It has been five years since Studio MDHR released Cuphead: a charming yet brutally challenging platformer sporting a striking graphical aesthetic inspired by cartoons of the 1930s. Shortly after release, Studio MDHR announced a DLC add-on for the game, aptly titled Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course, and subsequently delayed it for several years. Four years later, The Delicious Last Course is ready to serve, bringing forth some of the most challenging bosses in the Cuphead lineup, an animation feast, and new gameplay treats packed inside one tasty package.
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As players sink their teeth into The Delicious Last Course, it slowly becomes apparent that this DLC prioritizes quality over quantity. The Delicious Last Course can take about four to five hours to accomplish a complete playthrough depending on player skill. It features one new location, five unique bosses, and one new character as the expansion’s main attractions. However, each new element in the DLC has a remarkable level of depth, and it is unmistakable that The Delicious Last Course prefers to add fewer, more profound elements rather than multiple shallow ones.
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The Delicious Last Course takes players to a new location, Inkwell Isle 4, easily accessible early on in the base game or at any of the game’s three Mausoleums. Inkwell Isle 4 is a smaller area compared to Cuphead’s other three Inkwell Isles but features a host of visually diverse environments ranging from snowy mountain tops to dusty deserts. Accompanying Cuphead and Mugman are a small cast of side characters that flesh out the world and make it feel a little more lively.
The Delicious Last Course introduces a new playable character in the form of Ms. Chalice. Once a side character throughout the base game’s Mausoleums and now fully fleshed out with a unique set of moves. Ms. Chalice is on a mission to bring her spirit form back to the physical realm by using a ‘Wondertart’ which can only be created by defeating each of the expansion’s main bosses. With the help of Cuphead and Mugman and the Astral Cookie charm, which allows players to take on the role of Ms. Chalice, players can establish Ms. Chalice’s physical form once again. It is a simple story that features some charming cutscenes but the core of the DLC still lies in the rigorous platforming and boss battles fans have come to enjoy.
Where players will find that The Delicious Last Course expands on Cuphead the most is in its gameplay. Ms. Chalice brings a breath of fresh air to the movement mechanics that fans have grown accustomed to and contrasts the stiffer gameplay of Cuphead and Mugman in the base game. Ms.Chalice has an inherent double jump, a parry dash, a slide dodge that grants a moment of brief invincibility, and an extra HP point. All of here tools create a gameplay experience that feels much more flexible and accessible. On paper, Ms. Chalice may seem like a character that detracts from the challenge of Cuphead; however, her skillset works more as an alternate approach to gameplay rather than acting as any sort of ‘easy mode.’ The Delicious Last Course’s brutally challenging boss fights require a high skill level that is not easily remedied by adding a double jump or dodge roll.
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Cuphead’s standard ‘Run and Gun’ courses are absent from The Delicious Last Course, but some of the best boss fights in the game stand in their place. Studio MDHR has stated that the design philosophy behind the DLC is for every boss to “play like a final boss,” and the team excellently executes on that promise. Bosses contain multiple unique attacks, animations, and moving obstacles that were hand-drawn and masterfully compiled into the final product. A single phase of a boss fight can have more moving parts and animations than whole battles in the base game, and the difficulty level for each boss matches that same level of depth and complexity.
Bosses range from three to four unique phases depending on the difficulty level, and no two bosses play alike or pull the same trick twice. Esther Winchester requires skillful maneuvering of Ms. Chalice in an almost bullet-hell-like combat scenario throughout an arena that moves at breakneck speeds. The Howling Aces take players for a loop by playing with the screen orientation in an almost vertigo-inducing dog fight. Every boss in the expansion has something new and exciting to see and experience. Fans craving the challenge only a Cuphead boss can deliver will surely be pleased with the lineup presented in The Delicious Last Course.
However, bosses are not the only main draw of The Delicious Last Course. Much like the Mausoleums of the base Cuphead game, the DLC features ‘King’s Leap’ challenge rooms that strip the player of their shooting ability and offer rigorous platforming and parry-based challenge bosses. These tricky arenas are varied, each one featuring a unique gimmick that is up to the player to decipher and are just as fiendish as the main boss fights. They serve as an excellent palette cleanser between the frenzied shooting and dodging matches of the main boss fights.
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The Delicious Last Course also packs a whole host of new items containing exciting secrets and new ways to play the game. The Crackshot weapon, in particular, is of great help for players who may be struggling and require a homing missile advantage. Homing projectile weapons are not new to Cuphead, but the Crackshot does feel like another step forward in player accessibility due to its excellent damage output. One of the most notable items is the Broken Relic, a mysterious object with its own side quest puzzle for players to decipher and also holds a nifty reward for those who would like to dig into every corner of The Delicious Last Course. As mentioned previously, The Delicious Last Course isn’t incredibly expansive, but it’s in these clever items that the DLC finds its cherry on top and makes the whole experience feel complete.
Bringing everything together is the visual and auditory experience, which is just as impressive as ever. Part of the reason for The Delicious Last Course’s delay is that Studio MDHR meticulously hand draws every frame in the game, and it is a process that takes a considerable amount of work. It was time well spent. Backgrounds are more dynamic than the base game, breathing an abundance of life into an already lively-looking game. Scene composition changes and boss animations flow into one another so fluidly and so well that it is almost hard to believe everything in Cuphead was truly hand-drawn.
Complimenting the art style of The Delicious Last Course is the original soundtrack, offering new tunes that are both catchy and frenetic. Kristofer Maddigan, the composer of Cuphead, returns for this DLC, and his work continues to impress, expanding the game’s sonic palette with a dive into new genres. The Delicious Last Course’s old-school analog sound and 1930s cartoon aesthetic come together for one final dance to construct a beautiful-looking and sounding game that is still unlike anything else in the gaming landscape.
While short, The Delicious Last Course certainly does not lack in quality and depth. It fine-tunes the best parts of Cuphead with its captivating art style and challenging boss battles while also providing deep and meaningful additions to the game with new weapons, items, and gameplay mechanics. The Delicious Last Course condenses everything that made the base game so triumphant into one package and adds a few finishing touches to make this a proper send-off for Cuphead and Mugman after half a decade in the spotlight. Its title rings true to its nature; it is a delicious last course.
Cuphead is available now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. The Delicious Last Course launches on June 30, 2022. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.
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