Crab Rave

So, I finished Another Crab’s Treasure, and it has changed my life.

When I wrote about it last week, I thought that I was nearing the end of the game. I was wrong. I was only about 2/3 of the way done, and that last third went hard. Remember how I kept bangin’ on about how Another Crab’s Treasure is such a silly, funny game? Yeah, that kinda goes away once you hit a certain event. In retrospect, there is a serious tone lurking under the surface from the very outset of the game, so it’s not complete tonal whiplash, but there’s definitely a major shift in tone for the last couple areas of the game.

Now, normally I would be slightly perturbed by a funny thing dramatically shifting into a serious thing. But what sets Another Crab’s Treasure apart is that it started to evoke feelings that I know (too) well, and I think it kind of goes without saying that that emotional resonance made it really work for me. Being able to relate to all the complex feelings that Kril has to sort through along his journey was sobering, to some degree. I’ve been to those dark places. Some of them I still see on a semi-regular basis. And while I’m sure that a wealth of fictitious characters have been written with similar arcs, this one hit me particularly hard.

That said, the actual game part of the game stays strong throughout, all the way up to the finale. I said before that each of the game’s biomes is distinct and interesting, and that holds true for the last couple. In fact, the endgame areas are absolutely the best, boasting great visual design, gimmicks, and challenge that all somehow go perfectly hand-in-hand with each other. Another Crab’s Treasure is truly a masterwork of game design, though hopefully not lighting in a bottle.

One other thing I liked a lot is that either I legitimately got good at the game as I played, or most of the difficulty is front-loaded. That’s not really to say that it gets easy as you get further in, but I absolutely died way less and spent way less time being frustrated in the second half of the game than I did in the first. Maybe the fact that I put basically all my level-up points into attack and defense made my life easier. Maybe it was just me getting more used to the nuances of the game. Maybe it’s a little bit of all those different things! One way or another, I couldn’t help but mentally draw comparisons to Kid Icarus and how that game also tends to get easier as you go.

And then there’s the ending. Oh, the ending! I’m keeping this spoiler-free, so I don’t really want to say too much, but it’s so bittersweet in so many ways. And it’s so.. realistic! Another Crab’s Treasure doesn’t have a happy ending. Not really. But it has a hopeful ending, and I think that’s actually a huge point in its favour. It doesn’t tritely fall back on tropes to deliver the picture-perfect ending that players expect. It provides a surprisingly realistic take on what would happen after the events that unfold in the game, but the main characters (at least, what few are left at the end) all end up looking toward their uncertain futures with a little more optimism. It’s really quite beautiful, and completely unexpected.

Another Crab’s Treasure is a video game. In fact, at this point, I can confidently say that it’s going to be one of my favourite games of the year. But Another Crab’s Treasure is also art, and I will be more than happy to fight anyone who challenges that assertion. It has a lot of thing to say, and while it delivers its messages in a silly, cartoonish way, it still manages to do so with shocking proficiency. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this game also made me feel in a way that I never could have anticipated, and actually even made me look inward a bit. I think maybe it was a bit of an overstatement to say that this game changed my life, but it almost feels like it could have, if I’d needed it to.

And then there’s the song that plays over the credits. Christ, game! My feels! They can’t take much more!

It’s cute and beautiful and poignant and I love this game so, so much.

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