Carrion was on my list way before it was set upon society. A Carpenter-like Thing, munching on flesh to become this uber being that evolves at such an alarming rate that it defines the term growth spurt.
While this sat on my wishlist for longer than the to-do list’s ‘fix the leak in the en-suite’ entry, seeing that it is currently available on Game Pass forced my hand to give it a go during the holidays. I mean, why not?
Your character in this action/horror/stealth bastard is an undefined organism that escapes its prison and slaughters all the scientists and military personnel that put it there. Well, it doesn’t have to, but as you’re at the helm and they don’t pose much threat, it’s easier to destroy than to create, right?
This monster starts as a ball of strawberry laces that rolls about, giving a phantom finger to gravity, saying, “You won’t hold me down”. It doesn’t jerk across the screen, instead, it’s bloody graceful. Note the bloody bit. Carrie, the name I have branded blobby, can ponce about the screen like a grotesque swan. It’s evident you aren’t getting anywhere based on your current mass and abilities, so, you absorb the inhabitants with teeth that spawn from every orifice, thus expanding your horizons.
Carrion is like those classic black and white sci-fi stories like The Blob. It’s a festering mess that pulls bodies in where the teeth have formed, crunching down on the bones like they were made of polystyrene. Said bodies are full of nutrients, restoring health, but also a way to gain some mass without necking any powder. Whey!
Said meat bags are a doddle and pose practically no threat, other than the ones operating mecha. Even when they’re armed with flamethrowers, picking them off is with relative ease. That’s not a negative thing as it makes the experience fun to sniff them out, sneaking through crawlspaces, shaking them about, then gobbling ’em up. The real challenges were the labyrinths without any maps. It’s not that you’ll get lost so much, but Carrion has that 90s FPS feel about it of backtracking to pull on levels and make sure you’ve cleared an area.
What fun is a bloody blob (other than munching on people) if it doesn’t have any powers? Exactly. Carrie can go invisible, rip apart structures, roar to either scare or lure enemies – but the best one: manipulate folk and get them to flip switches on your behalf or gun down any threats without having to lift a tentacle. Well, other than the one you’ve probed into their bumhole. I mean entry point/exit wound.
The ‘problem’ with Carrion is that it’s all very samey. Yes, the abilities are pretty cool as you unlock them, and the feeling that you’re playing the game in God mode works in its favour. Carrie isn’t invincible, and there will be the odd death here and there, but generally speaking, this is like putting in a cheat code and storming through each level as the bad guy. Honestly, the God-like experience doesn’t spoil it and is a highlight.
Other than improved enemy units and oh-so-slightly changes of scenery, it’s a rinse and repeat of locating save points to plant your mass for safekeeping, gradually unlocking segments of an entrance to a new area, then do the same again. Now and again, there are some intermissions where you control humans. It’s a bit like Flashback, only without the action. And fun. I didn’t enjoy these bits so much, but they serve a purpose to the underused story.
While Phobia Game Studio’s Carrion has been on my list for some time, there was never any real urgency to snap it up. Having now played it, it was most definitely worth the play (the soundtrack is terrific, too), but it’s not a game that’s changed my opinion of humanity. Or blobs. If you have Game Pass, 100% give it a go. There’s an Amiga charm to it (always a good thing), plus it’s refreshing to play the alleged bad guy in a character that’s OP’d from the start but without ruining the mechanics.
Another blob worth playing? Teenage Blob – one of the highlights of 2020.