Game Recs

You need to play this Lovecraftian platformer before it leaves Xbox Game Pass

Carrion brings all the blood, teeth, and tentacles you can handle.

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Devolver Digital

We love a good monster story. There's something primal in bearing witness to a horrific abomination terrorizing a crew of innocent characters, picking them off one by one until a heroic last stand gives us the happy ending (or cliffhanger “is it really dead?” tease). Watching a monster movie is fun, but what about being the monster? Is there a game that lets us experience the thrill of a murderous rampage?

Carrion from Phobia Game Studio and Devolver Digital is such a game. Metroidvania-style action fuels your gameplay as you take control of a writhing mass of teeth, gore and tentacles let loose inside a research facility. If you’ve ever wanted to dismember some scientists or decimate a squad of soldiers, then you’ve found your game.

It all starts with the monster. Part The Blob and part The Thing you’re an undulating mass of oozy red flesh and sticky tentacles. In short, you’re perfectly designed to squeeze through the labyrinthine tunnels of the research lab that dared to bring you into this world. And now you make them pay! Controls are simple and intuitive, use the right stick to move and shoot tentacles and the right trigger to grip stuff like doors and victims. Your goal is to escape the facility despite coordinated efforts from the staff to kill you.

The movement and mayhem of the monster are what make Carrion successful. It succeeds in delivering the power fantasy of being a nigh-unstoppable creature that kills everything in sight. The more biomass you consume the bigger and stronger you become. It’s a simple A-to-B concept that is rewarding and delightfully macabre. But make no mistake, brute force alone will not carry you through to the end.

In space, no one can hear you scream (but you’re not in space so enjoy those screams.)

Devolver Digital

In addition to the super-fun violence, Carrion is a puzzle game at heart. You have to gain different abilities and often shapeshift into different forms to get through certain areas. There’s no map or objective points either, adding a layer of challenge that would otherwise make the game too easy. This may be a detriment depending on your temperament. It is easy to get turned around and lose your sense of direction, and most of the criticism of the game is centered on the troubles players had navigating the map.

There is some backtracking involved, mostly caused by gaining new powers which open up previously unavailable areas. The contrast between going on bloody tear-through corridors full of screaming people and then sitting silently unsure of where to go next can be stark. Fortunately, Carrion is a game that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The real monster is the backtracking we made along the way.

Devolver Digital

Clocking in at somewhere between 3-6 hours, Carrion is just enough game to satisfy the curious question at its core (what if you were a monster?) without grinding itself into oblivion. You’ll likely want to do a second playthrough once you get through it once. After all, what fun is it being a monster that is lost and befuddled? Either way, it’s not much commitment for a whole lot of fun. And since it's only on Game Pass until July 15, you have just enough time to unleash the beast before time runs out.

Carrion is available on Xbox Game Pass until July 15. It’s also available on PC, Switch and PlayStation.

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