One of the great things about Devolver is the way we can always depend on it to release unique titles. Games like Ape Out, The Messenger, and Hotline Miami come to mind, and now Carrion can be added to the list. Developed by Phobia Game Studio, Carrion is a side scrolling action exploration game, in which you control an alien-like blob that has the ability to grow as it murders everything in its path. I had the chance to go hands-on with it at E3 2019.
Carrion’s main feature is how it mimics a game like Katamari Damacy, except here you grow as you kill. From the short demo I played, I didn’t have much of an explanation as to why the character grows, and I don’t anticipate there will be anything in the realm of hand-holding or explanations. Moving around felt satisfying, especially when I got the hang of the awkward controls. There were moments when I’d get into the flow of things and start to zip across the levels way faster than I expected.
The pixel art style is absolutely incredible, and gives its graphically violent content more accessibility. Carrion’s artist deserves much praise, especially when it comes to the main monster’s design. This really comes across when you start progressing through the game, as your character evolves.
Carrion E3 2019 Preview — Trust the Player
I struggled the most with Carrion out of any game I played at E3, which is unfortunate. Something about the way the controls were designed felt unresponsive, but seeing as how it is still in development, it’s unfair to pass any final judgments at this point. For the purposes of the demo, I had trouble interacting with the environment, especially when it came to crashing through obstacles that block your path.
Along with that, it did also get confusing when trying to figure out where to go. Without a map to reference, things got frustrating quickly. It was even said that a map would likely not get added because of the developer’s vision for the project. Phobia Game Studio wanted to make Carrion a challenging game, which was most definitely accomplished with the current build.
There are various power-ups in Carrion that allow you to interact with the environment in different ways. One that I found will make you smaller, so you can pass through more narrow areas, and there are apparently a lot more to discover. You’ll also find a few different biomes, too, all of which are said to include reasons to go back and visit them again. They will be mildly Metroidvania in nature, since you have to backtrack and collect items.
In its current state, Carrion is unforgiving and most likely needs to be tweaked in some way to make it even slightly more accessible. There is an interesting foundation there, with a wide range of ideas that could add up to a unique game with the right design choices. At this point, I worry how well it will do since it pushes back so much.
Carrion is expected to launch in 2020 for PS4 and its developer is “considering” including a Platinum trophy, for all you avid trophy hunters out there.