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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Release Date: July 23, 2020


XOne/PC Preview - 'Carrion'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 26, 2019 @ 9:00 a.m. PST

Carrion is a reverse horror game in which you assume the role of an amorphous creature of unknown origin.

Horror games are a dime a dozen. That isn't a bad thing, but there are only so many times you can be scared by a monster in the dark before you want a chance to turn the tables. Carrion seeks to turn that around. Rather than being scared by the monster in the dark, you are the monster in the dark and must devour swarms of hapless humans in your quest to — well, devour humans. Funny how that works out.

The basic premise of Carrion is that you're a horrifying mutant comprised of the absorbed goo and mass of … a lot of things. You're sticky, you have deadly tentacles, you're incredibly quick, and you survive almost entirely by eating the flesh of other living beings. From the demo, your goal seems to be to gradually explore and escape the lab you're confined in, seeking ways to grow more powerful and devour more enemies.

Movement in Carrion is nice and easy. It's actually kind of a point-and-click game. Hold the LMB, and your creature crawls toward the location you're pointing at, squeezing through holes as needed. The RMB is sort of a catch-all button. You can use it to spear enemies with a razor-sharp tentacle and drag them closer, pull things off the wall, and devour precious flesh from your unlucky victims. You also can use the middle mouse button to do things like attack enemies directly with one of your tentacles, which is a good way to lock down armed foes.

The powers you start with are not the only powers you'll get. Based on the pre-alpha build, Carrion has Metroidvania elements, such as finding upgrades that increase your mobility. The demo included the Dash ability, which allows you to charge forward if you have sufficient Biomass. The Dash serves as both an attack and a way to break certain objects in the environment, thus allowing you to access areas you couldn't before.

In the pre-alpha build, you are not very durable. Despite being a giant mutant pile of biomass, you can't facetank enemies and expect to get away with it. You're the kind of monster who hides in vents and drag your victims to their doom. This means that even enemies armed with pistols can be a threat, since each shot takes off a chunk of your relatively small health bar. Since Biomass can only be refilled by consuming human beings, you need to be careful. You can absolutely charge at enemies and get by with one or two shots since you can refill it by devouring the poor fool who shot at you. If an enemy is armed with something more dangerous, though, it can be a huge risk.

The demo build had two major threats. One was humans armed with a flamethrower. It turns out that sentient crawling masses of flesh and goo are extremely flammable. Not only does fire hurt like the dickens, but it soon burns you to ash unless you find a source of water to put yourself out. There are also drones, which are extremely nasty and don't even have precious goo to eat, making them much better to avoid instead of fight.

All in all, the demo of Carrion only gave us a small taste of what the full game is offering, but it's a really interesting concept. Actually getting to play as the creepy monster that lurks in the dark is an enjoyable change after the tremendous number of games where you play the opposite. It's hard to say how fresh the concept will feel after a few hours of gameplay, but what we've seen so far has a ton of potential. Carrion will be coming to the PC and Xbox One sometime in 2020.

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