Crab God preview – I will protect these crablings with my life

Crab God is an ocean management sim that tasks you with guiding and protecting a flock of tiny crablings.
crab god gameplay preview

Life is tough for the tiny little crablings of Crab God. Thrust into a harsh world of environmental decline, these tiny critters awake to find themselves in immediate need of food, shelter, and defence. Cracked from their eggs, they immediately take up their tools and head into the workforce, overseen by the watchful eye of the benevolent, giant Crab God.

In Crab God, you are the avatar of this spirit – a guiding hand to push the crablings along their journey, and help them towards their next migration point. You’ll set each crabling a task, and they’ll go about their daily routine, helping to gather food to bulk for a new migration, worshipping the crab god, defending their territory, and eventually, moving on.

The game’s Steam Next Fest demo revealed the first steps of this journey, with a lovely sense of adventure tagging along with each migration. As you build up your resources and strengthen your crablings, you’ll make your way to darker ocean depths, with each layer populated by new threats – requiring you to develop a strategy, and then re-develop it as new creatures threaten the sanctity of your peace.

With each level, your crablings will also gain new abilities – to speed up their movement, health, attack power, and other stats. Each given a name, so it’s not long before you’re leaning on your tiny hunter pal Snippy, and calling him your friend. The crablings in the game are adorable, and it’s easy to bond with them, and feel their plight.

It’s equally easy to feel their pain when a new, powerful enemy appears, and your hunter crablings are suddenly being attacked mercilessly. Leave them alone, they’re only tiny babies.

Screenshot: GamesHub

Crab God makes you want to do right by your crablings

Crab God is endearing by design, with each crabling being a cute companion that you want to protect. You’ll build your strategy to advance, but also because you want your crablings to be happy and safe. You flock will grow as you travel through the game’s migration map, too, so you’re always making room in your heart for new crabling friends.

Strategy systems do appear light-touch at first, with players taking an idle role in assigning crab roles and ensuring progress in each of the game’s biomes – but the further you travel, the more you’ll need to think about your choices.

While your ultimate goal is to protect the Crab God’s egg by migrating, and to migrate by collecting food, you’ll also need to consider training warriors to defend your colony’s borders at night. You’ll need to make room for gardeners to grow crops, for scavengers to farm those crops, and for worshippers to praise the Crab God, and keep it healthy and happy. Balance is key.

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There are elements of Cult of the Lamb is this approach – in that you’re essentially raising a flock of followers, and wielding their abilities to keep your migration goals afloat. There’s less of the cult part in this game, but you can expect similar management systems, and a similar sense of cutesy-horror.

As mentioned, the game’s crablings are completely adorable – but they’ll also face off with towering threats in their travels, including creepy, long-legged spiders and other horrors (which thankfully didn’t appear in my playthrough of the game’s demo – but will appear in the later stages of the game).

Image: Chaos Theory Games

As a taster, the Crab God Steam Next Fest demo is a lovely little slice of gameplay that reveals the neat tone of the game – cosy, cute, with a side of creepy – and gives ample insight into the the future journey of its crablings.

It’s also worth noting the demo revealed more about developer Chaos Theory Games’ intention for the game to make a real-world environmental impact. While cutesy and cute, Crab God has also been developed with research and care for real-world migration patterns, with a view to reflect the biodiversity of ocean biomes.

Chaos Theory has also partnered with for the release of this game – an organisation that works to plant trees, clean oceans, and protect wildlife by tracking virtual in-game milestones. When you boot up the demo, you’ll see a tracker that tells you the impact that players of Crab God have had on the environment, and what goals they’ve been able to hit.

“From the beginning, we wanted Crab God to positively impact the planet,” Nico King, Executive Creative Director at Chaos Theory told GamesHub of this initiative. “We decided early that we would be donating a portion of the game’s revenue to support conservation efforts. However, we wanted to ensure that the causes being supported were obvious to the player, and we ideally wanted to integrate them into gameplay.”

Even with its new Steam Next Fest demo, Crab God‘s environmental impact is already being felt – and that’s a lovely thing. Every time you hop into the game, you’ll be contributing to real-world environment change – so if you need an excuse to check it out, that’s the ticket.

A demo for Crab God is now available as part of Steam Next Fest.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.