There are a few horror films that I consider perfect and they are what I judge all other horror films against. The Thing and Alien (and too a slightly lesser extent Aliens) are among that list and it seems the developers of Carrion, Phobia Game Studio, have been sneaking my fanfic regarding those two films. Instead of rooting for Ripley or Macready you root for yourself, a morphing blob bent on escape from an underground lab.
Carrion is a short Metroidvania style reverse horror game. Your goal, evolve and escape and maybe eat a few people along the way. Along the way you find containers carrying extra bits of you. Breaking these open will help you gain mass and with greater mass comes different abilities. You will need to manage your mass, which also acts as your health, to deal with different environmental puzzles. There are three levels of mass you can have as stated each milestone of mass has different abilities. You will lose mass the more damage you take which you can regain by visiting save points or eating people, but if you need to purposely lose mass to get a skill necessary to complete a section of the environment you can dump part of your body off in strategically placed pools. The downside to having more health with more mass is you are slower and the controls get clunkier, the opposite being the smaller you are the faster you are and the easier you can control the gnashing maw. Overall I really liked how health and mass were tied together even if it did have you skulking around the map and back tracking more and more to find body parts to eat.
You as the player are left to fill in the story as you work you way through the different sectors of the underground lab switching very occasionally to the future as someone trying to piece together what happened. There is no dialogue only occasional screams and music that invokes John Carpenter himself. I felt like this led to the sense that this was some otherworldly being and you were in it’s proverbial shoes. The minimalist aesthetics and slowly ramping skills and difficulty all lead to to a very satisfying experience and the ending is simply superb. I can’t help to think that the timing of the release (July) could have been moved back because it is a perfect October game, one that I have gone back to several times since completing as the days get shorter and colder and everyone is ramping up for Halloween.
Carrion is available now on Switch, Xbox One, and PC from Devolver Digital and earns a 4 out of 5.