Crab God review – A light strategy game teeming with life

Crab God invites you to protect and grow a flock of tiny crablings, and the egg of their new ruler.
crab god pc review

The more you think about the ocean, the more horrifying it seems. Not only is it filled with millions of tiny creatures of all sorts, there’s even greater depths to the ocean that humans have never reached. Countless species that are yet to be discovered, and many that may never be. The ocean can be beautiful – but also terrifying, and unknowable. Crab God, the latest title from Chaos Theory Games, plays with these concepts well.

In Crab God, you are the unseen god of flock of tiny crablings – little creatures that resemble crabs, each with their own unique skills, personalities, and jobs. These cutesy critters are at the mercy of the ocean tides, and must protect their future (in the form of an egg), by migrating to new ocean depths.

It’s in this migration that Crab God introduces layers of complexity and strategy. You must make clever choices to keep your migration advancing, and particularly in the roles of your flock. You’ll start building your crabling family slowly, with only a few eggs, and must determine which roles to place your crabs in to ensure the smoothest descent, and the most hopeful future.

To grow coral that will improve your ecosystem, you’ll need gardener crabs. But you’ll need a worshipper crab to gain favour with the Crab God, who determines what crops can be planted. You’ll also need a scavenger crab to hunt food which will cover all crablings for a new migration, further into the ocean depths. The deeper you travel, the more you’ll need to rely on your hunter and builder crabs, to stave off advances from terrifying ocean beasts (water spiders like the Darkmitt, and creepy crawly starfish).

Protecting your flock and appeasing the Crab God

crab god gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

Each level of Crab God operates as a puzzle-like biome. They all contain various hidden secrets to unlock, including the appearances of new fish, and special stones which can improve the overall abilities of your crabling herd. When night falls, your goal is to fend off attacks from enemies using weapons or unlocked abilities (like the ability to build a wall or traps). During the day, you’ll work to improve the biodiversity of your new home.

Depending on the speed of your food gathering, you can breeze through the early game stages – but as you head towards the end of your migration cycle, you’ll be making tenser decisions about what to spend time on, what plants to grow, and how to improve your crablings.

What begins as light strategy quickly evolves in the later stages of your first migration, with the final three depths of your journey presenting unique, complex challenges to overcome. In one particular stage, I found a large Ritual Stone that tasked me with having a certain amount of particular coral, and two types of sea creatures within my biome.

Those sea creatures relied on the appearance of other creatures, with the web of life connecting them all. What followed was a dance of resources – cutting coral, planting new coral, buffing the population of sea snails and anglerfish, and working for hours to stabilise my environmental system. I was enraptured by this process, and lost time to upgrading plants, and ensuring my crabling home was teeming with fish of all sorts.

crab god review
Screenshot: GamesHub

And then, when my job was done and the special Ritual Stone was ready for cleansing, I found a lovely reward. In developing Crab God, Chaos Theory Games partnered with tech company to translate gameplay into real-world environmental impact. Cleansing the Ritual Stone meant I was suddenly presented with an option: to help save the turtles, clean the oceans of plastic, or help the growth of animal habitat – all in real life.

After hours spent fostering the ecosystems within Crab God, my efforts translated to supporting a worthy real world cause. And that’s Crab God in a nutshell. While it’s a light, strategy-focussed sim where you guide tiny critters as an ocean god, it also educates about pressing issues, and the nature of the ocean – its ecosystem, its dangers, and how humans can help.

Every move you make has a tangible reaction in your crabling colony – more coral means your biomes are more inviting to certain sea creatures. High populations attract their own predators and pals, until your sea beds are flooded with tiny, beady eyes, and swishing fins. The individual roles of your crablings also speak to colony management, and how sea creatures organise to protect their eggs.

You can certainly take the game at face value, and find a well-designed management sim with a strong impetus for growth and pushing forward, and significant replayability, but there’s also many deep layers in Crab God, and a depth far beneath its surface.

Chaos Theory Games has made a name for its educational approach to games, with many of its projects being under the “serious games” label. Crab God is a happy medium, combining more “mainstream” strategy gameplay with a strong underlying message about the importance of biodiversity, and protecting the oceans we rely on. It’s a funny, engaging little sim game, but one that shares a deeper message we should all take time to absorb.

Four stars: ★★★★

Crab God
Platform(s): PC
Developer: Chaos Theory Games
Publisher: Firesquid
Release Date: 20 June 2024

A PC code for Crab God was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are scored on a five-point scale.

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.