I was a much different person when the Cuphead DLC was first announced back in June of 2018, slated to release in 2019. That was four years ago. What hasn’t changed in that time has been my love of Cuphead. The run-and-gun boss rush with nail-biting difficulty and a beautifully faithful 30s cartoon style has had me captivated since it’s release in 2017 and has remained a favourite of mine.
Now in 2022, the Delicious Last Course has finally released – and this DLC is worth it’s wait in gold.
The Delicious Last Course adds a brand new Isle of content to the game. This content not only includes a map full of NPCs and Secrets with an additional gauntlet of parrying challenges to replace the game’s usual Mausoleum segments, but also an additional 7 new bosses that are just as beautifully drawn as their base game counterparts, if not even more wonderfully put together. Despite the masterful imitation of 30s-era ‘rubber hose’ animation in the base game, the DLC builds on this with even more impressive artwork; there are more instances of bosses that leap out into the foreground and additional stop-motion animation beyond the rotating models of the base game. The music, too, is improved, with a greater variety of instrumentation and songs that better fit their respective boss. The presentation has remained an utterly faithful homage that is a veritable feast for the eyes and ears.
The gameplay remains the same challenging, fair and ruthlessly rewarding run-and-gun boss rush as the base game. It remains fresh, however, thanks to a variety of new powerups, weapons, secrets and a brand new character in the form of Ms. Chalice. She can be used as an ability, taking up a charm slot, replacing the character you were already playing as. She has an additional point of health, a double jump, an invincibility roll and a parry dash. Her move-set is certainly impressive enough to be worth taking up a charm slot and her dash proves indispensable in the King’s Leap parry gauntlet. I didn’t end up using her much in the main boss fights due to being set in my ways with the Smoke Bomb charm. Still, she’s a fun addition to the experience and great for newer player to learn the ropes.
The new bosses are absolutely fantastic, each one brimming with personality and unique attack patterns – each feeling holistic with the base game yet so inexorably new. Their difficulty averages out to be in line with the rest of the bosses, though a few are on the easier side, whilst a good number are especially difficult (especially the final boss!). One criticism of the boss design in this DLC that I do have is the bullet hell design philosophy. There’s nothing wrong with bullet hell and it is actually extremely satisfying when conquered with a successful set of jumps and dashes, but it feels like a number of bosses in the DLC spam the screen with a number of moving parts greater than just about any base game boss. It’s not a major concern with a few pulling this off quite well, but they are occasional bouts of frustration spawned from this cluttering, despite an otherwise fair challenge. Other than this small criticism, each boss is a wonderfully challenging experience that is fair in difficulty and immensely rewarding with Cuphead’s seamless controls and varied arsenal allowing for great choice in solving the puzzles posed by each opponent.
In conclusion, Cuphead’s Delicious Last Course is a masterclass in videogame DLC. Choc-a-bloc with new content built off the fantastic base game, the add-on is an artistic marvel with delightful animation and music alongside a brilliant variety of new challenges. Its additional charms and weapons are a great boost to your arsenal that prove themselves as useful in the base game as they are in the DLC. The map and bosses are full of secrets and opportunities to explore with a gauntlet of unique parrying challenges that perfectly complete this send off to a masterpiece of a game. I cannot recommend it highly enough for any fan of the style or of a tough but fair gaming challenge. I await in anticipation for what Studio MDHR does next.