Another Crab’s Treasure review: better boiled in butter

Another Crab’s Treasure innovates on the soulslike genre by switching up some of its staples
Another Crab's Treasure
Another Crab's Treasure / Aggro Crab

I usually don’t preface reviews with the technical details, but it’s impossible to review Another Crab’s Treasure without mentioning how it performs on Nintendo Switch. Walls are a suggestion. You will clip through them and then have to click the die button so as not to be softlocked. You will do this a lot. There are memory leak issues where if you play for too long, the game will run in seconds per frame, not frames per second, and it only runs at roughly 15 FPS at the best of times. It also crashes frequently. You usually don’t lose progress, but it’s far from immersive, and I was glad to have the option to ‘Give Kril a Gun,’ which one-shots everything when it crashed immediately following a tough final boss fight.

Another Crab’s Treasure is a soulslike, a genre best known for its challenging but fair combat. However, when you are only privy to one in four frames, even the best-designed fights feel unfair. As I was playing Another Crab’s Treasure, there was so much I could see that I liked, but I was also incredibly frustrated. I found myself becoming more unforgiving of parts of the design I would usually not dwell on. This is why I wanted to give this disclaimer. I am told that it runs well on other platforms, and though I’ve tried my best to see the game for how it should be, I have to acknowledge that the technical performance and bugs have soured my experience.

Another Crab's Treasure screenshot
Another Crab's Treasure / Aggro Crab

In Another Crab’s Treasure, you play as Kril, a crab whose house (shell) was repossessed by the tax man, and you go on a journey to pay your taxes. The cheery, brightly lit graphics strongly juxtapose with the dark theme, which not only discusses the problems that sealife faces – such as pollution and the climate crisis – but our human problems, like how unfair our capitalist consumerist society is. Under the sea, and above it too, the rich get richer by keeping the working class subservient and poor through the consumption of trash. It’s a little on the nose, but that adds to the camp, and honestly, a distressing look at what our society has become is far more depressing than the post-apocalyptic wasteland of most other soulslikes. You work hard to scrape together just enough to pay off your house only to find out that the loan shark has already sold it off: what’s more dystopian – and realistic – than that?

The fully-voiced cutscenes have the vibe of a Saturday morning cartoon, albeit one that is based on The Wolf of Wall Street. Kril’s childish voice is the perfect complement to his childlike innocence, and it helps give the whole game a higher-quality feel. The hub world of New Carcinia is also beautifully designed as a playground to try out all of your platforming abilities, like the fast-paced grapple and floaty jump. It can be a little difficult to navigate, but that doesn’t matter when you are drifting off and clinging to cargo nets.

Another Crab's Treasure screenshot
Another Crab's Treasure / Aggro Crab

This is a good time to point out that Another Crab’s Treasure has chosen to innovate on the soulslike genre by switching up some of its staples, and other games in the genre should take notes. You can summon a platform to revive right outside the boss arenas and skip that annoying run up. This allows players to get right back into the action, or if they need a breather wait things out a bit to regroup. Other additions, like the ability to pause in battle, have obvious negative effects. While you can’t heal infinitely like in Breath of the Wild, you can switch your loadout to increase your defense when in a tough situation, or equip a revive when close to death. These small mechanics make the game not only more accessible for the player but more manageable for the designer, too.

When a player can equip a revive at the last minute, it means that you don’t have to worry about balancing AI, or chain attacks that can stun-lock you for your full health bar. These would be unbearably frustrating without the ability to pause, but they’re manageable with revives. However, this is a disservice to otherwise well-designed boss fights, which, for the most part, feel challenging but fair. This leads me back to the navigation issues. Another Crab’s Treasure has added a map… sort of. Deep in the menu is a small portion of the map, but you can’t move it to get a better view, and you need to go through several menus to even glimpse it. In the earlier areas, the level design is very open, with no real indication of the path forward. The edges of the area are marked with invisible walls, a personal pet peeve, but another necessary addition when everything looks the same. Soulslikes might not have detailed maps, but it is usually very clear where you are meant – or even able – to travel, an important game design point that is sorely missing here.

Another Crab's Treasure screenshot
Another Crab's Treasure / Aggro Crab

The pathfinding gets clearer in later areas, but this is because most of these levels are vertical. You still have the problem of things looking too similar, but with the added annoyance of pits that you constantly fall down. Instead of sending you back to the last bonfire – I mean Moon Snail Shell – you spawn where you last touched the ground, but this causes its own problems. Sometimes, you will touch the ground on the way down in an area you can’t escape from, meaning you have to click the ‘die instantly’ button like you do when you get stuck. In the Switch version, you also clip through things, which makes this respawning all the more frustrating.

As Lies of P’s strongest soldier, I can see the beauty in the challenge of soulslikes, and some of the changes Another Crab’s Treasure makes to the formula seem to have been made without understanding why those aspects were there in the first place. You don’t have to precisely balance combat and enemy placement when players can turn down the difficulty if they’re frustrated. Likewise, you don’t have to fix the litany of technical issues before release if you add in a gun that one-shots everything when the game falls apart.

Another Crab's Treasure screenshot
Another Crab's Treasure / Aggro Crab

There is so much to praise Another Crab’s Treasure for. The story and characters are genuinely delightful, and I love the fact that a studio dared to innovate on a formula as strong and established as soulslike. These innovations are even successful in places, though others need closer examination and refinement. I could see what the team was trying to accomplish in so many places, which made it even worse when the game didn’t live up to the vision. But my primary takeaway from this experience is that the state in which Another Crab’s Treasure has launched on Switch is unacceptable. It simply doesn’t work, and you definitely shouldn’t buy it.

Score: 5/10

Version tested: Nintendo Switch (unfortunately)


Published
Georgina Young

GEORGINA YOUNG

Georgina Young is a Gaming Writer for GLHF. They have been writing about video games for around 10 years and are seen as one of the leading experts on the PlayStation Vita. They are also a part of the Pokémon community, involved in speedrunning, challenge runs, and the competitive scene. Aside from English, they also speak and translate from Japanese, German and French. Their favorite games are Pokémon Heart Gold, Majora’s Mask, Shovel Knight, Virtue’s Last Reward and Streets of Rage. They often write about 2D platformers, JRPGs, visual novels, and Otome. In writing about the PlayStation Vita, they have contributed articles to books about the console including Vita Means Life, and A Handheld History. They have also written for the online publications IGN, TechRadar, Space.com, GamesRadar+, NME, Rock Paper Shotgun, GAMINGbible, Pocket Tactics, Metro, news.com.au and Gayming Magazine. They have written in print for Switch Player Magazine, and PLAY Magazine. Previously a News Writer at GamesRadar, NME and GAMINGbible, they currently write on behalf of GLHF for The Sun, USA Today FTW, and Sports Illustrated. You can find their previous work by visiting Georgina Young’s MuckRack profile. Email: georgina.young@glhf.gg