Review: Carrion | digital escapement

John Carpenter’s The Thing, the 1980s horror classic about Antarctic researchers trapped in a base with a monster trying to assimilate, imitate and murder them, revels in paranoia. The characters in the film do not know who among them the titular Thing might be or where it disappears when it escapes, so the conflict with the creature becomes an internal conflict.

Entertainment exploited this idea so much that while experiencing the prospect of a vicious monster acting on instinct in Carrion’s first moments, I found a sense of calm in the simple and relatable motivations of simply wanting to consume and escape. .

There is no far-fetched origin story, no scientist relating the depth of the real danger the seemingly underground lab currently finds itself in. People run, the monster eats those people, the monster really doesn’t like being shot at, so it should probably eat people first. they shoot This is Carrion’s tutorial sequence, which presents the player with smooth controls that allow them to traverse a dank underground lab by placing tentacles on every surface without interference or hassle. The monster moves in the direction indicated, evoking a feeling of flight as it glides across the room and over high ceilings.

It is with the same enthusiasm that Carrión pursues all his systems. The game is a Metroidvania in concept, but the espresso version of it, without offering much real exploration. You move the monster around the base, just looking to get out, enlarging it by absorbing biomass (eating people), then distributing that biomass into holes in the wall to spread around the lab . It opens crucial new avenues and doors of progression that lead to new realms, and it’s also surprisingly crude.

Not knowing exactly where to go next to progress is very rare, although the times I got lost were made worse by not having any type of map. The labyrinthine maze of one-way drain pipes makes these instances more boring than they should be, and for a game that relies heavily on backtracking, its five-hour runtime feels short.