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Crab Champions Early Access Review: Meme Game or Real Potential?

No matter how weird it may seem, this game will blow your mind!

DISCLOSURE: This game was reviewed on the following platform: PC! In addition, the game’s in an “Early Access” state, and was reviewed accordingly. – Check out our Review Policy page for more information.

If you spent any time on the internet in 2018 and after, you most likely heard of the popular meme song Crab Rave. Initially released as an April Fool’s joke by the artist Noisestorm, the song gained massive popularity, and the traction was primarily credited to its absurd music video. It was an absolute hit!

Origin

The song itself was a blast – upbeat, with a long buildup, and a sick drop that became a meme sensation – but the video was key for Crab Champions. All of it was made single handedly by Noisestorm, and the video was made entirely in Unreal Engine 4 (UE4). This made it logical to turn the hit into a video game, as UE4 already had all the tools Noisestorm needed for the job.

The infamous song that started it all.

He is a fully solo game developer, so this took a very long time. After 3 full years in development, he was finally ready to release the action-packed meme masterpiece Crab Champions, in its Early Access stage.

Released on the 1st of April (2023), barely 5 days ago at the time of writing, Crab Champions has gathered 2700+ Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam. Since then, its stats skyrocketed, with its all-time concurrent players peak reaching almost 8000 players. This put the game on rank #34 Top Seller on Steam, and it’s unlikely to stop there.

Crabs.

The choice of genre Noisestorm chose to go with is very interesting, to say the least.

The game consists of 3 main modes, and these essentially decide what genre the gameplay is going to fit.

  1. Survival (Co-Op PvE 1-4 Players )
    The survival mode is essentially a rogue-like third-person shooter mode. If Crab Rave had a child with Risk of Rain 2, this game would be it.
    In this mode, player(s) progresses through increasingly difficult maps – islands filled with all sorts of monsters that’re out to get you – with the help of perks and power-ups that’re purchased along the way. As you make progress, you gain crystals – a form of currency – that you can then use to buy the aforementioned bonuses. Every island has dozens of mobs and at least 1 boss.
Choose your perks carefully – as you get stronger, bosses do as well!
  1. Racing (1-4 Players)
    The second mode is precisely what the name suggests: a racing mode.
    Grab your friends or go solo, and start sliding! The focus of this mode is to get through maps, and do it as soon as humanly (crabbably..?) possibleto set a new record. Keep breaking your own records and those of your friends, or just run around and have fun in this fast-paced mode. There are no weapons whatsoever in this mode, and there are no mobs either.
Need For Speed: Crabon…? No? Okay…
  1. Duel (1-6 Players PvP)
    Suit up – solo, with friends, or with bots – and get ready for a brawl! Duel is a PvP mode with 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 options. Whichever you choose, you spawn onto an island designated for you and your enemies. Movement, aim, shields and overall timing are all key ingredients for success in this dynamic and exciting mode. If you’re the competitive type, you’ll love this one!
It’s time to d-d-d-d-d-d-d-duel!

More Crabs!

When it comes to graphics, the Crab Champions is an absolute banger.


Visually, the game is very smooth and appealing, especially when you consider the fact that it’s made entirely by a solo developer. Hardly any new release, indie or not, looks nearly as polished as Noisestorm made his masterpiece of a game look. More biome diversity could be added to keep things fresh for the eyes, but that is not for a lack of trying, it’s simply very early on.

Unlike New World, Crab Champions actually bothered to make water functional.

Many new maps, biomes, and other things have been announced, and should be delivered within a year or two, after which the game should go live as a full release. Exciting!

Even More Crabs?!

Movement – everyone’s blown away by it, so let’s talk about it!

Speeding around the island feels absolutely amazing, every little animation like jumping and dashing is very cleanly made, and generally the movement feels very responsive.
Whichever mode you find yourself in, you’ll find that you’re moving around a lot, therefore movement being as fluid as it is matters more than anything.

Even parkour made the cut – it’s implemented as a part of the racing mode.

You will get motion sick, but you are going to love it regardless. If raining bullets, rockets, and chaos on groups of enemies isn’t fun enough to make up for it, nothing is!

You Guessed It – More Crabs!

Combat is another wonderfully executed aspect of Crab Champions.

When you shoot, things will die. You may even feel like you’re too strong at times, as mobs need time to ramp up and actually start dealing serious damage, but once they do… oh boy. It’s not at all uncommon to get randomly one-shotted by a mob standing a mile away, especially later into the game, and especially if you don’t opt for some defensive perks.

Something I noticed on my not-at-all-short session of Crab Champions is that range in the game does not seem to matter nearly as much as it does in other games, similar or not. You can shoot a shotgun at close range or medium, it will deal the same damage. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as nobody likes shooting confetti out of their shotgun, despite the target being literally meters away…

Coconut bazooka?! Count me in.

A potential downside is that certain perks feel way more powerful than others, and that the tradeoffs are often unbalanced too. Some power-ups are incredibly strong on purpose, because in return you also lose certain stats (or similar) – the benefit of these sometimes far outweighs the cons, meaning that exploits and crazy stuff like that could become a problem at some point. Maybe though, just like in Risk of Rain 2, the developer decides to allow and even encourage game-breaking builds, and have fun with it.

Crabclusion

Crab Champions Early Access Review

Milan Solarov

Movement
Graphics
Combat
Crab Points

Summary

Crab Champions, in the opinion of many, ticks all the boxes. The soundtrack is on point, the visuals polished and colorful, movement could not feel better, and combat is super intense! While perks could become a problem in terms of balancing, there is a lot of room forcompetitive (ranked) elements to be implemented, so the future is certainly bright for Noisestorm and his Crab masterpiece.

4.4

ALSO READ: Smalland: Survive The Wilds EARLY ACCESS Review – Smallfolk, Big trouble

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