Over two months ago I was reached out by publisher Tendokore to look at two of their games from their catalog, Seaside Driving, and GyroBlade, the latter released on December 2022 for the Nintendo Switch. Since then, I was given another title to check out, this time a "#boomershooter" by the name of CARNAL. Inspired by 90s-era first-person shooters including DOOM and Quake. The latter's engine, including the Build engine, was used to develop and design CARNAL along with several other assets to make the game look as authentic to that era as possible.
What also makes CARNAL unique is its interesting "horror game-like" elements. The first map, E1M1, no relation to the classic DOOM map, is a barren uncomfortable dark "trailer park-esque" environment with human-like creatures shooting at the player. The enemies shout expletives when shot at, there's no reloading or "aiming down sights" either. Much like the older games, the player points in a general direction and shoots until the hit markers disappear and the enemy dies. There are also some weird wildlife monsters, such as a giant mutated fish to greet the player should they fail a platforming segment involving submerged cars.
The protagonist of CARNAL is, according to the itch.io game page, a "chad" member of the "Realm Defense Force" meant to take on a terror organization known as the "Sons of Amak." This organization opened a portal to the "other side" and they wish to extract Dark Matter to create "weapons of mass destruction," so our "chad" member has to fight the organization as well as whatever awaits the "other side." Obviously, the plot of the story is meant to complement the gameplay and not the other way around, with three episodes and roughly six levels per episode, meaning there's a sizeable amount of gameplay to be had.
Perhaps the most intriguing about CARNAL, aside from how in-depth the game gets for a dollar, is the developer himself. MercySoft is the developer name of JG Roos. In a FAQ thread on the Steam Community boards, Roos states that Quake, Zombie Ate My Neighbors, and other BuildEngine games including Redneck Rampage were inspirations for creating this game. The reason behind CARNAL's development? Simply put, a challenge to develop a Quake-like game in less than a month. There are even hints that he'd rather release the game for less than a dollar but decided against it.
Despite what the developer may feel about how much his game should be worth, I was left impressed with how much content and love was put into a game that was just made as a hobby. Ultimately, that's what gaming should be all about, playing and developing titles that fans of a certain genre want to develop. In most cases, developers have a 9-to-5 on top of building games and only do so as a pastime. This is also how certain developers begin their careers, coming from a field that often has little to do with gaming. If this is anything of encouragement, I had my fun with this Quake-inspired shooter and I understand the modesty, but the developer should pat himself on the back for his work.
Those who are intrigued on how far they can stretch their dollar should check CARNAL out as for a dollar game, there's enough content for games charged ten times the price at least. It's currently on Steam and on his website, he had crafted some concept builds for a potential CARNAL 2. Nevertheless, it's all fascinating stuff and I thank Tendokore and MercySoft for giving me the chance to showcase this hidden gem.
CARNAL is available on Steam.