I’ve long been a lover of horror. Be it creeping dread, sinister forces, gushing blood or massive monsters, I’m there every time. Despite this love, I still struggle to get into horror games. Putting the feelings of dread into my own hands seems to be one step too far for me. Something games haven’t really done much of though, is making me the monster. Making me the unmentionable horror that stalks its prey in a bloody quest. That’s all changed with Carrion, a fantastically horrific 2D metroidvania on Nintendo Switch.
Billed as a ‘reverse-horror’ game, Carrion has you take control of an unnamed amorphous blob of tentacles and teeth. There’s no dialogue, no written story and no real characters, just your monstrous self and the victims of your reign of terror. In some games this would be an issue, but here it fits incredibly well with the setting. You don’t need a reason and you don’t need context. You just need a thirst for blood and mayhem, and that’s something Carrion has in spades. Not once did I feel the need to question why, instead I transformed into the monster it wanted me to be and slaughtered everyone and everything I came across. I became immersed in a way I certainly didn’t expect going in.
Your time in Carrion is spent being your horrific self: finding humans to tear apart and eat, inciting terror at the mere sight of you and collecting new abilities and transformations with absolutely no idea why you’re doing it. As you explore and complete the game’s areas you’ll find containment jars to break open, each one unlocking a new ability or transformation to use in the world and combat. These range from covering yourself in spikes, mutilating anything that touches you, to harpoons you shoot at enemies and obstacles, destroying everything in your path. They all feel unique, have their own special uses that are put to good use throughout the game’s many areas, and most importantly are fun to use. I never tired of working out the best way to enter a room and encounter, shifting my size up and down (which also changes the abilities you can use) to best suit the impending disaster at hand.
Each ability and transformation builds on your monstrosity, with more tentacles, spikes, gnashing teeth, creepy eyes and weird bulbous bits coming along the way. The further you get, the more horrific you look, and it feels absolutely perfect set to the backdrop of what seems to be underground scientific facilities. The people you find change as you progress as well, moving from helpless scientists to lightly armed ones, to flamethrower wielding HVAC looking people, all the way through to mechanical enemies hell bent on your destruction. The progression perfectly ties into your own monstrous escalation, as your victims try to keep up with your own destructive tendencies and therefore introduce new gameplay and strategic elements to how the areas play out.
Throughout all of this, Carrion has a sense of style that perfectly encapsulates H-O-R-R-O-R. Your own undulating body, with its surprisingly fast skittering and fluidity of movement is incredibly off-putting and also incredibly engaging. The more hapless enemies in the game shriek at the sight of you, turning to run, while the braver enemies with quickly and aggressively attack you in an effort to overwhelm you before they die. Bodies get torn apart and flung across the room, blood quickly spreading everywhere. Quickly bursting through grates, slamming them into your victims and tearing them asunder, before slowly pulling the pieces of their bodies back into your gaping maw is the sort of experience you can expect from Carrion on Switch. All while the sinister and minimal soundtrack plays behind you. So exactly the sort of horror you want.
Really, there’s little in Carrion to criticise. In fact, my main criticism are that you can easily get lost in the game, as there is often little to know direction on where to progress next as you unlock new abilities and therefore areas. The other criticism would be that as you grow to your maximum size in game, the controls can get a little unwieldy as points. Depending on your preference, the game’s length of a few hours might be construed as a negative, but I thought it was the perfect length for the experience.
Overall, Carrion on Nintendo Switch is an utterly fantastic experience that any horror fan should get onto asap. It perfectly encapsulates the terrifying monster horror the game Is based on, and is filled with mayhem, gore and one hell of a power fantasy. I wholeheartedly recommend picking Carrion up if you have even a passing interest in horror or metroidvanias, although I appreciate that the horror-averse may not be too keen.
Carrion was reviewed on a regular Nintendo Switch, with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One. For more information, check out the official website.
- Incredible horrific style - Interesting abilities - Steady progression and escalation of horror and victims - Perfect length at a few hours
- Can easily get lost - Your largest size can be a little unwieldy