I knew this underwater Dark Souls would be my Steam Next Fest highlight - and then I found the grappling hook

Another Crab's Treasure
(Image credit: AGGRO CRAB)

Steam Next Fest is upon us, and the spectre of Dark Souls is hovering firmly over the entire affair. There are no fewer than 20 demos sitting under the Souls-like tag, from 2D, Salt and Sanctuary-esque efforts like The Last Faith to traditional-yet-catgirlified games like Kristala. But there's one game that I've had my eyes on for a while already, and having now played its demo, I'm more excited for it than ever.

Another Crab's Treasure puts an underwater spin on Dark Souls, casting you not as a Chosen Undead but as a homeless hermit crab trying to buy back their repossessed shell. I'll admit that it was the parodical approach to the genre that first drew me to the game, but I was immediately impressed by the demo. There's surprising depth to this underwater affair that runs through its entire world; in spite of Another Crab's Treasure's obvious sense of humor, a lot of the mystery that Elden Ring and Dark Souls thrive on is here, and while the combat doesn't quite hold up to the industry-leading efforts that FromSoftware has spent decades perfecting, there's are a lot of tools to play with.

At the core of combat is your shell. You can scavenge human detritus from the seafloor to offer a bit of protection, and perhaps a helping hand in a fight. Duck into your 'shell' to dodge an attack, and it'll soak up damage, perhaps with an extra effect. A bottle cap will tank a single hit before breaking, as will a shot glass, but the latter will leave shards of glass around when it breaks. An old tin can be electrified to deal damage to nearby foes, while a fizzy drink container can be depressurized to create a minefield that slows advancing enemies. I'm yet to nail the timing that allows me to absorb a hit every time, but it's a smart system that lets you play around to develop your own advantage against different enemies.

It pales in comparison, however, to my favorite thing about Another Crab's Treasure: the grappling hook. Initially, I thought it was just a traversal tool, a means for jumping from place to place in a handful of prescripted locations - an admittedly entertaining activity given your hermit crab's ability to swim a brief distance through the air, but not exactly heavy on the improvisation. 

I couldn't have been more wrong. During the second part of the demo, I inadvertently hit the grapple button and found it locking on to a nearby enemy. I launched my harpoon and quickly found my once-formidable foe yanked towards me, crab legs flailing as he turtled on the ground in front of me. From there, it took little time to finish him off and to secure Another Crab's Treasure as a highlight of Next Fest. My new toy seems so powerful that it might have slightly unbalanced the entire game, but you'll be glad to know that not every foe can be grappled, and boss fights maintain a good level of grapple-free difficulty. 

I've only seen a small slice of Another Crab's Treasure so far, but I'm increasingly keen to check out the full game. For now, you can follow up on my misadventures by downloading the demo, available as part of Steam Next Fest until the end of the week.

The most popular game in Steam Next Fest is a Valheim-style survival game with Dark Souls-style bosses.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.