The Deadliest Catch game has way more staring at crab crotches than I expected

I've never seen Deadliest Catch, Discovery Channel's long-running series about crab fishing in the Bering Strait. If I had to guess what it's like based on the alpha demo of Deadliest Catch: The Game, it mostly focuses on someone hunched over a table staring intently at crab crotches. Because there's a lot of that in this demo.

But before you stare at crab crotches, you have to find crabs! I begin the demo docked at a harbor where I look at a map and pick the most likely spot to catch those crabs. Having narrowed it down to "the ocean" I slowly and awkwardly perform the 743 steps required to put a big cage in the water and pull it back up.

I begin by taking a large ice cube made of dead fish and shred it in some sort of machine, which dumps it in a huge, sloppy bucket, and then I scoop up some of the shredded frozen fish mulch in some kind of bait thing.

Next I move a big cage over to a platform using a massive crane and drop it there. I then stick the bait thing inside the big cage, then pick up a buoy and attach that to the cage, then spend roughly five minutes trying to attach a second buoy because the instructions tell me to attach "buoys," plural.

Then I give up and just pull a lever to tip the cage into the water, hoping one buoy is enough. I wait.

When I say wait, I mean I fast forward time until a meter tells me the cage is full of delicious crabs, which is a handy bit of technology I assume real crabfisherpeople don't have. Then I steer the boat alongside the buoy, grab a grappling hook and play a sort of weird minigame to hook the buoy rope and pull the line taut, and I also have to operate a winch to reel it in, at which point I have to lower a hook from a second winch, attach that hook to the cage, try to put the cage onto the platform, realize I first have to straighten the platform with the lever, then actually put the cage on the platform, then move a crab-sorting table over to the cage—

Look, it's lot of steps and there are a lot of buttons and levers and winches and it feels like there must be a better way to catch crabs than this! I mean, it's 2019, it's Blade Runner times. Why are we dunking cages into the ocean with our own hands? Can't we send a robot to do this, or drop a massive bomb in the ocean and collect the dead crabs as they float up, or capture and brainwash one traitor crab and have him recruit others until all crabs are convinced to just walk out of the ocean and into our restaurants?

Bottom line, you need to tip the platform in the correct direction so the crabs spill out on the sorting table. Make sure you don't tip the platform the wrong way or this terrible thing happens to your cage full of beautiful, valuable crabs:

No buoy on that cage! That cage is now a crab prison on the bottom of the ocean. Shiiiit.

Here's the right way to do it:

Once you've got crabs on the table, it's time to start sorting them. Kidding! Why would it be that simple?

First you have to move the table away from the cage, which involves a good four minutes of wondering why the table isn't moving even though I pushed the 'move table' button. (Turns out it's because I'm standing in the way, and the table is polite enough not to crush me). Once the table is moved to the correct location, it's time to flip each crab upside down and stare at their genitals.

The reason for this is, you want to keep and eat the male crabs while throwing the female crabs back, presumably so they can give birth to more crabs for you to catch later. Which is really a terrible idea, because look, if you eat all the male crabs who willingly walked into a cage you're leaving only the male crabs who didn't willingly walk into a cage, and they're all gonna ejaculate their cage-avoiding genes into all the female crabs you're dumping back into the ocean, meaning you'll eventually wind up with a generation of crabs that will never walk into a cage. Hyper-intelligent crabs.

Where will we be then? Huh? My crab-bombing campaign is starting to sound pretty reasonable.

In the meantime, there are differences in the way male and female crab crotches look, which I tried to memorize before it turned out the game will just tell you if you're looking at a male or female. You flip the crab over and stare at its junk until the meter tells you, and also you don't want to kill baby crabs, so you put them in the discard pile along with the female crabs.

Then, you grab a big bucket and put the male crabs in it, which you want to stick in a hole on the floor of the boat. And while you're trying to figure out how to open the crab hole, that's when the crabs suddenly gain magical teleportation powers and escape.

Did you see that? They all jumped out of my professional crab haulin' bucket. And then they teleported a few times. In a group. This is why they're the deadliest catch.

But hey, I guess that's what alphas and demos are for: To figure out if the game works or if you've accidentally programmed crabs to have group teleportation powers. I eventually do manage to reel in a box-o-crabs that can't phase shift, and I stuff them in my crab hole, and take them back and sell them for one thousand dollars.

With my limited knowledge of actual crab prices it's maybe not very much, but it feels like a good haul. I use the money to buy two new cages (I accidentally dumped my second cage into the ocean the same way I accidentally dumped my first), and I also buy a skill that makes my bait more efficient, and I fill up my boat with boat gas and head back out to do some more crab-finding. But when I get out there, the two new cages I bought aren't on my ship, so I can't do anything. I head back to harbor, buy two more cages, but they never appear on my ship either. And now I'm out of money.

So, either the alpha of Deadliest Catch is a big buggy at this stage, or the crabs have sabotaged my operation by murdering my cage delivery man. It's the kind of counter-intelligence work I'd expect from teleporting crabs. Whatever, cowards, I'll be back as soon as the harbor shop starts selling bombs.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.