The appeal of soulslike games is one I'd somehow avoided. Then the other morning I was mindlessly scrolling TikTok instead of falling asleep and came across a short video. I watched a small crab get fed up with dodging, blocking, and occasionally getting a hit in against a big boss crab, give up, and pop a cap in his face. It just pulled out a gun and blew him away. That game was Another Crab's Treasure by Aggro Crab which currently has a limited time demo up on Steam as part of this year's Next Fest.
I woke up the day after and, as soon as I had the chance in the morning work meeting, I pleaded with PCG's editors to let me explore this exciting new avenue for soulslike games. So here we are.
Another Crab's Treasure has you exploring the litter-filled ocean while trying to best the many dangerous sea creatures that appear around every corner as a small crab named Kril. The trash is more than a set dressing as the many pieces of wearable rubbish provide a broad selection of shell options, each with an ability known as a shell spell. A few of my favourite shells include the legal brick (a piece of Lego), and the thimble, simply because of how adorable they look sitting on Kril's back. The shell spells range from special attacks, to defensive buffs which will charge up as you fight enemies. You also get a grappling hook which is always a plus in my book.
We should probably get to the elephant-sized pistol in the room. This game has an assist mode. Love it or hate it you can increase your shell durability, reduce damage taken, lower enemy health and slow down the game speed… or you can just whip out a humongous pistol and one-shot everything like John Wick. This is as goofy as it sounds, especially since the size difference between the pistol and everything else is hilariously obnoxious. I love it.
I personally don't have the skill, patience, and memory to succeed and enjoy your typical soulslike. My frustration always outweighs the sense of satisfaction I feel and I'm often left deflated. I do however understand the appeal and recognise how the experience could be so rewarding. Building your skill and seeing noticeable gains is key to many games, so a quick easy fix in a genre based around slow improvement may not be for some.
My true nature took shorter to arise than I'd like to admit when playing this game.
A few times in fighting a giant crab was all it took for me to whip out the piece and start bodying crustaceans. It was absurd and hilarious. I dropped into the boss arena clearing, the music changed, the giant health bar materialised on screen, the intensity was building, and BAM, like a pin to a balloon, I drew and downed it in one shot. I am yet to find an enemy that can survive one of my bullets.
Another personal gaming characteristic I have is not being able to use a creative mode without immediately losing interest in the game. Once I've tasted the bitter sweet shortcut flavour, I am no longer invested. Months on a survival Minecraft server can be brought to a swift end after mere seconds in creative. With this in mind I do wonder if the assist settings here would do the same, though maybe it's a good way of getting people like me into trying out a genre of games that they'd usually avoid.