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Another Crab's Treasure review: a playful Soulslike for everyone, especially if you like crabs

This will more than tide you over

Kril holds up a green heart in Another Crab's Treasure.
Image credit: Aggro Crab

Lots of Soulslikes have about as much joy, and the same colour palette, as a burning cowpat. They are grim and dark and often have gimmicks that are a bit middling: mechanical arms that spew gunk, or turning to stone. Or they stand out with incredibly deep combat, with dense menus and rainbow loot. So, Another Crab's Treasure comes as a refreshing surprise, what with it's crustacean theme, platforming, and shell gimmick that actually complements fights in clever ways. Not only that, but it's colourful and funny, with plenty of challenge for veterans and plenty of difficulty tweaks for those who just want a good time. Trade cowpat for coral, I'd say.

You play as Kril, a hermit crab whose shell (also home) gets plucked off their back by a loan shark. And in a sequence of undesirable events, your shell ends up on the back of Prawnathan, a wily salesman who won't give up your home for anything… except a certain legendary treasure. Despite the fact Kril could probably take Prawnathan in a claw fight, Kril is overly nice and acquiesces. So off you go, gathering pieces of a treasure map scattered across various regions, fighting nasty crustaceans, and uncovering why sea-dwellers have succumbed to a mysterious disease that's transformed them from crabs to crabby.

While you might look at the game's cutesy cartoon art style and think its whole setup is a bit juvenile for you, I'd say that you'd be silly to pass it off as a game for big babies. The writing is frequently funny (like, actually funny), and it's refreshing to play a colourful Soulslike that doesn't pine after FromSoft's dark fantasy setting. Another Crab plops you in an ocean besieged by human waste and pollution, which is no doubt grim, but the environmental theme is tackled with humour and a sense that these resourceful crabs can thrive off our junk. I particularly love how a trendy hairstyle is a curled orange peel. A cute dress is a receipt with burned edges, giving it an crisped flair. And that one guy's smart hat is a bog roll.

Two crabs in New Carcinia celebrate Trash Day in Another Crab's Treasure.
Is there a metacommentary about the grimness of crab society being at the whims of us humans and the rubbish we produce? And that we're corrupting them, forcing poor sea creatures to bludgeon each other for treasure that's imprinted on the back of a cereal box? Yes, probably. | Image credit: Aggro Crab

Exploration is for the most part linear, taking on a sort of traditional Soulsy angle. You explore, bouncing between the Moon Crab's Moon Shells that act as your bonfires, letting you rest up and eventually Shelleport as fast travel, and spend microplastics you earn from fallen enemies on levelling up a handful of pleasantly manageable key stats. Eventually you'll hit the big city of New Carcinia, which acts as a hub with a blacksmith and other vendors, but moreso a place where folks steer you towards the next treasure piece. A wise crab with a Pringle for a hat will tell you to go North from the Sands Between and seek out a mysterious locale, for instance. In this way, it's easy to know where you're headed at all times.

Earning a powerful Zooplankton Stowaway in Another Crab's Treasure.
You can attach friendly critters and other bits onto yourself that act like charms from the Souls series. These take up a certain amount of slots each, so you can't equip lots of powerful bits unless you upgrade your stow capacity. | Image credit: Aggro Crab

Even if sometimes those areas can be a bit confusing. Some spots, at least early on, are fairly expansive and can be quite easy to get lost in. Most are wonderfully realised, though, fitting the theme perfectly with curdled towns erected from empty milk cartons and discarded baskets acting as magnificent centerpoints for poison swamps. Even better is your ability to hop and climb and swing through them, as this is as much a platformer as it is a Soulslike. You'll bounce off sponges, chuck barbed hooks to grapple over to overhanging netting and do 'lil doggy paddles to close tight gaps. And don't worry, the platforming is intuitive and fairly snappy, with very few annoying moments.

When you're not clambering up a sieve, you'll spend most of your time fighting crabby crustaceans with your only weapon: a fork. And at its most basic form, the combat again follows the typical Souls formula. You'll lock onto enemies, dodge roll to avoid their swings, and you'll munch on heart kelp to heal. The aim is to land hits to chunk health bars, and more importantly, work on maxing out their stagger metre. Once that's maxed out, you can hit them with a charge attack to Capsize them, making them vulnerable to your attacks for a few precious seconds. Thing is, you're a crab and this isn't just your generic Soulslike with middling gimmick. Oh no.

