Another Crab's Treasure

Review: Another Crab’s Treasure

A plankton of harrowing showdowns.

In the ever-crowded world of games inspired by the work of FromSoftware, you wouldn’t expect the story of a plucky hermit crab trying to recover his beloved shell from an undersea capitalist hellscape to hit the nail so thoroughly.

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The setting of Another Crab’s Treasure couldn’t be any further from Lordran, or Drangelic, or Lothric, and so on. Instead of a grim expanse, players are immediately introduced to a colorful ecosystem in the depths of the ocean, at least for most of the adventure. Under that spongy veil, thorough challenges await, ready to pounce on the adorably naive Kril. 

The story starts innocently enough. Kril is minding his own business when a loan shark — you can probably imagine how literal this interpretation is — appears and reclaims his shell, citing the Duchy of Slacktide’s annexation of this particular tide pool. It turns out Kril owes more than his fair share of back taxes, so unless he can pony up he’s out one delightful little home-on-the-go.

From there, Kril’s adventure begins, taking him through an aquatic world under the affliction of a mysterious curse. That curse, it turns out, is our good friend pollution, an inevitable side effect of the aforementioned capitalist hellscape. As above, so below. 

Another Crab's Treasure
Screenshot by Destructoid

Another Crab’s Treasure (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S)
Developer: Aggro Crab
Publisher: Aggro Crab
Released: April 25, 2024
MSRP: $29.99

Wetter is better

Despite his seemingly innocent nature, Kril isn’t going to take this one lying down. He quickly grabs a fork and sets off on a quest to get his shell back, getting more than he bargained for along the way. As he meets new allies and uncovers new, more intimidating parts of the sea, he’ll have to fend off all the crustaceans and similarly mad creatures that have already succumbed to the affliction known as “Gunk.” 

Many of the classic Soulslike ponderments are answered right out of the gate. What’s the stand-in for Bonfires? Moon Snail Shells. Is there a parry and riposte system it would behoove you to master? Absolutely. There’s even a primary central location known as The Sands Between, so the team at Aggro Crab are having plenty of fun with the sub-genre. As Kril progresses, he’ll enter arenas littered with empty shells, taking in the scenery briefly before some hulking foe appears, health bar stretching across the screen like the yawning abyss itself. In many ways, especially with grappling present, it’s even closer to something like FromSoft’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

If Kril wants to survive more than a few hits in these and even the countless standard enemy battles, he’ll need to find the right shell for the job. Thankfully, the very detritus that contributes to the decline of maritime civilization can be used to your advantage. Soda bottle tops, shot glasses, and thimbles can become trusty means of defense. If you’re really in a pinch, you can slip into a banana peel, or maybe a discarded milk carton; they all have their own unique stats, from the amount of damage they can take to built-in secondary attacks and buffs. 

Another Crab's Treasure
Screenshot by Destructoid

When the going gets tough — and it often does — you can always increase stats through leveling. Defeated enemies and bosses drop Microplastics, which are this game’s take on Souls. You can also sell junk you find, from clothespins to paperclips, for larger amounts of Microplastics. Aiding you further is a skill tree, the nodes of which can be purchased with crystals. It starts with the basic Shelleportation skill that lets you warp between Moon Snail Shells. From there, it branches off into everything from the essential parry and riposte to the ability to use consumable Barbed Hook items to reel in vulnerable enemies for a pummelin’.

Toss in Stowaways, which can add passive benefits when you have a shell equipped, as well as powerful Adaptation moves, and you have an action game that gives you plenty of options for improvement and the eventual besting of some legitimately tough opponents. Despite its cute exterior, Another Crab’s Treasure doesn’t shy away from throwing you into the deep end quick, both literally and figuratively. In true genre fashion, you’ll die and die again at the hands of its many bosses, but Kril always has a fighting chance to survive.

One of the advantages is the fact that you don’t respawn all the way back at the nearest Moon Snail Shell after a boss kills you. Instead, you have the option of returning to life right outside the arena. Said arenas always have more shells to pick up, and there are often extra Heartkelp Pods — the equivalent of flasks — lying around. If all of that isn’t enough of an advantage for you, you could always just shrug, cock your gun, and let the fight end before it even begins.  

Armed and dangerous

Another Crab's Treasure
Screenshot by Destructoid

Let’s talk about the gun. Yes, Kril has a gun, and it packs some mighty heat. Kril’s gun isn’t something you’re going to find buried deep in the darkest depths of the ocean; it’s actually sitting right there waiting for you at the bottom of the accessibility menu. Another Crab’s Treasure is keen on letting you have fun, regardless of your skill level, so there are a wealth of options to choose from should you ever find yourself banging your head against a particularly rigid wall. Among those options is one especially powerful last resort.

