Platform reviewed on: PC
Also available on: Xbox One
Cuphead is an Xbox One/ PC indie exclusive 2D side scrolling shoot’ em up, created by a handful of people in 2017. Here, you step in the shoes of Cuphead, who is literally a cup with a face and a body. After losing a card game with the Devil, Cuphead and his friend Mugman (in order to keep their souls) are forced to collect soul contracts by exterminating devil’s helpers residing in a totally surreal world, known as Inkwell Isles. Very simple plot but it does the job adequately enough.
Only one word to say: Exceptional. Cuphead has hands down the best cartoonish graphics I have ever seen in a video game. When I saw people on Twitch playing it I mistakenly believed that I was watching an old Disney cartoon flick straight back from the 1930’s. Everything from the filters applied, to the characters’ animations and the whole design of the stages is all crafted with such love and care that we have to give a ton of credit to the developers.
The variation of the stages is humongous. You get the opportunity to play inside tree trunks, retro bars, crazy amusement parks and dense forests. You will also fly by air plane and visit the Egyptian pyramid, as well as floating castles with dragons and the list goes on.
Character design is super brilliant as well. Bosses are extremely well crafted; you will face djinies, giant crazy flowers with hilarious dancing moves, dolphin boxers that transform into slot machines, a huge carrot that possesses psychokinetic powers, clowns and a ton of others.
In addition, weapon effects are also great. When you trigger your super powers, the whole screen is fills with beautiful explosions, clouds of smoke and dust and energy beams that evaporate your foes.
The soundtrack reprises of jazz music and tunes that are similar to what you listen to when watching old cartoons. It fits the whole style and character of the game adequately and it adds a lot of bonus points to the charm of the game. Sound effects are also very funny with ‘’pew pew’’ sounds that will make you smile.
If I could only use one phrase to describe its game play, I would say this: ‘’you will lose a lot but it will be only your fault’’. The game is very, very, very HARD but the control scheme is extremely precise. Every order from the controller to your character is transferred instantaneously, so it is not the game’s fault that you do not have the reflexes of a cat to evade everything.
Mostly, there are 2 types of stages, ”run and gun” sections and boss battles. As far as the ‘’run and gun’’ sections are concerned, you will play small stages hitting endless waves of enemies, while simultaneously trying to collect gold coins. These gold coins can be used to upgrade your character with new weapons, special abilities and charms that will undoubtedly give you an edge in battle. Everything comes at a cost though; for example you can equip a special charm that gives you an extra hit point but it lessens the damage dealt to enemies by your weapons. To add to the difficulty of the game, in order to collect these gold coins you have to break a sweat, because most of them can only be reached with acrobatics. And trying to do these acrobatics while evading all these enemies is a very difficult task, trust me.
Boss battles are where the game truly shines. While these battles do not last more than 3 to 4 minutes, it is only after hundreds of tries and after a lot of effort that you will be able to eventually knock them out. Every boss battle is separated in phases of progressing difficulty and it is only after a lot of deaths that you will be able to know their patterns and evade them relatively easily. Most of the times, manoeuvres seem impossible because the whole screen is filled with projectiles of all sizes and surprise attacks. Every time you die you will see a screen where on top, the boss is mocking you by chanting lyrics and on the down side, you will see a bar where you get to know how close you were to stage completion. But, after a surprisingly big number of deaths and frustration, you will ultimately develop these superhuman reflexes needed and you will be able to send these abominations back to hell. This is a moment of intense gratification, trust me.
In conclusion, the game can be experienced co op; it is harder, more frustrating and a whole lot more fun. Only the most determined team will advance, gentlemen!
Value for Money:……10
Cuphead is by far one of the best couch co op experiences you can have today. Find a good and patient friend of yours and you will both be glued to the couch for hours on end trying to flawlessly finish every stage. And all this for only 20 Euros. If this game is not one of the best value for money deals, I honestly do not know what is. Simply amazing.
‘’For proving to everyone what a masterpiece only a handful of people can create and for not charging 60 Euros for it.’’