E3 2019 Hands-On – Carrion
I think it goes without saying, ah hell, I’m going to say it anyway because I love them. Devolver Digital has mastered their image and proven that they have a keen eye for fantastic indies. They have been hitting it out of the park lately with the recently released My Friend Pedro, Ape Out, Observation, and our very own Leo Faria named them his favorite publisher of 2018. Their future also looks bright as we got to play two more of their upcoming games at E3 2019. I was lucky enough to get invited to Devolver’s trailer park bash and try out one of their newest games, Carrion.
Carrion is a reverse horror game in which you assume the role of an amorphous creature of unknown origins, stalking and consuming those that imprisoned you. In most games you’re thrown into the role of the hero who has to rid the alien breakout and save the world. In Carrion you ARE the alien breakout and get to wreak havoc on all the annoying scientists. You’ll need to spread your infection, growing your nest to slowly take over the facility, rescuing other parts of your body to enhance your size and unlock additional powers and abilities to get past the pesky humans.
I got to sit down with Krzysztof Chimicki, the lead level and game designer from Phobia Game Studio, who was nice enough to show me the studio’s newest game and let me get my hands on it. My first thought when I saw the trailer was: “how are the controls moving the monster around with the tentacles?” As soon as I started playing it my worries went away. The controls are very intuitive and the gameplay is simple enough to get familiar fairly quickly.
While as of now Carrion is only on PC, I was handed a Xbox controller to play and it made sense when I started playing. Using the the left stick moves the monster and it will automatically whip its tentacles in the direction you’re pressing. RT sends out a tentacle to grab enemies and various other other objects, and while you hold RT to grab you can use the right stick to move the object or enemy around. RB is how you use your abilities, LT is to sneak, and LB for this demo was dedicated to the cloaking ability.
When you first escape your captures, you start off fairly small and you need to create nests and rescue more of your body from other test tubes to grow and unlock more skills. This is where Carrion is a bit more unique than other types of Metroidvania games. Creating nest points helps you grow and unlock sections of the map to help you proceed, and they also act as checkpoints and fast travel. The larger you get the more powerful you become and the more brute force abilities you acquire, but growing larger isn’t always what you want. As you grow you unlock abilities, but you also lose the previous abilities you once had. This requires you to bank a portion of your body into storage sacks that way you can solve a puzzle or unlock your next path. The smaller you get the less life you have, but you’ll be quicker and stealthier. Krzysztof said that, from the starting size, you will grow an additional 60%. I grew pretty big in this demo and I wasn’t even at full mass yet.
Just like becoming small, there will be a benefit to being large as well. Not only to use your size to dash and bust through walls and objects, but it may help you in combat situations. In the demo I came across the helpless unarmed scientists, the standard guard, elite guard, sentries, and flamethrower guards. The flamethrower guards are brutal since the only way to extinguish the flame is to find a water source, but there are clever ways you can take them out quickly if you’re sneaky. Krzysztof did inform me that later on in the game, more enemies will appear and you’ll even run into mechs that will require you to rip individual limbs off before being able to get to the operator. That situation might require a more healthy sized monster blob.
Carrion seems like it’s shaping up to be a fantastic twist of the genre and any game that lets me be the bad guy has me intrigued. Besides the blood lust thrill of ripping spines out of pesky four eyed scientists, there is satisfying puzzle and level design here. You want to see my demo in action? Check out our gameplay above. You want to follow Carrion to make sure you get all the updated news? Check out their social links here: