Gaming Review: Carrion

Review: Carrion

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There’s been various games over the years that put players in control of monsters. Players have been able to take control of the likes of aliens such as Predators and Xenomorphs as they poked holes and ripped the spines off humans in gruesome fashion. Now there’s a new kid on the block with the arrival of Carrion and its carnivorous monster.

What makes Carrion more unique compared to the various attempts and giving players a chance to experience a game from the monster’s perspective is that there is no logical reason for its monster’s thinking beyond survival. If anything, playing Carrion feels like watching a disaster film like Cloverfield or Godzilla from the monster’s perspective. The creature isn’t murdering humans out of spite or because it sees them as trophies with a pulse. Instead, it relies entirely on its primal need to survive and escape the humans that have contained it, in order to study it and perhaps replicate its unique abilities.

Given that the creature has been stripped of its various powers, it is necessary to slowly collect each of them. Not that it’s a weakling compared to the humans that stand in its way. Despite the controls being a bit slippery and making it somewhat difficult to aim, it’s still easy to kill most humans in a most gory manner. This does start to change as humans started to use better weapons and even the likes of mechs as players continue to explore new locations. However, the use of new abilities means that the creature is never at a disadvantage.

Oddly enough, the creature isn’t that strong and a few bullets can take it out. This highlights the importance of being sneaky and maximising the use of objects found in the environment to overwhelm enemies and this is all the more important once they start using shields that can hurt the monster.

Although players get to know basically nothing about any of the humans, it’s still highly effective at making them feel bad for them. The sounds that humans make as civilians run around the current area like headless chickens or when any of them are being munched on by the monster are horrifying. The monster can basically easily chuck humans around the room like a rag doll and tear them apart limb by limb as it continues to devour its snack and regain health.

Now, whilst Carrion might seem quite simplistic in action, it is actually anything but that. It’s subtle approach when it comes to its visuals makes the blood and gore splashed all over a section after the latest carnage all the more striking. Its narrow corridors and tunnels that the creature passes through as it gets closer to being free could strike fear at the heart of the claustrophobic out there. An eerie soundtrack makes playing Carrion all the more reminiscent of creature films from the heydays of horror.

Perhaps one of its best idea is how it use the various abilities that the creature gains to give access to new sections in an area. In a move most likely inspired by the likes of Metroid, each ability is resourcefully used to not only make the monster more deadly, but to also find new ways to test players with fairly simple puzzles. It’s even necessary to make the creature smaller or bigger, in order to use certain abilities and that makes solving the puzzles more interesting. The only downside to being able to go back to previously explored areas is that it makes the lack of a map all the more puzzling. Instead, the game puts pressure on players to remember that one guy cowering in a locked room from earlier on in the game that could be mind controlled to open the door after gaining the ability much later.

In its defense, Carrion does like to gently nudge players towards the path, but those that might not have the sharpest mind or issues with concentrating could struggle. Even just the ability to bring up an arrow to locate the next objective would come in handy. There is an ability to track down hives that are activated to open up the path for the next area, but it’s not always clear how to get to these.

Scattered throughout the game are also sections where players briefly play as a human. Although it’s clear that these are meant to be clumsy to show the superiority of the monster, it can still feel like it’s adding nothing of value. In fact, it would have been more beneficial to just show them given that humans don’t even have any lines of dialogue. The one benefit from having these very brief human sections is that it will make players wonder just what is going on and what are the origins of the monster.

Carrion proves that it’s a capable beast of a game that is able to entertain for the couple of hours that its story lasts. It’s shocking and gruesome at times without any real meaning and that makes it all the more worth experiencing.

SUMMARY

+ Excellent use of abilities gained with progression.
+ Gory and destructive nature of monster makes it feel authentic.
- Lack of a map can end up confusing players.
- Brief human sections don't add much.

(Reviewed on Xbox One, also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC)

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