Yep, it’s delicious
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course is finally here as a DLC sendoff for the indie darling — and the good news is that it’s more Cuphead.
Enough said. Mostly!
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course (PC [reviewed], PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X)
Developer: Studio MDHR
Publisher: Studio MDHR
Released: June 30, 2022
To make it easier to convey what this expansion-like DLC entails, we’ll break things down into two main categories.
A new character (Chalice) and some items
So one big part of the DLC is the addition of items (mostly in the form of charms), and the character of Chalice: a third playable character that’s essentially an extension of the charm system.
To be clear, you can “morph” into Chalice as one of the two main characters (Cuphead or Mugman) by equipping a special charm. While it does take up the charm slot, Chalice comes with her own set of skills, including a parry dash (literally it’s a parry doubling as a dash, more on that in a second), a double jump (like, a passive double jump, no big deal), and a dodge roll (that has invincibility, or iFrames). As you can imagine, it’s kind of a huge deal and changes the way you approach every single boss in the game — old content included.
Chalice actually ended up being one of the most significant things about The Delicious Last Course for me when all was said and done. While the developers stopped short of calling her an “easy mode” when I talked to them pre-launch, she’s definitely going to feel that way to some people. Making her a charm that can be swapped out at any time if it gets to be too much is a smart move, but Chalice is a ton of fun in any context and I’m glad she’s in the game as-is. Full stop, I enjoyed the run & gun platforming stages (which the DLC has none of, to be clear) immensely more using her.
The new shop items, like the Heart Ring charm, where you gain health after specific successful parry intervals, continue to inject more viable strategies into Cuphead as a whole. A few of them seem insignificant, but when combined with certain strategies and playstyles, they allow more options to blossom — which is really the core of Cuphead, figuring out puzzles in unique ways.
The meat of the meal: new bosses
Suffice to say it’s really hard to openly talk about the specifics of a lot of bosses without outright ruining them. It’s Cuphead. That’s kind of the whole thing. So I won’t!
But I will say that the bosses themselves are fantastic, and true to form to how the game was built to this point from a mechanical standpoint. From a raw aesthetic point of view, they’re a straight-up step up. Several of them have absolutely bizarre scene transitions that warranted an outright out-loud gasp or belly laugh. Given the surprises the original had up its sleeve years ago, it’s nice to see that Studio MDHR still has the ability to surprise me.
One stage (featuring the “Moonshine Mob”) really grew on me, with several very interesting phase transitions and an incredible marriage of music and visuals — even surpassing most of what the game had achieved thus far. You can really tell how the team put some extra seasoning on the visual style and the individual details for these new fights. Again, there are no run & gun platforming stages per se, but there is a set of “challenge rooms” that gets straight to the point, and will force you to master the parry system if you haven’t already.
Last month, the team said that they want “every boss to feel like a final Cuphead boss,” and that’s kind of an overstatement. I wouldn’t say that most of what the DLC has to offer is significantly harder than some of the later challenges in the base game; which is a good thing, as there’s really no reason for that to be the case. Now, like any boss rush-focused project, some folks might disagree. But “somewhere in the latter half of the original in terms of a challenge” is a sweet spot for me.
It was so easy to just get swept up into Cuphead again because of all of the love and care that was put into these bosses. None of them felt phoned in.
You will need to be aware that not much has fundamentally changed when it comes to the framework of the game. Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course still has the “simple” difficulty (that you can select for each individual boss before taking them on) that makes things easier, and excises an entire boss phase. It’s still great for learning the core concepts of a boss in a less intense setting. However, you will need to finish every boss on standard difficulty to see the ending — so if that was a turnoff, it’s still present/unshakable.
After all these years there still isn’t anything quite like Cuphead. I wish that we got more than a few hours’ worth of stuff, but the nature of The Delicious Last Course augmenting the original game means that it’ll impact every timeless future playthrough. If you hated the game before, the DLC won’t do much to change your mind. If you loved it, you should probably pick it up immediately.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]