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Another Crab’s Treasure Review (PS5) – Under The Soulslike Sea

Another Crab’s Treasure Review (PS5) – Taking the structure and foundation from the title that the genre is named after, Another Crab’s Treasure is an innovative and engrossing new interpretation of the well-revered Soulslike genre that manages to stand out among the crowd in terms of visual design and game design alike.

Deftly weaving in elements from 3D platformers, the result is a Soulslike funnily unlike anything the genre has seen before and should be praised for that.

Disappointing performance at launch holds this title back from being truly classic but there’s a stellar game buried under an inconsistent frame-rate and strangely long load times that I feel like I could sink a ton of time into.

Another Crab’s Treasure Review (PS5) – Under The Soulslike Sea

Diving In Shell-First

Compared to other well-known titles in the genre, and the ones that have led to the namesake of a Soulslike, Another Crab’s Treasure is a character-driven narrative that follows the story of Krill – a young hermit crab who is quite literally thrown into a world where taxes are his biggest enemy.

With his hermit shell stolen, Krill embarks on a journey to get it back off an actual loan shark, and fight against unfair taxes.

What begins as a standard journey to regain his home evolves into a treasure hunt that spans the entire ocean floor.

Sending Krill through a world that is being damaged by human pollution, with a mysterious illness spreading that causes the wildlife to become aggressive to the sight of him.

While not especially deep, the story resonated with me in light of the ongoing outcry of preventing pollution in the ocean. This theme of environmental conservation runs through every aspect of the game in terms of visuals and gameplay and is realised well in those design decisions.

Outside of combat, there is a renewed emphasis on platforming that helped to add a great deal of verticality to the various biomes that you explore throughout the narrative and allowed for some creative set-pieces to unfold.

This platforming is accented by the use of human waste to create obstacles and often create the path ahead as you clamber on abandoned shoes, and break glass bottles to reveal the way forward.

Entire cities are made out of trash and have shopping receipts for pathways, while fallen-off keyboard keys are used for signage for particular shops. The imagination on show here is commendable and helped to evolve the environments from serviceable to a pure joy to experience.

An appropriately serene soundtrack scores the wide variety of areas that you visit across the ocean and was a great accompaniment to both exploration and combat.

Another Crab’s Treasure is an unapologetically hilarious game that had me laughing more times than I could count, and this was a great change of flavour.

Helped by a likeable and charismatic cast of characters that make this journey a memorable one, rather than totally solo.

Villains manage to be both devilishly entertaining as well as being genuinely imposing figures in the story and this definitely kept me pushing through some particularly tall asks throughout.

Claw-To-Claw Combat

The combat is where Another Crab’s Treasure’s inspiration begins to show itself in earnest and while it does feature a heavy combat system similar to its contemporaries, this title offers a staggering amount of unique flavour that will put veterans through their paces.

While simultaneously helping newcomers to (hopefully) overcome some truly stiff challenges throughout.

Primarily using a rusted fork for combat, players explore linear areas that are punctuated with Moon Snail Shells that serve as rest spots to regain health items and restore your “Umami” points for special moves.

Throughout each area, a wide variety of shells can be found and used by Krill to defend yourself and make use of. The word “shell” is a charitable catch-all term for a variety of equipment that had me surprised with each new one I found.

Again making use of the visuals of abandoned human trash, many of the shells you come across are abandoned plastic lids, drink cans, yogurt pots and shot glasses and each one has unique properties to consider when you carry them into combat.

Some shells are heavier and will impact your ability to dodge attacks, but can withstand a beating, where a particularly fragile shell might provide less protection at the advantage of higher agility or a particularly strong “umami” ability.

For the most part, you’ll be swapping around shells and discovering what works best for you throughout the opening hours of the game and this spirit of experimentation and expression is a vital part of developing a build.

Split over a far more approachable four stats instead of a staggering list found in other titles, players are given the freedom to invest in what stats they deem important.

These cover the standard categories in health points, physical damage, magical damage and (one I won’t spoil).

With the ability to specialise fairly easily, I found myself being encouraged to invest in different stat points according to the current challenge, without being buried under the weight of not knowing what was being given to me.

Combat itself takes notes from the core Dark Souls series while also taking inspiration from the revered Sekiro: Shadow’s Die Twice in a surprise focus on defence and parrying.

Similar to that game, enemies operate on a balance system, where parrying attacks and defending at the right time can throw them off balance or “capsize” them and open up the opportunity for big damage.

There is an interplay between keeping an eye on the health of your shell, using its unique abilities and keeping an eye out for new shells that managed to sink its claws into me and wouldn’t let go.

There’s a certain scrappy nature to combat that strangely felt like it would be exactly how a hermit crab would fight, if it did want to pick up a fork and choose violence.

Bosses highlight this and are a consistent highlight – as is often the standard with the soulslike genre.