If you toggle the gun on, it appears as a literal gun in place of Kril’s shell, absolutely dwarfing him. Not that it takes much to dwarf a tiny hermit crab, but still, it’s really big. That makes it extra funny when Kril uses it to fire at enemies, most of which will go down in one shot from a very generous distance. This applies to bosses, as well. If your skills aren’t quite cutting it at any point in the journey, you can just toggle the gun on and one-shot that colossal creature that’s been thrashing you for the past hour or so. 

Naturally, if you choose to use the gun, you’re not going to get any better at Another Crab’s Treasure. Allow me to push my spectacles up and murmur, just loud enough to hear, “”You cheated not only the game, but yourself, etc. etc. If you want to improve, you’ll have to brave Kril’s toughest challenges with the abilities you’ve earned. If you don’t, though, or if you just want to breeze through a section of the game? Hell, go for it. I know it’s controversial, but I believe games should be fun, and if you’re not having fun, you should either play a different game or let a crab use a gun. There are other less “final” options, too, like decreasing the damage Kril takes, lowering enemy health, or even increasing the parry and dodge windows. Whether you use them or not, it’s great that features like this exist and do nothing to detract from the game itself.

That swamp is poisooon

Circling back to that FromSoft checklist, the team at Aggro Crab decided to seal their loving missive to Hidetaka Miyazaki and co. with a deadly kiss. Yes, there is a poison swamp equivalent in Another Crab’s Treasure, and yes it is a pain in the ass. It’s very easy to fall in and boost your poison meter, or have some gnarly fish vomit on you and boost your poison meter, or, you get the picture. Somewhere, Miyazaki is smiling the most devilish of smiles, reflecting upon the hell he so effectively wrought.

This area was really the turning point for me. While the whole of Flotsam Vale wasn’t actually that miserable, it sets the tone for the rest of the adventure. Kril eventually makes his way beyond a pier, to a factory that deals in magnet manipulation and platforming and very much overstays its welcome. I’ve certainly played 3D action games with worse platforming, but Another Crab’s Treasure never really makes a case for why it’s so prevalent. There’s a lot of verticality, and the punishment for falling is minimal, but between wrestling with the camera and just wanting to get on with it, the tuna was starting to turn. 

By the time I completed the area, I figured I was getting near the end anyway, but there’s actually a ton of game beyond that. Some of it is really great! Some of it, not so much. On one hand, I absolutely appreciate how much work went into Kril’s journey. Aggro Crab put a ton of care into this, from the surprisingly earnest and funny story to some excellent voice acting and an abundance of fully-realized locales and imaginative challenges.

Another Crab's Treasure
Screenshot by Destructoid

On the other hand, much of it left me feeling fatigued. Each individual area is typically populated with a handful of enemies that you’ll either love squaring off against or feel the need to avoid at all costs. I found myself being momentarily wowed in each new zone before quickly wanting to rush ahead and see what else they cooked up for me. You know what that sounds like? Dark Souls! Like I said, they absolutely nailed what they were going for. There comes a certain point, though, when seeing the credits roll sooner might have been a salve for a wounded warrior. 

As draining as I found some of the backend to be, most of the boss fights are really well done. Like all good games of the genre, I still find myself thinking about many of them well after completing the main story. I loved the moves of bosses like Heikea, Intimidation Crab, who stomps down atop a sunken boat and wails at Kril with a set of freshly-snapped chopsticks, the arena littered with sushi rolls that can serve as makeshift shells. Voltai, the Accumulator, is an electric eel with some novel stage-based gimmicks. Even the final boss has some interesting surprises in store.

Even with some crab-meat caveats, it’s really difficult to be too down on my overall experience. There’s so much to like about Another Crab’s Treasure that I keep coming back to everything they accomplished. The underwater world, the puns, the monster designs that include iconic threats like “crab with knives rubber-banded to its claws”; it is the very essence of commitment to the bit. Outside of some frustrating platforming, it’s also just really fun to move Kril around. The way he skitters across the ocean floor, fluidly dodge-rolls to and fro, uses his hook to zip higher up, and floats with all his might to get just a bit more distance under his little leggies; great stuff. 

Part of me wishes Another Crab’s Treasure predated the Souls games, just so we would have to refer to genre offshoots as Crablikes. The sauce is certainly thick on this one, and I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time. Another Crab’s Treasure pulls off exactly what it set out to do, and it’s going to be a favorite for many. Thanks to some of the less palatable late-game moments, it didn’t quite get to that level for me, but I very much appreciate all the shell-bound friends and pelagic puns I met along the way. 

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.

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Joseph Luster
Joseph has been writing about games, anime, and movies for over 20 years and loves thinking about instruction manuals, discovering obscure platformers, and dreaming up a world where he actually has space (and time) for a retro game collection.