A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Carrion is a horror-themed action/adventure game available for download on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch game consoles, as well as Windows, MacOS, and Linux based computers. Players take on the role of blob-like creature freed from imprisonment and set on a path of destruction. The creature's main goal is to survive while killing as many scientists and soldiers as possible while making its way through the nearby research facility. The game's violence is over-the-top, with large amounts of blood and carnage constantly shown onscreen. But it uses a retro and pixelated art style that reduces the detail, though not the volume, of the gore.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
CARRION is a new spin on the classic horror game genre. Instead of running from the evil, bloodthirsty creature bent on destruction, players get to BE the monster itself. Awakened and freed from containment, you've got a hunger that's long overdue to be filled. Thankfully, there just so happens to be a research facility nearby, filled with all kinds of tasty human snacks. You'll use your shapeless form and supernatural abilities to your advantage as you slink unnoticed through crawlspaces, hide in the shadows, and strike with a vengeance by impaling victims, then devouring them whole. You'll need to make your way past automated defenses and flame-wielding guards as you infect the base, discovering pieces of research and unlocking new abilities in the process. You'll try to make your way to freedom and to an unsuspecting world just waiting to be devoured.
Is it any good?
Sometimes it's good the be the bad guy. At least that's the premise behind Carrion, the self-described "reverse horror" game that flips the script by dropping players into the role of the bloodthirsty monster lurking in the shadows, instead of the victims running from it. There's no denying that it's a lot of fun to give in to some darker impulses and leaving a path of slaughter and carnage in your wake. But once the initial thrill wears off, it quickly becomes apparent that a lot of hard work goes into being a gelatinous harbinger of death. In fact, if you look past the role-reversal gimmick, Carrion plays almost like any other side-scrolling action adventure game … just with a lot more blood and pixelated chunks of gore.
One immediate surprise is just how fragile your blob monster can be. Although you're a shapeless mass of goo, bullets can rip you to shreds relatively quickly. Fire is an even bigger threat, as your mass is apparently combustible and will continue to burn unless you find some convenient pool of water to douse the flames. This usually means players have to sneak up on their prey by taking out lights, keeping to the shadows, crawling through vents, and other textbook stealth mechanics. Although your creature gets bigger and meaner as the game progresses, the moments of feeling truly powerful are few and far between. Even the rooms in the base start to get repetitive after a while. That's not to say Carrion isn't fun to play, but the game leans more into its shock value and misses out on some more unique gameplay opportunities.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in gaming. Is the impact of the violence in Carrion affected by the pixelated art style of the game, which shows blood and gore, but in a less graphic way? How can graphic scenes of violence and gore affect younger audiences? Can extreme, over-the-top violence lessen the impact of that violence?
What are some of the ways that games portray players as either good guys or bad guys? What is the appeal of playing the villain in a game?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Devolver Digital
- Release date: July 23, 2020
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Violence, Blood and Gore
- Last updated: July 23, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.