Opinion

Another Crab's Treasure Makes a Case For Difficulty Options in Soulslikes

It’s all about fun.

Another Crab's Treasure
Aggro Crab Games

If there’s one thing Soulslike games are known for, it’s difficulty. Games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring are infamously punishing, and while the conversation is a lot more complex than those games simply being “hard,” you can’t deny that’s the association that’s been built. Beating a Souls game often requires a real commitment, which isn’t realistic for all players. It’s high time the genre takes steps to become more approachable to players of all skills and the most colorful Soulslike ever made, Another Crab’s Treasure, gives a perfect view of how it can be done.

Another Crab’s Treasure is one of the most refreshing Soulslikes we’ve seen in years, an example of a game that doesn’t just try to emulate the masterwork of FromSoftware, but be something different. It’s also clear that the game’s been a hit with players, already selling over 100,000 copies in just four days. No small feat for an indie game developed by a team of a dozen developers.

Another Crab’s Treasure can be brutally difficult, like most Soulslikes, but has a bright colorful aesthetic that breaks from the norm.

Aggro Crab Games

Everything you’d expect from a Soulslike is here — climactic boss battles, skills and stat progression, and methodical exploration. But it’s coupled with a heartfelt story, cartoon-y aesthetic, and satirical sense of humor.

Developer Aggro Crab Games knew full well that these more lighthearted elements could attract younger players, as well as plenty of newcomers to the Soulslike genre. To that end, the game has a dynamic “Assist Mode” that lets you tweak a variety of different options to fine-tune your experience. The key word here is options, as the core experience of Another Crab’s Treasure has been fine-tuned around that trademark Soulslike difficulty. You can ignore the Assist Mode entirely if you want, simply going through the game as normal, or you can tweak the options. Importantly, activating assist mode doesn’t alter anything in the game, it doesn’t lock any content or trophies and doesn’t alter the story.

What’s interesting about Assist Mode is the degree of control it gives you over the game’s elements. You can give yourself extra shell health, reduce the damage you take, lower enemy health, give yourself extra invincibility windows during dodges, extra windows for parrying, and even slow down the game speed, among other options.

Assist Mode is a simple easy-to-access menu, with a wealth of options that can all be individually changed.

Aggro Crab Games

Every single option is its own setting that can be toggled on and off, so instead of toggling between a few difficulty modes you can actually tweak whatever elements of the game might give you the most trouble. If you love the combat but hate platforming, just turn off pitfall damage. Or if you’re frustrated by losing experience each time you have to respawn, turn that off.

Another Crab’s Treasure brilliantly lets you fine-tune your playthrough exactly how you want to, but it never forces these options on the player. It’s a reminder that difficulty, oftentimes, can come down to player choice. Soulslike games don’t need to be defined by difficulty, even games like Elden Ring have so much more to offer outside of combat.

Players that want to experience the world, story, and lore, have to engage with its combat and systems, even if they don’t excel at action games. More importantly, it can simply be a matter of accessibility, as options like Assist Mode can help bring in a bigger audience, particularly people with disabilities.

The brilliance of Assist Mode lies in how it can be turned on and off at any moment. That means you can keep boss battles intact as brutally difficult challenges, but make exploration easier.

Aggro Crab Games

Yes, Souls games are intentionally designed to be methodical experiences where you learn from trial and error, and your own skill and experience grow alongside your character's stats. Games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring are masterfully designed around these ideas, but it’s time that we realize that opening these experiences up to more players is only a good thing.

Another Crab’s Treasure proves that we can have our cake and eat it too. It reveals that there’s no reason not to include difficulty and accessibility options, when you can still design the base game around all the core tenets that players love about Soulslikes. Another Crab’s Treasure feels like a surprising step forward for the genre, an example that Soulslikes still have so much more room to grow and evolve.

Another Crab’s Treasure is available on PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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