Carrion Review

Introduction

Carrion is a “reverse horror game” and was developed by Phobia Game Studio and published by Devolver Digital. It was released to PC and Consoles in July 2020.

Review

We all know the story where you’re the last surviving human in a research station or a space station, and you have to kill the big bad monster to be able to survive. But have you ever thought about it from the monster’s perspective? Well now you can play it from the monster’s perspective! You get to go around killing everyone who’s alive and completely sabotaging a research station. But is it worth it? Well let’s get into it.

So the game starts off, and you’re a monster in a glass capsule. Once you break out, the carnage begins! Unfortunately the game is labeled as a “horror” game, but it’s really not. Maybe gory sure, but not scary. You rip the heads off scientists, and eat their remains as you grow and become more dangerous. But you don’t grow the way you would. As I was playing the game and eating corpses, I was wondering why I wasn’t really getting any bigger. Well that is all behind story progress. So you eat corpses to regain your health, and once you’ve unlocked your second, and third phase, once you regain enough health, you then morph into those forms. As you get bigger though, the game becomes harder to control because it’s impossible to know what part of the body you’re actually controlling. So trying to get through narrow passageways was a struggle when you think you control center mass, but suddenly one of your ends seem to be the point of control.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any motivation as to why you’re morphing and growing. The story just isn’t there. As you venture through the station, the most you get for the story are little scenarios that you find, that contain “flashbacks”. But even these are vague at best. You play as a scientist who goes underground, then eventually turns into the monster, and then you’re captured? But how did you become the monster? Why? Was there a virus? Or an airborne contagion? Why do you want to escape the station? Maybe I missed something. Or maybe the story just tried to go off of vague environmental storytelling and lets you try to piece something together yourself.

The gameplay was a fun time at first, as you rip and tear and chew on human remains, but a couple hours into the game it became stale and aggravating. Eventually the enemies get shields and flamethrowers and other pieces of weaponry to try and kill you with, and you then have to find ways around it. Eventually you get powers yourself, like a spider web type thing, or the ability to grow spikes in your body, but that wasn’t enough. It didn’t feel like those were great ways around these weapons, as they used “energy”. Once you were out, you were then subject to them full force. So you’d need to try and get behind the shields, and half the time your tentacle wouldn’t reach them before the enemy turned around and was gunning you down again. It didn’t help that if you ate the enemies that actually attacked you, you never got health back. Instead you shook them around like a dog trying to rip a pillow apart then tossed them away.

As you move through the station, the game plays like a Metroidvania. You develop new powers which allow you to go back to old areas and open up new paths or find new items. Sometimes you had to use your abilities to open doors or solve a few puzzles, but not often. I ended up finding a few of the items in my run, which gave me “more health” but my health bar never truly grew, so it was hard to actually see if they did anything. But the worst thing about this game is easily that there is no map. That’s right. A Metroidvania with no map. The game is mostly linear in a sense, but there are quite a few times after an area, where you have to go to an old area, and it’s just not told to you well enough. So you end up going all the way around the station hoping for the best. You don’t even get a “current objective” tab. There were times where I ended up spending ten minutes trying to get back to an area to see if I had to go down another path, because again, there was no map! So finding my way around was a giant pain in the ass!

The game has a free DLC pack that was “Christmas” themed. I was so excited for this. When I beat the game, I immediately jumped in hoping for the best. But it turned out just as bland as the base game. You get dropped into a room, with absolutely no context at all. As if you’re playing a game, and chose to load up someone’s file who’s 60 hours in and you end up going “what the hell do I do?”.  The only minor difference in this DLC is that you see snow outside sometimes and their Christmas lights up around this research station. Is it the same station as the main game? Or a different one? Well I think it’s a different one, but with no real story, it’s impossible to tell. The DLC is also just one area. So 40 minutes later, it ended and I felt so unfulfilled because I had absolutely no idea what happened or why I was there. Just to cause carnage on Christmas?

Rating

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Fun Being The Monster
  • Interesting Locale

Cons:

  • Not Scary At All
  • Gameplay Grows Stale
  • No Map
  • Very Vague Storytelling

Summary

I went into Carrion expecting a silly story, considering I’m the monster and I’m killing the humans. But all I found was a vague story at best, gameplay that grew stale after a couple hours, and a Metroidvania with no map at all! Plus the only real scary thing about this was how bad the controls get later on in the game. The Christmas DLC was also very uneventful, considering they just throw you in and expect you to go. It’s hard to recommend this game after the first hour of gameplay. There’s better horror games out there. Maybe we’ll one day get a good game where you play as a monster, with real motivation other than “you captured me, so I’m going to kill you all!”.

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Game & Developer Information

Developer Website: Phobia Game Studio
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: Devolver Digital
Publisher Socials: Twitter

Images curtesy of https://www.igdb.com/

Carrion – Reveal Trailer

Published by oniwalker

Co-owner of NodeGamers(dot)com. Reviewer and Guide Writer. I'll play just about anything as I cry about my backlog!

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