Review

Carrion review – All tentacles and repetition

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Deep in an underground lab, tests are underway on an amorphous alien who, depending on how it’s positioned, appear to be either all tentacles or teeth. This creature doesn’t want to be contained and would love nothing more than to kill all the scientists who stung and pushed it. Seconds into the start, the alien’s tentacles tear humans apart, its teeth bite into their flesh, and the once barren and immaculate facility is dripping with blood. This first burst of chaos is dark and uplifting, but nothing that comes after that dominates the first impression. The thrill of being a monstrous menace wears off quickly, as your progress is mostly tied to discovering how to remove the seals from locked doors. Despite the role of an unidentifiable creature, Carrion is surprisingly unremarkable until his final act, where the climax of ideas really shines. The alien’s mobility is the highlight, with its many tentacles that can cling to any surface. Its shape can also transform, so the oozing monstrosity quickly moves through any space, whether it’s a large cavern or a narrow vent. The player does not need to press a jump button to navigate the alien through multi-level spaces; it flows where you want it to go using the left analog stick, a fantastic solution to controlling something so strange. Watching the alien’s shape change and contort as it changes direction is fascinating and beautifully illustrated by the artists of Phobia Game Studio. The lab has numerous security systems in place to contain the beast, as well as a variety of armed guards. A quick tentacle strike can grab one of these soldiers, and rotating the right analog stick moves the appendix, allowing you to create throwing or smashing motions that get results. In one case, you might want to throw a metal container at a heavily armored guard to offset it. In another, you might just want to smash an enemy multiple times against the ground to end their life. While it can be somewhat difficult to figure out the angle the tentacle fires off, these actions are perfectly designed and reinforce the fantasy of being that particular threat. The alien grows larger over time and can eventually become powerful enough to shatter wooden beams, squeeze through underwater grids, and pass their spirits to humans – you even use human weapons against theirs for fun. These abilities are put to good use in solving light environmental puzzles. No puzzle is too complex, and most can be completed in seconds, usually rewarding the player with a new path to travel. Some puzzles require different sizes of aliens, which may cause you to feed yourself more or have to unload mass into a pool of water. While I like the way the alien form is used for these puzzles, they all lead to the seals being removed from the doors, which is a monotonous process for most of the experience. The facility is divided into small areas that you need to complete to move on. You can’t really get lost given the small size of each area – which is obviously a good thing – but your goal in almost every area is still the same: Focus on those seals. To remove a seal, the alien must reach a nesting point in a specific section of the map. When the required number of places is secured, the seals disappear and the next area becomes available. Your mind is always glued to the doors, and all the carnage you create is in service of this mundane goal. Most of the combat is optional, so if a deadly flamethrower unit lights up the screen, you’d better get away. When you are forced to fight, the enemy can have a lot of firepower and you may have to tear off a mech’s armor to reveal the pilot or hide the alien mace behind something to put you in. sheltered. The fight can be exciting and often shows how great Carrion’s ideas could be. However, it plays too small a role in the experience and doesn’t feel fully realized until that last act where chaos reigns. With no actual story to follow or information on what the alien is or even what building he’s trapped in, Carrion lives and dies from what’s happening in the moment. The emphasis on opening up new areas using the same ideas quickly becomes obsolete and robs a fascinating premise of its true potential. I enjoyed playing like a rabid drop, but I didn’t find much pleasure in escaping the installation.

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