changes in styles using muscle memory and the transforming momentum.
There is great attentional to detail in how the monster movement animations change with every form and inside every set room. Its bizarre and all over the place, yet every severed limb and object seem calculated enough to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. The accompanying metal rhythms and strident piano tones are really spectacular and fit nicely with the recurrent actions of devouring your enemies or bending the areas to your will.
- Amazing gore animations in addition to fluid and vibrant movement sets
- Creative reverse horror setting with a lot of immersion in the monster role
- Worth the price being asked for it: 20$
- A map (or at least an overworld map) is a necessary addition
- Good pacing but a very short experience with no replay value