Carrion Review – Thy Flesh Consumed

You gotta be fucking kidding!
Ever since my angsty teenage years,
I’ve had a fascination with horror
films like: “Alien”,
“The Thing” and George
Romero’s “Dead Trilogy”.
The claustrophobic sense of being
trapped in an enclosed environment,
with one or more savagely
inhumane monsters,
makes for a really tense experience.
In the case of Alien,
it’s a poorly lit transport
ship in outer space,
piloted by a crew of space truckers
just trying to get by, when a strange
alien life form implants
its vicious offspring
in the guts of John Hurt
Oh dear!
Couldn’t have happened to a
better actor, honestly.
What a crying shame!
In the sequel, it’s a moody
colony based on a hostile
planet far from earth,
infested with dozens
or hundreds of similar creatures.
In both films, the hallways
are dark and foreboding,
and every vent or corner could
be a hiding place for a monster
that’s just waiting to jump out
and devour the characters.
This makes for an ideal
premise to adapt to a video game
as depending on which
side of the playing field
you get to occupy,
and the intensity of the experience.
It’s either a stealth game,
an action game, or a horror game.

that’s exactly what the British
developer Rebellion did in 1999
with their first person
shooter Aliens Vs. Predator.
AVP had you playing
as the titular alien lifeform
as well as the savage invisible hunter
from the classic Arnold
Schwarzenegger action movie.
You got to play as the bad guy
and wreak havoc on unsuspecting humans
while also having
to be cunning about it
and not just going out guns blazing
lest you get yourself torn apart
in seconds by a smart gun.
Carrion is a game
much of the same mold.
Developed by the appropriately
named: Phobia Game studio
and published by Devolver Digital.
Publishers, of all things edgy,
hyper violent, mid-tier
and highly stylized.
In fact, it’s not really possible
to talk about Carrion
without talking about AVP
because this game is essentially
a different take on the Alien campaign
from that series.
A lot of the visual design
and aesthetics
are reminiscent of Alien.
The industrial sci fi hallways
have the same creepy ambiance,
the same crawlable vents
poor lighting and
massive pressurized doors.
You play as an unknown life
form in a research lab
that escapes confinement
to the dismay of your captors.
You are not a humanoid life form,
but rather a blob of organs and teeth,
a terrifying force that defies nature.
A blood soaked torrent of gore.
The game sees you slithering across
surfaces, destroying metal grates,
through ventilation
shafts and consuming the living.
Just as in AVP,
you can crawl on walls and ceilings
and regain health
by eating.
And in carrion, the more you eat,
the bigger you get!
The movement is
animated in great detail.
You slither and slide
through the game world, bouncing
back and forth with a sense of weight
and acceleration.
That is only intensified
when you grow in size.
Your massive form can crush
objects and light fixtures
as you move vertically.
And as you move vertically
tentacles shoot out in every direction
to maintain your forward momentum
by pulling you upwards or allowing you
to come to a standstill
as you hang from the ceiling.
Every object in the environment
gives off a sound when you interact
with it, even down to the ceiling
mounted chains. and the creature
And the creature gives off
so many slimy sounds as it
squeezes its way through the facility.
The physics can sometimes be comical
in tandem with the sound effects
as you reach for things
to collide with the walls
and cause mayhem and destruction.
Overall, the music ambient
noises and human screams
really help convey
a sense of dread and disgust,
making you feel both powerful
and repulsive at the same time.
You almost feel bad
every time you kill a human.
But you have to!
It’s how you heal!
And if these guys are going
to shoot at me,
I’m going to need some more hit points!
Yeah, sorry friends,
but a man’s gotta eat!
Who am I kidding?
It’s good to be bad!
[Private Drake]
Oh Vasquez!
You’re just too bad!
Speaking of which,
the games enemies vary greatly.
Where you start off
feeling quite unstoppable, feeding on.
fleshy humans armed at most
with tiny handguns.
Later, parts of the game sees
you dealing with:
inedible shielded soldiers, mechs
and flying drones.
So this game isn’t
just a mindless action game.
You do have to play very carefully
and be sure to sneak up
on most enemies
or play tactically against them.
A single guy with an assault rifle
or flamethrower
can often take you out in seconds
if you’re not careful.
And it might be a smart idea
to save those scattered
body parts as snacks,
in case your health gets too low.
Enemies are often hyper
aware of every sound you make,
and it takes very little to get them
looking in your direction,
as you’d imagine would be the case
when a massive blob
