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Cuphead's Delicious Last Course offers depth over breadth

Tuck in.

"Depth, not breadth." That's the mantra for The Delicious Last Course, Cuphead's DLC that arrives across all systems on 30th June.

Originally announced back in 2018, The Delicious Last Course has been a longtime coming for starving Cuphead fans. Priced £6.79, it adds around four hours of things to do on the brand new Inkwell Isle, and introduce new playable character Ms. Chalice.

Studio MDHR's aim, it says, is not only to provide something extra to play, but add new gameplay flavours to the existing main game. As an amuse bouche, Eurogamer got a hands-off peek at the new DLC and it's looking like there will be plenty to sink your teeth into.

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The DLC is fully integrated into the game, rather than a separate menu. Accessing Inkwell Isle is as simple as chatting to the new Boatman character, who'll whisk you away on your new adventure to turn the corporeal Ms. Chalice into physical form. Naturally, that's done through food. With that, Cuphead and Mugman's quest to defeat bosses and collect their ingredients for Chef Saltbaker to use in a Wondertart begins. It's as surreal as you'd expect.

A major reason (besides the pandemic, of course) for the DLC's delay is the sheer amount of work that goes into its animation. There are apparently more frames of animation in one phase of a boss fight here than in an entire three-phase battle in the original. All the visuals are hand drawn but now feature even more detail, from the bosses themselves to the arena backdrops that add more scale and depth than before. The sheer amount of stuff on screen is hugely impressive.

That's matched by a new musical score which, like the animation, continues to take its cues from the 1930s but also plunders new genres for inspiration. Meanwhile, the new Inkwell Isle is another stunning map area to explore that's now devoid of run-and-gun levels, but brimming - the studio promises - with secrets to discover and extra unique challenges.

Perhaps the biggest new addition is Ms. Chalice herself who, Studio MDHR says, plays considerably different to the titular Cuphead. On paper she's far more mobile, with a double jump, a dash (that also parries), and a dodge roll, plus she gets an extra hit point. There's a trade-off, though: to play as Ms. Chalice means equipping a special cookie charm, locking you out of other potentially useful abilities. Playing as Chalice is not an easy mode, but just a different way of tackling the game's notoriously tricky bosses.

Studio MDHR are also adding in a tonne of new weapons and charms, once again purchased from Porkrind's Emporium. That includes the Crackshot weapon that breaks into a homing projectile, the Converge weapon that offers a piercing three-way shot, and the homing Chaser weapon (they don't all begin with C).

What's more, all of the new weapons, charms, and Chalice herself can be brought back to the main game, accessed through a new fast travel system via the Boatman. Once again, it's all about adding depth and options to the existing game.

Cuphead The Delicious Last Course
Cuphead The Delicious Last Course

We got to see all of this in action against a brand new boss from the DLC: Mortimer Freeze in Snow Cult Scuffle. That extra visual detail is immediately apparent, with a stage featuring an audience of eerie snowmen and a beautiful aurora borealis in the background. More became visible as the stage transforms - another fresh feature for the DLC. After the second phase of the battle, in which Mortimer turns from ice wizard into an abominable snow creature, a series of platforms appear which must be climbed to initiate the final phase. Mortimer, now transformed into a ginormous snowflake, must be faced while navigating moving platforms against the night sky.

It's delicious Cuphead stuff - beautiful yet fiendishly tricky - but now with an extra level of confidence and flair, accompanied by a cacophony of roaring jazz trumpets. The boss also seemed designed for Chalice's new move set as she dodges and weaves around multiple projectiles. It'll be interesting to see how difficult that is with the - comparably stilted - Cuphead.

As for what's next from Studio MDHR, don't expect a remastered version of Cuphead for Xbox Series X/S or PS5. The DLC will be available on all current platforms, but no new versions are planned. Instead, the team is looking at other games and styles for future projects. That'll certainly add some breadth to its already tasty portfolio.

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course will be released on 30th June across Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam and GOG), for £6.79 / $7.99 / €7.99.

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