A gelatinous, tentacled red ooze seeps out of a nearby wall. Nestled in the caverns around a yet-unnamed science facility, the crawling horror seeks out humans to consume as it grows and evolves – killing all in its path.
Typically, you would expect to square off against such a horrific threat as the heroic protagonist. In the reverse-horror indie title known as Carrion, however, you are the nightmare.
The demo for this anticipated (and disturbing) jaunt landed yesterday on Steam. A moment that I’ve waited for with bated breath, as early looks at the game from PAX West captured my attention.
Thankfully – the demo does not disappoint.
The first thing that struck me was the movement. It’s amazingly unique, and unsettling in the best way possible. In a way, the uniqueness and smoothness of the movement reminded me of Insomniac’s nearly-perfect execution of swinging through New York in Spider Man. You move your various tentacles along the walls, sticking to them slithering about. Moving to an area a bit further away, your tentacles stick and drag you towards it.
Your primary “attack”, as it were, is controlling a main tentacle that has sharp pointy teeth, and drags whatever poor soul it has towards the larger, gaping maw of your main body. Consuming bodies this way heals you, and also increases your size.
You control the main tentacle with the right stick, and “bite” with the right trigger. My main gripe from the demo is that this sometimes felt a bit unwieldy. You have to “center” your snack somewhat for it to eat quickly, or if you pause it will drag the target to you. I think if this part was tightened up just a little, it would definitely help with the speed and terror element.
Now, as much fun as it would be to roll over every single human you see without challenge – reveling in the growing fear and panic as you, the unstoppable killing force without name, descend upon the helpless flesh-bags without remorse or mercy – the resistance to your rampage begins fairly early. Soldiers deploy front-facing electric shields that can repel you, others begin implementing flame throwers, and of course, bullets still don’t feel too good.
However, as your future meals evolve, so do you. The first upgrade you find is the ability to dash through wooden blockades, and the dash attack has the added bonus of shredding any enemies you come in contact with. Fun!
You also discover hovels throughout the caves surrounding the facility that serve as secondary bases for you. When you discover one and activate it, there’s an awesome little “save” sequence, as the thrumming beat of this ravenous creature fills the halls, and provides an area for future respawns.
The music and sound effects are terrific, and do a great job of creating that horror atmosphere as you quietly slither along the ceiling and grab an unsuspecting scientist from his office chair, rending him in two before eating the remains. The screams of the innocent are convincing, and music to my ears.
The visual style is more pixelated, borrowing elements of a retro look while incorporating a much more modern approach to the main…character. Still, from the mossy green caverns that surround the building to the dimly lit computer screens in research facilities, the environments and victims, er, scientists, has a surprising amount of detail.
Overall, Carrion absolutely deserves at least 30 minutes of your attention. I get the feeling that when the full game arrives, you’ll be spending a lot more time with it.
I know I will.