Carrion (Impressions)

What happens when you take a “Metroidvania” style game, throw in controls that make you feel super powered from the outset and throw in buckets of blood? I’m fairly certain it’ll be Carrion from Phobia Game Studio. After seeing it feature in Devolver Digital’s most recent presentation it’s eye catching in terms of its pixel violence which meant I really needed to check it out. 🙂

When the game starts you don’t know much apart from taking control of a red tentacled blob that’s escaped confinement in a lab and is trying to find your way out. What’s really interesting is how easy it is to traverse the environment. Running, jumping and crawling are not a part of your toolset as your character’s multi-tentacled body is more than capable of reaching out and pulling itself through the environment and it’s an impressive sight to see with its fluidity of movement and just how different it feels compared to characters used in similar games. The creature itself is very distinctive and squishy… in a tear you limb from limb kind of way.

See that red squishy thing? That’s you!

The environment you’re in is less interesting as it’s is a little generic in style but admittedly it’s not really the star here. But it’s a large sprawling map with a maze of doors, tunnels and vents with plenty of areas that are cut off until you acquire the means to pass through. Over time your creature acquires new abilities to assist in this and one thing that’s novel is how these are tied to your creature’s biomass that increases during play. Some abilities are dependent on your size so if you find a situation that requires you to be in a lighter form you can choose to leave a portion of that biomass in a pool where you can later return to pick it up.

You’ll find save points which will be useful when you start encountering enemies who begin to offer resistance and appropriately your creature will set up a suitably gross looking nest there to make it clear it’s staked its turf. Combat is interesting in its implementation in that it requires you to position the creature close enough to your target to “aim” its tentacles and then respond appropriately. Encounters with the human residents usually end up bloody as you tear them apart to regain health and biomass. Depending on what your approach it might mean grabbing a grate to open a passage, capturing a helpless human for consumption or better yet, grabbing that grate and smashing the helpless human with it for even better results. And the game isn’t afraid show those poor humans get shredded which allows the pixelated art style to get away with a lot.

When the humans get the upper hand it tends to hurt.

Those gory pixels coupled with the strong music and sound effects really hammer home the experience and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. Whether it’s dealing with numerous screaming humans or trying to avoid a napalm death you really want to have the sound turned up to make the most of it. It’s so gratuitous and exaggerated that you can’t take it too seriously. I’ve still got plenty more to play through but I like its take on a familiar genre and how it capitalizes on how nasty your creature can be. I’m sure there’s some justification as to why it’s happening but right now, just being the “bad guy” is FUN.

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