by December 26, 2019 @ 9:09 am
This preview is based on the limited time Steam demo of Carrion, which is no longer available to download.
John Carpenter’s The Thing was notorious for its ambiguous ending, which showed a battered and bruised MacReady and Childs staring each other down, each individual unsure if he’s looking into the eyes of an alien creature. Carrion from Phobia Game Studio, which features a very similar bloody, blob-like creature with tentacles, doesn’t force such ambiguity on you — it’s very apparent who the monster is: you!
Described as a reverse horror game, Carrion is all about death and destruction, and it makes you the reason for both. Granted playing the villain is nothing new for games, Carrion does it in a cool way by making you an amorphous monster, adding a fun sci-fi horror vibe akin to the aforementioned The Thing, and even Alien.
The creature’s movement in Carrion is smooth and fast. You can guide the monster up walls, creep along floors, and break through barriers using pure force. Controlling the creature just feels good thanks to the fluid, precise control.
The Steam demo of the game was set in what seemed like an underground facility filled with scientists and security guards. The unarmed characters usually ran away screaming the moment they saw the monster, while the armed guards fired on sight. There are a few ways to dispose of characters. The quickest and easiest is to use your tentacles to grab them and either fling them at the wall or eat them. Alternatively, you can grab metal doors or grates and whip them at these characters… and then you can eat them.
The more you eat, the bigger the creature becomes. This, in turn, means that it’ll also be a bigger target for armed characters and wall-mounted heat-seeking turret guns. The game can get pretty tough when you become a bullet sponge, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get gunned down pretty quickly. There are save points in the game, but if you’re killed after making decent progress, you’ll have to repeat a big chunk of an area, which can get frustrating.
You’ll unlock new abilities as you play. One of my favorites allowed the monster to shoot a sticky, web-like goop at enemies, essentially trapping them and making them easy pickings. A charged dash gave the monster the ability to break through tougher walls — opening up new and undiscovered areas — as well as bulldoze through those pesky armed guards.
There were a few unreachable areas in the Carrion demo, but I was able to access some of them once I obtained the charged dash attack. I’m not sure how far the game will lean on the Metroidvania element, but being able to go back and visit previously locked areas was cool, and I hope there’s more of it in the final game.
While a bit of the horror is stripped away when you’re the hunter and not the prey, Carrion does a good job of making the experience look and feel like a horror movie. Environments are dark and grimy, and the creature leaves a trail of blood and alien slime along the floors and walls as it splatters human body parts all over the place.
If you ever wanted to play as the Thing, Carrion will essentially allow you to do exactly that. You won’t be shape-shifting into human characters — nothing’s been confirmed, at least — but you’ll be able to use your tentacles to grab poor, unsuspecting scientists and spit your gross webbing at armed dudes trying to shoot you down. The demo was a great deal of fun and a small morsel of what promises to be a fun and destructive reverse horror thrill ride. Watch for it in 2020.
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