swarms down the hallway.
Aside from the obligatory power ups,
there are several optional
upgrades that can be
found throughout each area.
These are substances
that the creature incorporates
into its DNA to alter its form.
Some are quite substantial,
like the ability
to turn into a swarm of worms
when submerged in water,
while others
just improve your energy meter,
or otherwise
increase your effectiveness.
Your maximum size
increases over the course of the game
and you eventually end up
growing from the size
of a living room to a full train car.
Being this huge means,
you have a bigger health pool
to draw from in combat
as well as unique offensive
abilities, depending on your size.
But it also makes you a slower and far
easier target to hit.
Not all of your power ups stack.
In fact,
several of them are built into
your multiple forms.
It’s possible
to deposit a part of yourself,
and not only is this necessary
to solve certain puzzles,
but it can even be beneficial
if you want to take
a more stealthy approach
and make for a slimmer profile.
This option to approach each situation
in multiple different ways.
The gameplay feeling varied.
Do you force your way
through an otherwise
impenetrable barrier
and your huge blob form?
Or do you turn invisible
in your smaller cell
form to pass through
a trip wire undetected?
The more damage you absorb,
the smaller you get.
Almost as a reminder to be careful
and not get too overconfident.
There are many different
abilities depending on your form,
but my favorite one is available
at all times.
From the moment you unlock it.
It’s an ability where you take
complete control of an enemy,
and this way
you can use them to fight for you
and solve puzzles on your behalf.
It’s a guaranteed way to feel clever
when you take control of a soldier
and use them to wipe out
the rest of their squad.
The stealth aspect of this game
is very entertaining,
but it can sometimes feel a bit
frustrating since there is no way
to get a quick overview
of the layout of a room
if it’s beyond a certain size.
So it’s easy to jump in
to take out an enemy, only to discover
that half a dozen guns are now pointed
at you from every direction,
and you have to hightail it out
of there before you’re turned to mush.
It can also feel a bit frustrating
when enemies can shoot you
from a vantage point
where it doesn’t seem like they
should be able to see you, sometimes
even shooting you through walls,
though that only
happens on rare occasions.
Carrion is very much
in the Metroidvania style
so there’s a lot of backtracking
when you unlock new abilities
that give you access
to previously inaccessible areas.
For the most part,
the game does a good job
signaling where you need to go next
but it can be easy to forget
where you’re going if you go away
from the game for a while.
And this is compounded by the fact
that the game allows you to travel
back to pretty much anywhere
you’ve ever been in the map.
Towards the later parts of the game,
it starts to get very difficult
to figure out
where you’re supposed to go next.
So I ended up having to
use a walkthrough
to figure it out,
which is far from ideal.
All of this would be solved
if the game had a map feature,
but I can see why the developers
didn’t include it.
It doesn’t feel very logical
after all that the creature
would conceive of space
the way that humans do,
and it would break the immersion
that the game is otherwise
trying to build up.
If you could open up a map menu
I would highly recommend Carrion.
I beat the game in about 6 hours
and it only barely managed to
overstay its welcome.
The game has a free
game of the year update
that adds a full Christmas
themed level, which is fun.
There’s not much of
a Christmas theme to it
except for it taking place
during the winter season,
the occasional festive Christmas light
and maybe a single radio
that plays a Christmas song.
You don’t get
to eat any elves or rummage
through Santa’s workshop,
but it makes for an entertaining
bite sized package.
Carrion is not for the
faint of heart though,
so if you’re squeamish about
it might be a bit too much.
Or then again, maybe not.
After all, the pixelated art style
makes it hard
to put a face
to these little human blobs.
Certainly a lot harder than in AVP
where you often get up
close and personal.
I haven’t quite decided
what my next video will be,
but I think I might go with something
a little lighter next time around.
At some point though,
I’ll definitely be covering the edgy
wannabe smash hit of 1996:
Something about the incoherent art
style and full motion video
cutscenes strikes
me as ripe for a video.
As unnecessary as it sounds:
I would very much appreciate
any like subscribes or comments
you care to throw my way.
I’d love to hear what you guys think.
Until next time,
I think I’ll have myself a snack.

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