The saga of Cuphead and Mugman is coming to a close in this challenging DLC from Studio MDHR.
After almost ten years, Cuphead is finally meeting its conclusion. Following the original announcement of the game back in 2013, June 30 this year marks the release of The Delicious Last Course DLC, a post-launch lump of content whose name has a multitude of meanings. The "delicious" "course" aspect both applies to the narrative and story of the new adventure, and to add to this, the "last" aspect alludes to its finality, and the fact that this wraps up Studio MDHR's incredibly well-acclaimed title.
But this isn't just a half-arsed attempt to conclude something fantastic. No. Studio MDHR is going out with a bang by serving up a new array of content that is deeper, more challenging, overflowing with charisma, and still endlessly entertaining. I know this because I've been playing The Delicious Last Course over the past few days, and I am very impressed with what it's served up. But before I delve into what makes The Delicious Last Course so brilliant, let me give you a quick rundown of the story and where it's taking the porcelain protagonists of Cuphead and Mugman.
This DLC starts towards the beginning of the base game, right after you complete the first Mausoleum encounter and get a message from the Legendary Chalice that is found within. It's here that you are coaxed to take a boat ride to a nearby Inkwell Isle to help the Chalice (who just so happens to be Ms. Chalice) escape the corporeal tricky situation she finds herself in. You learn that the way to solve this problem revolves around gathering ingredients to create a special sweet treat that can return a spirit back to its physical form, but the catch in typical Cuphead fashion, is that these ingredients are held by the island's toughest adversaries, beings that you'll need to slug it out with across a variety of demanding, colourful, and unique boss fight scenarios. Essentially, it's a similar deal to the main storyline, except you're trading soul collection for the Devil for ingredient collection for Chef Saltbaker.
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You might be wondering how Ms. Chalice is playable if she's stuck in a spectral form. Well, thanks to a handy cookie, you can swap Ms. Chalice out for either Cuphead or Mugman for the duration of a boss encounter, meaning you can use this new character - who has an extra life, a special dodge move, double jump, and a unique super ability, albeit at the price of losing a Charm slot - whenever you so please.
For those who fancy sticking with Cuphead or Mugman, The Delicious Last Course does add an array of new Charms that change the attacks of the main duo, Charms that you can acquire by spending Gold Coins at Porkrind's Emporium on the island. While a lot of these attack methods feel quite situational in my experience, the fact that you can take them back to the base game whenever you see fit, makes them endlessly more useful and important to pick up.
But anyway, what makes The Delicious Last Course so brilliant you ask? This DLC is a clear step-up in quality to what was delivered in the base game. That's not to say the base experience was bad or lacking at all. Rather this is just much better. For example, bosses now have more phases and more unique attacks that you have to learn and overcome. You could argue that this makes the game a bigger challenge to overcome, and it does, as you will fail a lot. Like a lot. But with that challenge comes a level of reward for understanding and overcoming each boss set in front of you, something that Cuphead has really nailed unlike any other game out there.
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I say this as this is a title that is still fast-paced and thoroughly quick. That means the combat is relentless and demands maximum focus and your devoted attention, else the countless stray projectiles and hazards that grace your screen will ensure you make little to no progress. But, at the same time, the boss fights are only short themselves, and can be bested in a couple of minutes, meaning you never feel like you're really having to repeat yourself or massively suffering from failure, as you can simply just hit retry and dive back in without having to wait much time at all. And this is a welcome design, as in The Delicious Last Course, due to the expanded level of quality, you will be met with more danger, more to have to watch out for, and more to admire, thanks to the many unique phases that each boss throws at you.
Take Glumstone The Giant in the gameplay clip above. Right off the bat you can see the sheer amount of projectiles that this boss throws at you, despite the fact that it's one of the first you will face in the entire DLC. And just when you think you have him completely figured out, he changes up his attack style and the stage you're fighting on significantly, and then again just to add salt to the wound. It's incredibly tasking to overcome, but when you do, you'll be met with a grin that stretches from one side of your face to the other, something that I rarely experience in video games, and in The Delicious Last Course, it happens every time I take down a boss.
That's not to say it's all sunshine and rainbows though, because it really isn't. The enhanced level of difficulty makes for an often complex relationship, one where you will want to put your fist through your TV or gaming monitor more times than you'd like to admit, and more times than you would have wanted to in the base game. But, if you can control your emotions then it's clear that what Studio MDHR has served up is the best of Cuphead yet, which is what makes it sad that it's over.
But perhaps that's a good thing, because this is a fantastic exit for a fantastic game. You couldn't ask for a much better DLC or extra lump of content, as it ticks all the right boxes. New unique foes. Check. Timeless and vibrant art style. Check. Brilliant soundtrack. Check. It isn't for everyone, that's for certain, but returning Cuphead fans will no doubt fall in love with what Studio MDHR has offered up in The Delicious Last Course.
9 / 10
New bosses and combat scenarios are significantly deeper and more engaging. Ms. Chalice is a fantastic addition as a playable character. Art style and soundtrack is still timeless. Relentlessly charming.
Demanding nature knocks its level of accessibility. Really isn't for everyone.