Carrion Review (PS4) – Not many unique takes on game genres come out anymore, so when a game like Carrion comes around, I take immediate notice. The idea of being on the other side of a monster attack sounds so cool. While clunky in certain areas, the core idea of being the monster doing the attacking never fails to feel fun and cool.
Carrion PS4 Review – A Pixelated Gory Good Time, Despite Its Hiccups
Carrion features a familiar premise: Use your wits to learn how to control your tentacle creature and escape from the facility. Early on, you get short tutorial text that tell you what the controls do, but they don’t wait for you to test them out. Carrion leaves you on your own to figure out what to do, and it feels so cool to get the bare minimum and maximize it yourself.
Carrion gets away with a lot of visceral imagery just because it presents itself in pixelation. This works to great effect much like how old films kept a lot of gore off screen: You fill in the blanks of what the game doesn’t directly detail. You grab encountered humans with R2, and you can sling them around and around like The Hulk does with Loki, splitting them apart and throwing blood everywhere. The visual limitations play well to the game’s intentions, and I am here for it.
The sounds of the game don’t quite match up to the visual presentation of Carrion, since it maintains that older-grade sound effect level throughout. It still gets the job done, of course, accentuating the visuals a little further, but it just doesn’t have that same… chunkiness, for a lack of a better word, when things on-screen get crazy. This does allow the visuals to stay front and center, but they don’t give the aesthetic that gory punch it truly needs.
Creeping Through the Base
As you navigate the map, you find other test subjects that you assimilate into your system, granting you new abilities and more health. With the increase in health comes a larger frame, directly indicating how much life you can spare. When you take damage, parts of your body fall off until you run out of body.
This makes the health bar at the top of the screen mostly redundant, but the bar still comes in handy as a concrete indicator of what abilities your creature has available. When at maximum size, you can smash through obstacles and attack enemies with charged attacks. When half size, you use an arm to reach for different objects to interact with, live levers and sentries.
To add strategy to this part of the game, Carrion allows you to deposit parts of your frame at random water pools. This allows you to switch back and forth between body sizes in order to continue exploring with your different abilities. These pools aren’t always available, so you need to strategize how you use them in order to pass some obstacles.
Size Is Everything
As you can probably guess, the mention of strategic decision-making implies that Carrion is a Metroidvania, and it is. Unfortunately, not having a map makes backtracking in the game’s labyrinthine maps a hefty challenge. There’s believability in not having a map, since you’re a creature that has to figure out how to get out. At the same time, if it has the kind of know-how to break out of containment, control humans, and manipulate computer systems, I can only imagine that it has the capacity to remember floor layouts.
Other issues stem from the size of your creature. The big one (sorry) comes from where the “center” of your creature is, the point where your abilities and actions center from. With such a big, amalgamated body, there’s no clear center, forcing you to use your abilities several times unsuccessfully while you line up your ability. This especially affects when you navigate through narrow tunnels, and you must feel your way around a bunch before your creature responds the way you want it to.
A similar issue comes with the limitations of the controller/coding for a controller when it comes to using R2 to grab levers and other interactable objects. Often, I have to be at a complete stop before I could fully control where my arm went. When I don’t stand still, I reach for a lever several times before I grab a hold of it. Once I make contact, I have no problems pulling the levers, but getting contact in high-octane situations is just frustrating.
A Fun, Flawed Romp of Destruction
Carrion creates a fun take on the Metroidvania formula by putting you in the driver’s seat of a monster fighting humans. Your creature is clunky when at full size, creating some navigational issues, and navigating is made unnecessarily difficult without a map. While the sound work lacks equal energy, the visual side of Carrion vivifies pixelated gore wonderfully, making destruction and mayhem feel oh so good. It’s not without its problems, but Carrion presents something fun and engaging despite its cumbersome nature.
Carrion is available now on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.