When the first trailer for Devolver Digital and Phobia Game Studios’s Carrion dropped, I grinned with sinister glee. As a lover of hardcore violent anime, what was showcased was the chance to be the twisted creature that mows down the heroes with ease. Now that Carrion has arrived, I can confidently say that not only does it deliver on that promise, but rips & tears through the Metroidvania genre like it was nothing.
Carrion has a very simple premise: you are a tentacled monster, and you are itching to escape from your lab confines. As you crawl from one room to the next, you’ll have to piece yourself back together, kill everything that moves, and seek your freedom by any means necessary. But the lab that you’re stuck in is as tricky as the beast you play, with traps, locks, and even some robot foes waiting to cause frustration. Fortunately, you’re the type of tentacled monster that doesn’t back away from a challenge.
The real fun of the game comes from how much guilt-free destruction you can commit throughout the lab. Ripping down doors, eating humans, and destroying traps is showcased with a gleeful smile from an anarchic creature. And Carrion doesn’t hold back from how violent of a monster it is, as you watch tear humans and objects like bloodstained paper. It’s one of those games that’s like watching a Grindhouse movie or an early work of Peter Jackson’s: it’s so gory, it’s funny!
One can’t help but laugh maniacally as you have the monster eat one human after another. It brings to mind the goofiness of Primal Rage and how one obtains health in that classic fighter. But there’s a nice little bonus to eating humans: the more you eat, the bigger you grow. As Carrion progresses, you’ll be given the chance to evolve into an even more terrifying monster than when you first started out. And with bigger forms comes greater abilities, some of which will aid you when you revisit certain areas.
Each power can aid in solving puzzles and avoid bodily harm. Shooting webs, smashing through wooden doors, and pulling plugs will let you take down enemies and enter once-blocked areas. A neat little trick the monster can do is revert to previous forms, so as to switch to certain powers that’ll help you get through certain areas. Granted, it sometimes takes a bit to get to find that gooey area to revert to your past self, but it’s somewhat easy to remember where to go when you either need to plop a form out or swallow it back up.
A stealth-like mindset appears when an area’s crawling with soldiers and flying robots. Despite you being a behemoth, you’re not impenetrable from bullets. As such, hiding until the right moment to strike plays an important role in how you conquer this game. Later on in the game, the ability to control humans will also come in handy when it comes to clearing rooms and solving certain puzzles. (When you control one with a flamethrower, the real unexpected mayhem begins!)
Despite its nonstop fun, there are two little gripes Carrion has that keeps it from being a perfect chaos creator. The first is the lack of a map system. Although I can understand that tentacled monsters might not be able to read maps, some of the layouts can be slightly difficult to memorize. Because of this, you might find yourself stuck in a certain area for a half-hour longer than you should be.
One other issue comes in the form of its controls. They’re not impossible to figure out, but it might not be until the game’s final act when you’ve finally mastered it all. Aiming can be tricky, especially when you need to be quick to destroy soldiers. Your hands may be a little sore by game’s end, but the carnage you witness with be worth it.
Completing Carrion will take you roughly six hours. There are some hidden areas with power ups that will help in strengthening the monster, with nine in total waiting to be unlocked. You can complete the game without these power-ups, but the tougher areas later on may need these to make certain paths easier to conquer.
- Very unique premise
- Fast-paced gameplay
- Wonderfully gory
- Controls take time getting used to
- Map layout somewhat confusing
Carrion is every hardcore anime fan’s dream come true. With its fun gameplay and gory mechanics, Phobia Game Studios delivers a Metroidvania that will stay with you long after you slither into the sunset. Intense and clever, Carrion shines and slimes as one of the best adventures anyone can take this year.
Promotion consideration provided by Thomas Schulenberg of Tinsley PR. Reviewed on the Xbox One.