- Developer: Phobia Game Studio
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Price: $19.99 / £17.99
- Release Date: 23/07/2020
- Review code provided by Devolver Digital
Introducing: Carrion Switch Review
Even with the lack of first party games being released this year, the eshop can still feel a little overcrowded, meaning certain gems can slip under the radar. Phobia Game Studio’s debut title Carrion published by Devolver Digital breaks the barriers of conventional gaming and doing so have created an instant classic. The 2D Metroidvania style “Reverse Horror” lets you take control of an amorphous blob of flesh and teeth as you tear through corridors and rooms of a military base destroying everything in your path.
Without a back story you are thrown into the game with no explanation as to why you are breaking out of a cryo-tank surrounded by screaming scientists wearing hazmat suits, but hey who needs a convoluted opening cutscene when you can quickly jump in and start having fun mauling innocent human beings and flinging items.
Doing My Thang As The Thing
Behind this gory, action packed 2D side scroller is a solid and rewarding puzzle game. Learn new abilities as you explore and use them to access new areas to unravel mysteries the world of Carrion has to offer. As you progress through the game, it pays to think outside the box and to not be scared to lose a bit of life every now and then. It may actually help you solve a puzzle or two. As you try to quench your never ending thirst for meat, the parasitic corpuscle will start to grow taking new forms and earning more health.
There are 3 stages of growth each containing 5 health bars. Each evolution has different attributes such as shooting harpoon like tentacles to destroy objects when bossing around in stage 3 to launching silky webbing to pull switches, which can be used in stage 1. You can leave biomass in pools located around the vast open world to shrink down to solve a specific puzzle then consume the mass to grow again. It doesn’t always pay to be a juggernaut due to slow movement and difficulty in staying stealthy.
Carrion has an open world feel to it giving you that sense of freedom to explore the environment but also in the same breath there are elements of linear gameplay forcing you to follow a specific path due to requiring certain abilities to progress through the story. Each level requires you to unlock a door to gain access to the main overworld named Frontier. To open the door you need to locate the hives hidden around the level. Once found, this will unseal a segment of the doorway. Each hive also acts a save point. There are also hidden containment units to find which can be done once the main game is finished. With the lack of a map, finding them can feel like a fluke most of the time with a sense of constantly feeling lost.
Man Is The Warmest Place To Hide
To earn skills you have to locate DNA pods. They don’t feel too hard to find as you tend to stumble on them before that skill is needed to progress through the game but each one has a cool little animation showing you absorbing the contents of the pod. My personal favourite has to be Parasitism, giving you the ability to take control of humans which can be fun especially running around with a flamethrower or bossing it around in a mech shooting a gatling gun.
The enemies in Carrion range from foot soldiers with assault rifles to drones and turrets, each requiring certain skills to overcome. When running away from soldiers, it pays to be small and nimble so you can duck and dive into crevices but if you want to stand up against a mech make sure you are tanked up.
Visually Carrion looks great, with the intricate movements of the amorphous blob as you scatter around the environment to the well polished sprites and you can’t have a reverse horror without a few splatters of blood. The level design is reminiscent of an era that paved the way for the popular genre and you can tell from the moment you jump in, the love and devotion that has gone into making this game. It is the perfect homage to games from yesteryear. It’s proof that pixelated artwork, if done right can still look amazing and feel relevant all these years later.
The controls are solid and quick to pick up but it can feel a bit fiddly in places especially when you are trying to control your tentacles and move around the room. It can have a mind of its own but it doesn’t happen enough to ruin the experience.
Terror Has No Shape
If you are playing Carrion at a leisurely pace and taking in all what the game has to offer, in which I would highly recommend you do so. There is around 10 hours of gameplay for the main story line and if you want to carry on after to collect all the containment units, a further 5 hours of gruesome, blood curdling fun is to be had.
The puzzles can get a little monotonous as they seem to repeat themselves throughout the game, especially pushing switches and levers but the gameplay will keep you entertained long after the credits have rolled. Talking about credits rolling, there are a few extras available once you have completed the main campaign which was a nice surprise. I won’t ruin it for you though, you can find out for yourself. The soundtrack has that 80’s synth sound to it that fits the gameplay and art style which captures the atmosphere flawlessly. The Sound effects are also the icing on the cake, the whipping sound of your tentacles and the ripping sound of your flesh as you move around to the screams from the humans as you devour them gives you that immersive feel.
Carrion has easily become my game of the year so far and the way things are looking in 2020 it could take the crown. I know the game has been described as a reverse horror with you being the bad guy, but I have to disagree. As you progress through the game it is evident you are just mis-understood with the real enemy being us, Human Beings. But that’s just me, let me know your thoughts! Everything that has gone into Carrion has been perfectly designed to make it a solid experience. From the art style to the Sound-FX and gameplay, Carrion is a unique title that everyone over the age of 18 should play through at least once.
- Kick-ass soundtrack
- Unique gameplay
- Pixelated visuals are impressive
- No map cause it to be difficult to know where you are
- Controls can be fiddly in places
- Puzzles can feel repetitive
Carrion is devilishly addictive, perfectly balancing action metroidvania style gameplay with puzzle solving. Destroying objects and disembowelling innocent humans never gets old.