Carrion (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 14.08.2020 3

Review for Carrion on Nintendo Switch

Gaming has proven time and time again that there can be something sadistically cathartic about a power fantasy that allows you to wreak havoc on your fellow (pixelated) human - titles like Prototype and the Hungry Shark series immediately spring to mind. Carrion adopts a dark and brooding tone towards chaos that errs more towards the former title, despite being a 2D platformer rather than a third-person action game. That being said, Devolver Digital has proven its keen eye for finding innovative indie gems and Carrion slots perfectly into their portfolio in this regard.

Carrion adopts a simple but refreshing formula: you play as "the monster" in a horror game. This monster takes the form of an amorphous, tentacled blob that grows in size as it consumes its way through the subterranean lab from which it has escaped its shackles. You rack up biomass from consuming your feeble human captors, who offer up sickening shrieks and yelps as their bodies are yanked in by the excellent tentacle animations. Biomass essentially comprises three levels, each with unique powers available to them. This shrinks when you take damage or deposit it in gooey puddles, and is regained at checkpoints or when re-consumed from said deposits.

This approach to levelling is interesting, especially when it comes to solving puzzles. If your biomass is at level 3, for example, but you need a certain power only available at level 2 to progress, you must shrink down to be able to do so. Each level comes with an offensive power (such as shooting a glob of web at a target) and a defensive power (such as a brief spell invisibility at level 2). While these abilities aren't exclusive to platforming challenges and do come in handy in combat, it's an oddly comedic thought to imagine the antagonist in a horror film solving puzzles with its powers in its pursuit of destruction, and this sadly hinders the experience by providing breaks in the mayhem that fall out of sync with the subject matter.

Still, the controls are delightfully slick. Moving the blobby creature around is ultra-smooth, an experience further enhanced by some superb animation. Tendrils snake away from the creature's body, latching onto the nearest surface as you navigate freely around the claustrophobic levels. When Carrion is at its best, it smacks of Dead Space as you use vents to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies only to yank them mercilessly towards one of your many maws.

Screenshot for Carrion on Nintendo Switch

The levels themselves are also beautifully drawn, even when the occasional frustrating layout crops up. The creature interacts with the environment in neat ways: grabbing and chucking various assets with its tentacles has some satisfying effects, such as opening new pathways or cutting out the lights. Hanging chains clank and rattle as you pass by them, contributing to some truly excellent sound design that remains super crisp throughout the entirety of the experience, from the splash of a puddle to the primal scream of a dying victim. This is nothing less than what can be expected from a Devolver product.

While visually stunning, Carrion can be practically frustrating. There is a distinct lack of navigational handholding. This is not typically a bad thing, but Carrion takes it a step too far. Wandering the sprawling levels with no clear objectives or defined path forward quickly saps the experience of its charm, particularly as many of the levels are labyrinthine in nature. Combat, too, is unmasked as a flat experience once the glee of the tentacle-based warfare wears off. Encounters with enemies are either too easy or too difficult - one moment you'll be laying waste to a herd of scientists, the next uncharacteristically tripped up by a couple of shield-bearing soldiers.

The balance here is totally wonky and outs itself as such long before even the meagre five-hour campaign has run its course. If there's a sequel (which would be cool to see), it'd be nice if it had less stumbling through the dark searching for a way forward and more skill-based gameplay with better navigational mechanics. When Carrion does shine, though, it is a pleasure to behold, no matter how short that pleasure may last.

Screenshot for Carrion on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Carrion embraces its identity as a "reverse-horror" experience, offering some viscerally violent action that is not for the faint of heart. Presentation here is top-notch: this is a polished title that Phobia Game Studio has taken a lot of care in crafting. Sadly, it stumbles in its core gameplay. The combat is poorly balanced and navigation can be a frustrating chore, but when Carrion does transcend these trappings, it does so with a sadistic glee that makes it unmistakable amongst its peers.

Developer

Phobia Game Studio

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Looks like great fun, but a shame about the wandering around and fluctuating difficulty. Maybe it was done like that to falsely pad out the experience.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

jesusraz said:
Looks like great fun, but a shame about the wandering around and fluctuating difficulty. Maybe it was done like that to falsely pad out the experience.
 

A good point - play time can deceptively rack up as you look for where to go next. It does sap it of some flow but doesn't entirely diminish the novelty of the experience. Still worth checking out if you're a fan of Devolver's games, or vintage horror!

Yeah, it's definitely on my list... just after Paper Mario dragging on, I might hit something a bit more refreshing first. The eShop seems to be inundated with so many new games that it's hard to keep up with what to get! There must be many off the radar classics that sadly get overlooked. Next biggest for me is Moon, finally Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, hinchjoie, mikem52, RudyC3, Sasari

There are 5 members online at the moment.