What’s that Westworld quote? These violent delights have violent ends. No quote is more fitting for Devolver Digital and Phobia Games Studio’s Carrion. Of course, I’m showing my cultural naivety. Yes, I’m well aware the violent ends quote comes from Romeo and Juliet, I studied it at school, don’t you know.
School was also around the time that I started getting interested in video games, and one after another voraciously consumed every last one I could get my slimy tentacles on. That was, until I found there were more, just beyond reach, or just beyond the age certification sticker. Every kid has experienced this, coming up against the immovable wall of parents. For me, it was Soldier of Fortune in 2000 and I was 14. If you remember back that far, the game was hyper-violent for its time; you could blow the limbs off enemies and that was reason enough that I just had to experience it.
Carrion is like that. Carrion is going to be the type of game a rebellious 14-year-old is going to learn the ways of deceit to play. It’s the kind of game they will lie to their parents for, learn how to cheat the age verifications on Steam for. This is the type of game where kids sneak out to play it at their friend’s house because their friend’s mum doesn’t care about, or doesn’t understand video game restrictions. This is the kind of game a good Christian household would ban, and kids would rather risk hell than not play.
It’s set up as a reverse horror; you assume the role of an amorphous creature of unknown origins, and you must escape from the scientists and soldiers who imprisoned you. You might be an alien, you might be a biological experiment gone terribly wrong, the demo doesn’t have the answers.
You are the monster, and you are nothing but tentacles and teeth, sliding and climbing and smashing your way through 2D Metroidvania style level design. It’s incredibly violent and destructive, which is why kids of a certain mindset are going to do anything to play it.
The carrion beast is a joy to control. You squish and slide into the tightest spots, totally malleable. It’s got a wonderfully fluid and somehow instinctual control system, instinctual feeling like a strange word as I’ve never been a tentacled monster slime before, but still. You have both climbing tentacles and grabbing tentacles, for ripping doors off their hinges and people limb from limb, and you have a mouth that can appear anywhere on your body and chow down. You leave a trail of blood and sinew in your wake.
The best analogy I’ve got is it’s like being Venom, or better yet, Carnage from Spiderman in pure alien tentacle mode. Flinging bodies left and right, ripping them apart, chowing down on the broken remains. You get bigger the more you eat, so somehow within a minute or so Carrion had me eating scientists for breakfast, and not just that, making sure I had chomped down on every last bit of every last scientist. Gotta get big, you know. That’s Monster 101.
It’s hard to feel sorry for the people, they are like Umbrella scientists, they made the Carrion virus, or they imprisoned this Alien. This is what they deserve.
But these violent delights have violent ends, right? Well, it’s true. You are in no way all-powerful, which feels like where a game like this could have got dull fast. You are very vulnerable. Just a few seconds under the searchlight of a gun turret and you’ll be blasted down from a five or six eye behemoth, to a ‘cute’ little one-eye. The amount of eyes seems to be the number of shots you can take before its game over. There’s some order of stealth to proceedings, as you must avoid men with flamethrowers because they will roast your entire body in seconds. You have to throw yourself into nearby water to douse that flame as soon as possible.
I hope in the full game you get more objectives, more backstory. I want to know what kind of monster I am, why I was there, and what injustices were performed. Because that liberates me from having to worry about the pure unadulterated, unstoppable violence of the thing. I want to use all those powers I can see in the trailer; flame-shielding, spikes, web-shooting, and that last glorious exploding human.
For all you 14-year-olds out there, Carrion is not for you. It’s a fantastic grisly, dynamic experience, just for us adults. It’s out on Steam, PS4 and XBX1 later in 2020, and no I won’t buy it for you just because I’m over 18 now. Show some initiative. Finding a secret way to play it is a right of passage.
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