The wonderfully vibrant art style of Cuphead is so timeless that returning to the brutal run and gunner almost five years after its release (two years for PS4 players) doesn't feel anywhere close to a step back in time. It's still a looker, and still hard as ever. It's that difficulty that fans will need to reacquaint themselves with as they return to the title with Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course at the end of this month, which represents the only expansion to the base game — even if it's arriving nearly half a decade later.
A recent online presentation provided us with a very brief glimpse of The Delicious Last Course (DLC, get it?), which, for starters, revealed a number of key details. Releasing on 30th June 2022, it will cost £6.79/$7.99. The new content ships as a PS4 version; there is no native PS5 edition in the works, StudioMDHR confirmed to us. Access to the new Inkwell Isle is granted after beating at least one Mausoleum, and while your overall playtime will depend on your skill level, you should expect the DLC to last somewhere in the region of three to four hours.
That's because The Delicious Last Course is pitched as a "depth expansion, not a breadth expansion". It's about adding more quality rather than content for the sake of it — something StudioMDHR says is reflected in the soundtrack. After "pummeling the depths of the 1930s," it has a new track list that's "shorter but denser". There's also a new character to play as: Ms Chalice.
With a double jump and more moves to utilise during combat, she is an option that represents a clear upgrade over Cuphead and Mugman (both are still playable in the DLC, though). However, StudioMDHR stresses she shouldn't be seen as an easy mode — her moveset will simply be advantageous in specific situations.
Upon arriving on the new Inkwell Isle, it's your job to help The Legendary Chalice escape the astral plane by collecting ingredients for Chef Saltbaker, who will make a magical to dish to make her whole once more. These ingredients are, of course, guarded by the bosses located across the new playing field.
The new island is free for you to explore, which is said to be the biggest yet along with more secrets to find. In fact, the studio stressed that our short peek at The Delicious Last Course only scratched the surface of the treasures hidden within. StudioMDHR really wants you to "plumb the depths of the game", and a new set of Trophies will promote that.
Boss fights are the name of the game in Cuphead, though, and this expansion has them in abundance. What the team has really focused on this time is increasing the frames of animation during such encounters. One example of this commitment is that single boss phases have more animated frames in them than entire boss fights from the base game. This is perhaps most notable during stage transformations, which are very impressive this time around. Our preview focused on just one boss, but leaving the ground to fight the baddie up in the sky was mesmerising.
Most interestingly, the side-scrolling run and gun levels that broke up boss battles won't appear at all in The Delicious Last Course. StudioMDHR had "other creative ideas" it wished to implement, and so it came up with a set of specific challenges for you to complete. They are seen as "a fresh experience" that add "tremendously to the DLC".
Finally, all the weapons, Charms, and mechanics from the DLC can be carried back over into the original game. Ms Chalice's abilities and moveset can be used to take down the bosses you've fought over and over again while fast travel has also been implemented to make it much easier to get from one Inkwell Isle to another. Although, no changes have been made to the base game itself. "We didn't want to get back in and make specific changes to levels and bosses. We kind of love the game as is," said StudioMDHR.
So, while it has a new character to play as alongside new features and items here and there, The Delicious Last Course is more Cuphead. The difficult boss fights are back, complete with all the visual spectacle and charismatic flair you have come to expect.
StudioMDHR wants to pursue new games and other visual styles for the future, but come the end of the month, its fans have one final course to savour. With strawberry sauce and chocolate sprinkles on top, The Delicious Last Course likely will live up to its name. Delicious, but deadly.
Are you looking forward to returning to Cuphead with The Delicious Last Course? Let us know in the comments below.