×

‘Carrion’ Reveals The Joy in Playing The Monster

When I ask game developer Sebastian Krośkiewicz if any particular beacons of the horror genre inspired his upcoming game “Carrion,” he responds with an unlikely example: the 1999 “Alien vs. Predator” game, in which terrified marines armed with assault rifles and faulty radars take turns getting their heads chomped off by the two titular movie monsters. “It was one of the few games I’ve ever played that gives you both sides of the experience, what you might call ‘horror’ and ‘reverse-horror,’” Krośkiewicz says. “You get to play as the marines that get eaten, and you feel their fear. But then you get to play as the alien, and you can do the eating, and that makes you feel powerful and badass.”

Carrion” wastes no time in letting you know which side of that divide it falls on: five seconds into the game, your player character bursts out of its cage to reveal itself as a crimson Gordian knot of wriggling tentacles that skitter and slide across any surface with ease. (As a person who occasionally struggles with grotesque imagery in similar games, I expected myself to find the creature difficult to gaze upon, but the game’s hi-fi pixel-art gives it enough distance that I found it more appealing than upsetting.) Two rooms later, you’re grasping panicking scientists with your appendages and slamming them into walls, cracking their heads open to slake your thirst with their brains. To put it bluntly, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s also a deeply, deeply satisfying experience.

While the “you are the monster” pitch might seem like the game’s most intriguing aspect, its mouse-and-keyboard control scheme was the real star of the thirty-minute demo. Rather than controlling the creature with the usual “WASD” control scheme, you can instead use the cursor to aim where you want to go, with the tentacles whirling in that direction with a simple left-click If you want to pick up an enemy, you point the cursor at the foe and right-click, then move the mouse around to wrench and throttle them until they stop moving. You can also hold a button on the keyboard to slink around stealthily, assuming you can stay out of sight of your armed pursuers.

Despite the game’s chaotic opening moments, the core of the game is far from a mindless power fantasy. Instead, it’s a highly unorthodox Metroid-style platformer that hides a wealth of new abilities in a maze-like setting marked by devious puzzles and dangerous foes. Despite your creature’s sharp teeth and pulsing tentacles, the human opponents in the game are far from fragile, with even the scientists taking several whacks before they go limp. This suits the manic feel of the combat, which emphasizes disabling particularly nasty enemies such as flamethrower-wielders or heavily-armored grunts as quickly as possible, often by knocking them into water or disabling them for a few seconds with a web projectile. Krośkiewicz says that durable enemies were a particularly key addition to the game, but they came fairly late in development. “In early versions, the enemies would basically just die as soon as you touched them, or with a single attack,” he says. “We learned pretty quickly that that wasn’t very fun.”

Though there are certainly advantages to your monstrous form, things aren’t always so easy. In particular, your vast chitinous mass can present problems when you try to fit through tight spaces. This means that you need to switch between various “modes” by crawling into hives that you’ve created, which also double as checkpoints. While your largest form might allow you to dash through obstacles, such as flimsy 2x4s, it also presents a much bigger target for your enemies to shoot, which makes stealth a desirable option. Since each of these forms has a unique way of overcoming obstacles that block your path, you need to master all of them in order to escape from each level and wreak vengeance on your creators.

While it’s certainly not for everyone, “Carrion” brings a legitimately nightmarish twist on the classic “Metroidvania” formula, and it’ll certainly make quite an impression on its final release sometime in 2020. Krośkiewicz puts it best: “We love horror games, but we wanted to show that it can sometimes be fun to be the creature that’s hiding in the dark. There’s something very cool and satisfying about that, and I think it comes across in the game.”

More Gaming

  • BTS World

    BTS World Mobile Game From K-Pop Group Rockets to No. 1 Spot on App Charts Worldwide

    BTS, the biggest K-pop group in the world, now has the biggest app in the world. “BTS World,” a mobile simulation game that lets fans virtually become the South Korean pop stars’ manager, quickly rose to the top of Apple’s App Store charts in multiple countries just hours after its release on Wednesday, June 26. [...]

  • Myst Computer Game

    'Myst' Film and TV Rights Sell to Village Roadshow

    “Myst,” the influential video game that helped usher in the CD-ROM era, may inspire an ambitious multi-platform film and television universe. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the co-producer and co-financier of the “Matrix” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, has acquired the rights to the first-person graphic adventure. For those born post-90s, “Myst” was wildly popular and hailed [...]

  • Joyride

    With Joyride, Everyone Can Host Their Own HQ Trivia

    When mobile game developer Kiwi first released Joyride, the app looked familiar: Similar to wildly popular HQ Trivia, Joyride offered players the ability to win quiz shows in live broadcasts. The key difference: Joyride’s app wasn’t home to just one trivia show, but multiple shows around topics like music, dating, fandom, and yes, trivia, all [...]

  • Etika-Desmond-Amofah

    Gaming YouTuber Desmond 'Etika' Amofah Found Dead, NYPD Says

    Desmond Amofah, a YouTube gaming vlogger known online as “Etika,” was found dead by New York police on Tuesday after he was reported missing last week. He was 29. Amofah posted YouTube videos and live-streams focused on Nintendo games and other titles. A body later confirmed to be Amofah’s was found in the East River on [...]

  • harry potter wizards unite

    'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' Off to Slower Start Than 'Pokemon Go'

    Niantic’s new location-based augmented reality game “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is off to a solid start — but it doesn’t seem to have quite the same momentum as “Pokemon Go” did when it launched 3 years ago. That’s according to initial estimates from app analytics specialist Sensor Tower. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” first became available [...]

  • survios at the linq

    Not Just Gambling: Las Vegas Is Becoming a Virtual Reality Hub

    Walk into the Linq on the Las Vegas strip these days, and you might not immediately realize you just stepped into a casino. Instead, you’ll stumble across a series of living-room-like lounge setups, complete with leather couches, big-screen TVs, Xbox Ones and Oculus Go VR headsets. There’s also a bar with a massive wrap-around touch [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Netflix Engineers Developed a Rumble Pack Feature During Latest Hack Day

    A duo of Netflix employees had a unique idea for making the service’s shows even more stirring: They added a rumble pack option to the Netflix app as part of the company’s latest hack day. When watching shows like “Voltron,” the feature makes phones vibrate in sync with the action on the screen, similar to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content