It’s hard being an amorphous creature of unknown origin, especially when a bunch of jerk scientists have decided to lock you in a container and perform experiments on you. Can anyone really blame you if you go on a rampage, killing all of your attackers and building a hive so your kind can survive and thrive? That’s the basic premise of Carrion, one of the more delightful titles I got to play during E3.
Featuring retro-pixel graphics, a highly fluid and responsive creature, and all of the pixelated gore you could dream of, Carrion is really a delight to play. The creature is made up of a mass of writhing not-quite-tentacles which stretch, squish, and stick to surfaces, allowing you to move about. Humans will try and kill you, but they are small and squishy compared to your speed and mass, and killing them is as easy as flinging yourself at them–just be sure you avoid their weapons.
Carrion is entirely free of UI elements such as health meters. Health is expressed through the size of your creature; the edges of the screen flash red whenever you take damage, and the more damage you take, the more biomass your creature loses. Humans will do their best to damage you, using traps, bullets, and even flamethrowers, the latter of which will cause you to catch on fire and take damage until you submerge yourself in water to douse the flames.
Fortunately, you’re more than equipped to survive the onslaught of humanity. Not only can you eat the offending humans to regain biomass (unless they’re wearing body armor, apparently that causes an upset alien tummy, and we wouldn’t want that) by simply grabbing a corpse and dragging it towards your mouth, you’ve also got your own arsenal of tricks. The creature has a wide range of skills which unlock as you gain biomass and make your way through the levels.
The first thing you have to do is start setting up a hive, creating nodes of pulsing alien flesh which also serve as checkpoints. Eventually, you’ll learn to shoot webs, break down doors, sneak, and even turn invisible so you can sneak up on those mean, fleshy humans. The levels often loop and flow from one to the next, meaning you’ll probably be making your way through any given screen two or three times before you’ll have the new skill required to slither your way through to a new area. But that’s not a complaint–much the opposite.
Playing the creature is great fun; the way it moves, slinks, and bounces around while still staying very much under your control. It’s like controlling a wrecking ball on an elastic string–and while this comment got me a few funny looks–it’s actually kind of cute. In a strange, pulsating, mass of tendrils kind of way. Regardless if everyone thought I was nuts for calling the creature cute, they all appreciated my “om nom nom” sound effects I made each time I gobbled up a human. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the creature is cute or not when Carrion comes to consoles and PC in 2020. Be sure to check out our E3 coverage for more interviews and hands-on coverage from the convention floor.