The home on your back isn't so much a home anymore - cheers, loan shark - but the equivalent of a shield slot. Some enemy crabs might, say, wear a bottle cap, so if you defeat them you can wear the discarded bottle cap on your back and use it to absorb attacks by hunkering down inside it. You can still scuttle a little while hunkered and, unlike some Souls games, it'll absorb 100% of an enemy's attack. Once the blue shield metre ticks down to zero, it'll shatter, rendering you naked and reliant on dodge rolls to avoid pain. So it's important that you keep an eye on your shield health, or at least a side-eye on any potential new homes you can hop into if that jacked lobster knocks your walls in.

Fighting a demonic crab wielding a mallet in Another Crab's Treasure.
Image credit: Aggro Crab

What's really neat about this gimmick is - besides it being a thematic treat - that you're encouraged to hop between shells regularly, putting the focus less on the fork and more on your temporary home. There are loads of shells lying about, like coffee pods and skulls and tin cans and shuttlecocks (my fave, obviously) many of which you'll hurtle into when in a hurry, and all of which are home to special abilities, too.

Thanks to the Moon Crab, you're able to wield the power of Umami. Umami's dictated by charges you've got available and these recharge when you bash enemies, rewarding aggression. Coffee pods give you temporary movement and attack speed boosts, while banana skins can be eaten in their entirety for a burst of health at the cost of your protection. There's even a husk of a dead crab that acts as a decoy when activated, which can buy you critical re-shelling time as it dupes enemies.

Yes, it's a bit of a shame you can't slap with soggy cigar butts or shank with a cocktail stick, but you do have some other means of aggression. Umami lets you perform special techniques you'll obtain after you've beaten some of the game's toughest encounters, like a thunderous punch that capsizes enemies in an instant. The Moon Snail also has four smallish skill trees you'll invest crystals into (easily obtainable after fights or around) that grant you loads of useful abilities. Those barbed hooks used for swinging over to nets? You can upgrade those so you can actually grapple onto enemies for a sucker punch. My favourite is the ability to stick shells onto my fork, turning it into a makeshift hammer.

Climbing up some netting in Another Crab's Treasure.
Various crabs look up a cereal box with a missing chunk in Another Crab's Treasure.
Image credit: Aggro Crab
Kril's shell is an enormous pistol in Another Crab's Treasure.
Performance on the Steam Deck has been perfectly doable on lowest settings. And on PC, it's been fantastic. However, I did encounter one bug on PC where I'd enter an infinite loading screen upon death in a certain zone. | Image credit: Aggro Crab

Shells and all these abilities mean that despite the lack of weapon variety, combat rarely gets stale. But that's not to say that because your options are so generous it's all extremely easy. I'd say the default difficulty setting is really quite tough, as enemies have a habit of mincing you in a couple of hits if you're not careful. This persists throughout, actually, as I found enemies scaled up to your level, so I never really felt my baseline power or protection get stronger as I poured microplastics into them.

Still, there's a wealth of options to turn the game into a baby's first Dark Souls if you'd like. The difficulty can be turned from the default Hard, to Easy and Story, with Story making things way easier for people who want minimal challenge. Individual settings like, losing microplastics on death or damage from falls, can be turned off without affecting the overall difficulty, too. You can even just go, "Fuck it" and flip the "Give Kril a gun" slider that lets you bomb around areas with a pistol capable of one-shotting basically everything that stands in your way. I entirely ruined a tough boss fight for myself by tapping some mega-shrimp to death in a couple of blasts. It was wonderful.

Another Crab's Treasure may be one of the most cohesive Soulslikes out there, in how it's taken the hermit crab theme and actually turned it into a playful ARPG with interesting fights. And while it's challenging enough for Souls fans, I rate the plethora of options that let you turn it into a far easier time. This is, genuinely, a soulslike for everyone.

This review was based on a review build of the game provided by the developers.

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