I didn’t think that a title about a bloody, tentacled, abomination of a beast would end up being one of my more pleasant gaming experiences this year, but here we are. 2020 is wild, and Carrion is a delight. It is a tidy little game that plays with Metroidvania concepts, never overstays its welcome, and leaves you rooting for one of gaming’s most disgusting protagonists.
Appropriately enough for a game of its genre, Carrion follows an unholy creature being kept in some secret government lab. We all know it probably shouldn’t exist. The scientists seem to be up to some shady stuff. And really, when things start out, you don’t seem all that menacing. Sure, you’re all blood, tentacles, teeth, eyes, and meat, but the initial moments of the game almost seem like… one where you’re consumed by a sense of panic? You wake up contained in a chamber, surrounded by people in suits, and your initial thought seems to be to swiftly get through ductwork and get away.
Granted, once you have a minute to find your bearings, you realize that hey! Those tentacles are for grabbing and those teeth are for eating. The fact that you’re so fast and dangly means you can effortlessly float around corridors, break through doors, and even slink around unnoticed. Besides, you’re a sin against nature. It is totally fine to chow down on the people shooting at you or who maybe wanted to experiment on you. It just makes you bigger and stronger.
And those questionable scientific discoveries that the researchers collected? Well, you can bust those up and absorb that DNA to boost your own parts. Shoot webs like Spider-man without the whole pain of being bit by a spider. It’s great, and adds a little Metroidvania to the mix. Carrion more plays with the concept of getting abilities to progress than anything, since the structure of the game has you attempting to get out of this facility and be free, but it still feels like a nice nod to the genre and I definitely felt accomplished when I was suddenly the gooey muscle mush train smash through barriers.
And, since you’re not invulnerable, it made me feel a bit for the monster. Because it was my monster. Getting shot hurts. Especially if those jerk humans had armor. Sure, eventually you can get a keratin layer at one point to help yourself or manipulate your mass to be smaller and more sneaky. But sometimes it just feels like such an indignity and I was mad my grotesque buddy was being hurt.
In Carrion, it feels like you’re the lesser of two evils. Because you’re probably totally evil. I mean, you don’t go tearing through and nibbling on that many humans without getting that “title.” But also, like maybe some of these people have it coming? Look at the places you are going through and the weapons these folks are packing. Maybe I’m a little biased, since I’m clearly on team murderbeast, but they’re no innocents! Which really helps make Carrion so satisfying.
Carrion is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.