Have you ever wanted to play as the monster lurking under someone’s bed? Well then Carrion has you covered. It is a reverse horror game where you play as a mess of tentacles, flesh, and mouths that slithers around levels consuming unsuspecting victims. The concept is simple, but Carrion manages to deliver on it well leading to an enjoyable and interesting experience.
Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: Jul 23rd 2020
Available on: Switch, PC, Xbox One, Gamepass
The premise of a reverse horror experience is Carrion’s one unique selling point and manages to stand on its own for the duration of the game. There is something intensely satisfying about skulking through the shadows only to drag someone to their doom. You really have to get in the head-space of being a sneaky monster as you terrorize and destroy everything in your path.
In addition, Carrion makes a handful of small decisions in service of getting players into the mental space of the monster. The game begins with a cold open and gives players no indication of where you’re meant to go, nor what their goal is. Instincts becomes your guide with killing being something you’ll do out of necessity as every NPC is hell bent on killing you. This may feel very video gamey, but I found it helped to put me in the mind-set of the monster. I was roaming around trying to survive rather than acting as some cold calculated villain.
As players explore their surroundings they’ll evolve and unlock new abilities that will help them progress further. As the monster evolves so too does the player’s understanding of their circumstances: presently you’re trapped being held captive in a laboratory. Obviously, no one wants to be trapped so your goal shifts from survive to escape. Using your new suite of abilities, players can act in a more calculated manner and thus both the player and the monster are now acting with intention, meticulously killing off everything that stands between them and their goal.
One of my favourite instances of this happened live on stream while I was playing the game. I’d recently unlocked the mind control power and used it to take control of the most heavily armed guard in the area. I then proceeded to use him to kill everyone in the area before killing him myself.
While it doesn’t necessarily add to the gameplay, Carrion somewhat deceives the player into becoming a willing participant in villainy. By aligning the player and monster’s goals while also providing tools that make you an increasingly active participant in said goals, Carrion turns you into the savage monster on screen.
I think that you could just as easily play through the whole of Carrion without ever really bonding with the monster on screen. However, I really enjoyed how Carrion unwittingly made me an active participant in the savage carnage that was expected throughout the game. This aspect, along with the unique role reversal angle, make Carrion a very interesting title that you should play.