Cuphead’s long-awaited and aptly named The Delicious Last Course serves up a wonderful final dish that acts more like a satisfying dessert than a full second helping. Though not long, it offers an enjoyable batch of devilish boss battles and a welcomed addition in the now playable Ms. Chalice.
Ms. Chalice sports a unique moveset such as a double-jump, a dodge roll that can safely bypass hazards, and even one extra health point. She’s a blast to use, and I loved taking advantage of her added maneuverability. Does she make Cuphead an easier experience? Somewhat, but she doesn’t turn the game into a cakewalk. Rather, she gives players more options to work with, which in a way makes her a more advanced character because of how I had to alter my playstyle to account for her new tricks.
I like that she subtly encourages aggression by having a dash parry instead of the jumping version, meaning I had to hurtle towards danger to repel offense skillfully. Her ultimate attack, a vertical energy column, requires getting up close and personal with foes, rewarding boldness with big hits. I also enjoyed taking Ms. Chalice through the base game and tackling familiar bosses with her unique traits. She provides newcomers a great alternative from the get-go while giving veterans a new way to topple familiar baddies. Ms. Chalice also makes the base game’s polarizing run-and-gun stages more tolerable.
It doesn’t matter how many jumps or hit points you have if you don’t know how to use them. The Delicious Last Course presents a platter of delightful yet demanding boss battles that, in most cases, pushed my skills to the brink. I highly recommend returning players warm up by replaying a boss or two in the base game before jumping into this expansion. Since you can access the DLC early, first-timers should at least complete the first island before tackling the new content.
From evading tennis balls and laser fire atop an airplane in a topsy-turvy dogfight to fending off sentient ice pops while fighting a snow wizard, these entertaining new foes relish in throwing everything everywhere all at once. I’d say they rank with the battles from Cuphead’s final third in terms of difficulty, as the challenge comes in parsing multiple projectiles and weaving between them while unleashing hell yourself. Design-wise, these adversaries match the whimsy of the original rogues gallery, and it’s just as fun (and stress-inducing) watching, for example, a gangster spider take on multiple new forms.
Only one boss has a final twist that felt more cheap than fun since it remaps the controls with little time to adjust. Skill matters most, but trial and error remains an occasionally frustrating element of the experience. Taking damage from a new attack I couldn’t have expected, like having a bad guy drop on my head without any indication on where it could arrive, is still annoying. But each opponent feels conquerable, no matter if you’re Ms. Chalice or Cuphead/Mugman.
Surprisingly, the revamped parry challenges became my favorite encounters of The Delicious Last Course. An evolution of the base game’s mausoleum mini-games, which were decent but one-note, this new take pits players against five unique bosses that can only be defeated by utilizing the parry move in increasingly creative ways. I loved flexing my platforming prowess and timing by carefully bouncing on the weak point of a horse knight or repelling severed heads back at an executioner. Most importantly, these levels forced me to think about how to attack. Any enemy in Cuphead can be dropped by holding down the fire button but figuring out different methods of using a defensive maneuver offensively became an exciting combat puzzle. Since The Delicious Last Course ditches platforming levels, these arena battles offer an awesome break from the primary confrontations. I’d love to see more of them.
Our heroes can outfit themselves with new powers, such as a lightning-flavored version of the spread shot or tornados that fire upwards, ideal for hitting airborne targets. My hands-down favorite became the Crackshot, powerful projectiles that break into smaller bullets that nail the nearest target. They fit well with the existing arsenal.
I’d be remiss not to mention the soundtrack. Cuphead has one of the best scores in modern gaming, and The Delicious Last Course carries that banner with some finger-wagging new tunes. The new main menu theme manages to top the original intro song by a mile.
The Delicious Last Course sends our jolly beverage containers off on a high note. It offers an entertaining final exam of your skills while also freshening up the original adventure by giving players a cool new character to enjoy. It’s more Cuphead at the end of the day, but I had a great time revisiting Studio MDHR’s wonderful animated universe, testing my mettle against its villains, and feeling fist-pumping triumph all over again.