Videogames have a tendency to define good and evil. It’s often the case that the player is cast as the hero; unquestionable in his or her morality. However, there’s often two sides to a story.
Trapped for eternities underground, one day your imprisonment is invaded. However, rather than freeing you, you are now captive to some greater evil. Scientists take you to their secret laboratory and conduct seemingly endless experiments on you. They have no concern for your safety or physical condition; they only want to discover your secrets. Your only hope is to break free and escape.
That doesn’t sound like your being evil now, does it?
Well, in fact, you are. You are literally the most evil being on the planet. Your quest for escape sees you literally maiming and consuming hundreds of people – some seemingly innocent bystanders. That’s the crux of Carrion. You’re the bad guy; but at least you have clear motivation for why you’re being bad.
A 2D puzzle adventure, Carrion plays out like a Metroidvania-lite. The player is given a series of increasing large 2D maps to explore as they grow in size and gain new abilities to open access to new areas. The whole map isn’t open at once however; there’s a semi-strict level construct in Carrion. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The player will find a series of linked map segment they can traverse between at any one moment. Once that series is complete, they move onto the next punctuated by flashbacks to their own origin. These flashbacks see the player controlling a human in a very peculiar and awkward manner – perhaps intentionally so – given the ease of controlling their own hellbeast.
Though any gameplay videos you may have seen could suggest a confusing control system, Carrion plays much like any 2D platformer you may have previously played. Except there’s no jumping. The beast elegantly glides from surface to surface as the player moves the left analogue stick, automatically (and rather stylishly) shooting tendrils to attach itself to any surface in the direction of travel. It’s simple and effective.
The abilities the player will learn as they continue on their journey build on this premise. There’s no raining hellfire or demand for elaborate button combinations. Other than growing your beast in size the abilities mainly revolve around the ability to solve slightly more complex wayfaring puzzles.
Carrion is an enjoyable experience which relies almost solely on pathfinding and occasional surprise combat elements for it’s duration. Because of this, a skilled player familiar with the tropes of the genre will likely find that the experience is brief. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less valid than the likes of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. In fact, it’s arguably more innovative given that it relies far less heavily on the genre’s fondness of power-ups and more on the player’s own initiative.