Review: Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

The long-awaited Delicious Last Course DLC for Cuphead is finally available to play. Considering how acclaimed the original run-and-gun/boss rush action game was, it’s unsurprising that anticipation might be high. In fact, we’ve waited just as long for the DLC as we have for the regular game after it was announced. And in that time, Cuphead has arguably become a bit of a pop culture phenomenon, spread across an animated series, comics, books, merchandise and more. So even with the knowledge that all we’re getting on the surface is one more set of levels, it’s hard not to feel like this should be one rather epic, filling dish to serve as the perfect end to this massive meal. So does this new expansion satisfy our tastes or does it go down rather bitter?

The Delicious Last Course is first accessed after you’ve beaten the initial Mausoleum level in the first part of the Inkwell Isles, at which point a mysterious boatman offers to take you on a quest to a whole new isle at the request of The Legendary Chalice. As it turns out, they’ve been looking for a way to escape from the Astral Plane for some time now, and thanks to a batch of magical cookies from one Chef Saltbaker, they’ve found a way to return as Ms. Chalice…by swapping places with the soul of Cuphead or Mugman. For a permanent solution, Saltbaker needs them to gather the ingredients to create the Wondertart, which will allow Ms. Chalice to come back to life for good. Of course, the ingredients just so happen to currently belong to some rather nasty foes, so its up to our crew to take them down and help out Ms. Chalice…

Ms. Chalice (it’s never explained why they return as a younger version of themselves) is easily one of the biggest draws of The Delicious Last Course, adding not only an entirely new playable character to the mix, but one with their own unique set of abilities, including a double jump, parrying dash and dodge roll. The trade-off is that they can’t equip any additional charms like Cuphead and Mugman can, as they need either one to equip the aforementioned cookies as a charm in order to play as them. It’s more than worth it, though, as the new abilities are a blast to play with, subtle touches that can help out with certain boss battles new and old.

While I was looking forward to taking on all of the new bosses as Ms. Chalice, though, I feared that I may have gotten rusty, not helped that I had to play the DLC on a different platform than I originally had, meaning I was starting from square one. So I suspected a challenge was ahead, but I set out, initially defeated a few Inkwell Isles I bosses to get to the Mausoleum, gathered a few coins along the way, then after getting into the DLC, I immediately headed to Porkrind’s shop after the introduction, and noticed the crop of new weapons and charms to try out. On a whim, I decided to purchase the new Crackshot weapon, equipped it, entered the first boss battle…

…and then immediately proceeded to win the game.

Yeah…maybe my Cuphead skills haven’t actually rusted, or I’m just naturally good, but given how often I died during the original game, I sort of doubt that. Instead, the Crackshot just feels ridiculously overpowered. How it’s described as is that it fires out a bullet in a straight line before splintering off into a smaller bullet that deals less damage. In the field, what it does is fire out one bullet a short distance before immediately homing in directly at the nearest enemy in a flash (seemingly quicker than the regular homing weapon), and if it does deal less damage then, it was barely noticeable. The other weapons were cool, one firing groups of other bullets and the other having a more powerful three-way shot that you can charge, but with the Crackshot, I basically felt no need to switch to them, as it was killing enemies without Ms. Chalice even looking at them.

And I know what some people might think: “well, why not just not use the Crackshot?” Well, for one, that’s like coming across a room filled with several dozen BFGs in a Doom game and deciding not to use them for some insane reason. And second, while an overpowered weapon may be a flaw, it never stopped The Delicious Last Course from being fun. Heck, it didn’t even stop things from being challenging. After all, the big joy in Cuphead comes from the blend of its Fleischer-era cartoon aesthetics and a crop of innovative, multi-phase boss battles that can put up an epic fight. And if that’s what you came here for, then this will not disappoint.

The five bosses (plus final boss) making up this Isle are another motley bunch of colorful characters, ranging from huge, hand puppet-wielding giants to a whole prohibition-era gang of insect and arachnid gangsters to a WWII-style canine pilot crew the battles you in the sky. Aside from having amazing and memorable designs (except certain fan art of certain characters to have already hit the internet by the time you read this), they also have a good chunk of unique tricks to use in battle, including fake-outs, gravity screws, multi-level platforming challenges and more. It’s a terrific blend of various tactics that keep you on your toes and have you dying over and over while learning more about each pattern and attack, delivering battles that smoothly fit right along those in the base game.

Even with terrific boss fights, though (complete with even more of the stunning animation, wild expressions and style, and twisted sense of humor at times), The Delicious Last Course’s main story only clocked in at about three to four hours, with a majority of that mainly spent on the (rather frightening yet darkly comedic) final boss. Thankfully, the expansion also includes The King’s Leap, an additional set of five smaller chess-based boss battles to tackle, rewarding you with coins in lieu of the platforming levels from the other Isles and allowing for even more tricky yet enjoyable fights, especially as you can only use parries during them, no weapons or charms. Plus there’s a notable secret or two to be uncovered, one which may or may not carry over into the main game, but at least gives more hardcore players a reward. So there’s still a decent chunk of replay value here, making for a rather tasty Course overall.

Closing Comments:

The Delicious Last Course is a terrific post-meal snack to close out the lengthy Cuphead buffet, hindered only by a potentially game-breaking weapon and a relatively short length that leaves you wanting more. But the mixture of more incredible and well-crafted boss fights, a fun new playable character and several other memorable NPCs, new ways to battle, and tricks to discover all come together to still create a sweet delight that still the essence and flavor of the action-packed game. So even if it’s a quick bit of dessert, it is indeed still delicious, making for an add-on fans of the original need to check out.