Each area ends with a memorable encounter that is mechanically unique and well-realised within the world of the game, and the result is a staggeringly varied cast of villains that offered a fun challenge in spite of how often I found myself at the sharp end of a big crab’s claws.

Finer Details

Customisation runs even deeper than this, as Another Crab’s Treasure offers further ways to specialise your build while delicately balancing the experience for a newcomer to the soulslike genre.

This is largely centralised around the game’s central city hub, which allows players to explore and purchase things with microplastics that may be useful for particular challenges.

Stowaways are small pieces of equipment that can often have beneficial effects that can really be the big step in making the final touches to a particular build.

Where some give straight stat buffs, others offer unique effects that each have a potential use. Stronger attacks at the cost of a longer windup (list some others here).

A robust skill tree system also makes an appearance here and is largely flexible in how you can allocate and spend skill points throughout the journey, with particular branches of the tree being geared towards particular types of enemies.

I did feel like pretty vital abilities were locked behind the skill tree in order to fill it out and this was slightly disappointing, but costs are low enough that I very quickly had access to a move-set that allowed me to put up a fight against the biggest predators in the ocean – and then lose the fight very soon after.

While skill points are gathered after defeating the rogue’s gallery of bosses and tough enemies across the game, the primary method of gaining skill points is actually through exploring the areas that are visited.

A focus on exploration and platforming was definitely not what I expected as I started this game but I was pleasantly surprised to see that just as much thought has gone into creating an interesting world to explore as well as enemies to inhabit that world.

Skill point hunting encouraged me to scour these environments and soak in the details of the world, as well as seeing the extent to which the sea has been disrupted by the trash being thrown into it.

Navigating Rough Waters

The difficulty of the Soulslike genre has been a point of contention for years at this point. And in an exceptionally brave move, Another Crab’s Treasure has attempted to stake its territory as a Soulsike that anybody can enjoy, regardless of skill level.

An expansive slew of accessibility options are on offer for players to tailor their experience to their own taste, and to ensure that everybody can see the journey through to its end.

These options run the gambit from simple stat buffs and making it so currency isn’t lost upon death, all the way to equipping Krill with a comically oversized gun and basically giving you a win button for particularly tough bosses.

I’m more than certain that some form of discourse will brew from this decision, but the core game is never compromised or watered down in the process.

For veterans of the genre, Another Crab’s Treasure offers a blisteringly hard and nuanced combat experience that will push you to your limits.

For players wanting to try a lighter experience, the option is there too and never pushed on you after a few too many deaths, which is appreciated. This help is never framed as a player being “not good enough.”

The intelligent options on offer here will surely help new players push through some of the struggles of a first time and encourage them to try going without, and that’s only a good thing!

Similarly, named bosses tend to have dedicated checkpoints that players are able to restart from in case of an early death against a new foe.

These checkpoints allow for a quick way to jump back into a boss and keep on learning enemy patterns and ways to exploit their weaknesses, rather than splitting up my attempts into 10-minute sections.

These checkpoints don’t however allow you to level up or change your equipment, so there might be a reason to retreat further and change, but that falls to the player.

Trouble In Paradise

Despite having heaps of praise for the inventive work on show here, technical problems rear their heads often enough to cause some notable frustration and disrupt an otherwise smooth experience.

These issues were particularly prevalent when moving between various areas of the game, with moments where the game froze for upwards of 5 seconds while the rest of the area loaded.

These bottlenecks tend to occur in quieter areas and luckily never impacted the combat in a meaningful way, but did impact moments of platforming and actively contributing to more than one death throughout my time with the game.

I hope to see these being addressed in the coming weeks but for now these were severe speed bumps in an otherwise smooth experience. I noticed other small dips while exploring wider areas but these had almost no impact on minute-to-minute play.

The same could be said about the shockingly long load times between particular fast travel points throughout the world, and primarily the ones that are revisited across the story.

Purchasing and changing skill points became more of a slog than an exciting time and led to me questioning why this vital mechanic was sequestered of in an obscure part of the world, and not just tied to rest spots.

These small moments ultimately only slightly dent an otherwise brilliant experience that sets out to cast a wide net and bring a new catch of players into the world of the Soulslike, and in that way, Another Crab’s Treasure is a treasure indeed.

Another Crab’s Treasure is available on PS5 on April 25, 2024.

Review code generously provided by publisher.



The Final Word

Another Crab's Treasure sets out to try and create a Soulslike that trims down the complicated foundation into a new approachable format and succeeds in every regard. A variety of accessibility options mean that anybody can dive in and experience the journey of Kril and have a part to play in the hunt for his shell. While inviting newcomers, Another Crab's Treasure manages to offer an exceptionally unique approach to combat that manages to stand out among the crowd. Technical hiccups throughout sour the experience very slightly, but the game on show here is ambitious and a strong candidate for anybody's first foray into this well-beloved genre. All managing to come together under an appealing and consistently entertaining journey and cast, Another Crab's Treasure is a great time.