After 5 years of raving, the crabs have done messing around. Crab Champions is a game based on smash hit “Crab Rave”, a song released by Noise Storm, developed and pubblished by the eponymous company Noise Storm Limited. As advertised on its Website, the game revolves around the notorious crab hopping from island to island in a roguelike third-person shooter, fighting enemy crabs, pufferfish and pumpkins? Although still an early-access game, Crab Champions is already showing great initiative, with the game’s first patches being better than a lot of new releases, with a great variety of upgrades and weaponry that keep every run fresh! (Even though the balancing needs some fine-tuning). With 2023 seeming like a wonderful year for roguelikes, with sequels such as Darkest Dungeon II and ports from the playstation with Returnal, this april-fools game unironically seems to be a potential new contender.
But what can be so great about this game? From fast-paced smooth movement to interesting upgrade ideas, let’s dwelve into it!
While definitely not the game’s focus, the graphics are very appealing nonetheless. With vibrant colouring and very cartoony trees, the game’s atmosphere stays very upbeat and eye-catching as you shoot and throw grenades at your enemies. Textures aside, the visual effects of the different projectiles and explosions can become distracting and they can make keeping track of every hostile entity even worse in an already-existing bullet hell (luckily, explosions are clearly delineated by circles regardless of their effects). As for other assets in the game, the very glossy and shiny effects that follow them can make the aesthetics awkward at times.
As for reaching these islands, the game sadly does not permit for the player to make many decisions; where Slay the Spire would allow for different pathings (removing tedious RNG and rewarding better decision-making), or The Binding of Isaac, setting randomized floor layouts to render every run unique, Crab Champions limits the player to two diverging islands that always lead to forced shops, horde events, and ultimately bosses. While definitely not a game-killer, replayability can most definitely end much sooner and make the gameplay loop feel repetitive, especially when the game refuses to give certain types of perks that can make the game feel incomplete.
Best movement shooter of 2023?
The movement’s fluidity in this game is unparalleled. Although only allowing simple movement options like dashing and double jumps, Noisestorm implemented the functions amazingly together in conjunction with momentum retainment to encourage a low skill-floor but high ceiling when confronting positioning. Meanwhile, the enemy design compliments these mechanics perfectly, as they throw large projectiles and mobile minions that keep you on your toes (Even though the sheer amount of visual clutter in boss fights make a lot of the damage feel unfair). For player whose aim is worse than average, the game remains very accessible through air bullet-time, decreasing a need for Aimlabs practice (not to mention that most enemies have sizeable hitboxes, allowing for more carefree spraying).
Currently, the upgrades, or perks, you can obtain as a crab are of a decent size, which promises very well for a game in early-access. While there are the usual “higher firerate” boosts, a lot of the loot was made with tactical build-crafting in mind, as they provide improvements mostly at the cost of other stats. This, paired with limited inventory slots, incite smart decision-making while still keeping the opportunity of busted runs through levelling-up already owned items. Although synergies can be found, the early-access builds do not have many, and the ones that can be found tend to be very niche and hard to obtain.
To compare this game to another in its genre, Crab Champions shares similarities with Risk of Rain 2, and it is safe to say that most Hopoo fans will have a blast with games. Practically every totem found in CC has a direct counterpart to the shrines in RoR2, very fun movement-centered shooting with RoR2’s different classes being represented in CC’s variety of weaponry found at the lobby, and a niche multiplayer community with wonderful members and a very active Discord community, even used by the main (and sole) developer of the game.
Following the ever-refreshing trend of certain Indie games, Crab Champions is a spark of hope in a field where triple A games fail to deliver. I personally have loved this game, and am glad it is ready to grow even bigger as the developer diligently updates it around monthly, and honestly I cannot recommend it enough. Sadly this game does not have much of any pubblicity as it is more of a passion project that refused itself to be sold to potentially harmful pubblishers, even though now it feels the consequences in major lack of advertisement. Regardless, I look forward to see the game’s full release (although it already feels like it) and whatever will come in the future!