Cuphead has been one of the most talked about and highly anticipated indie titles of the year. Like so many gamers, I was wowed with its visual design while beginning to lose interest due to the long development time and delays (this is usually a recipe for disappointment). However I decided to give it a chance out of the whim following its release and it’s a decision I haven’t regretted.
One thing is very obvious about the team at StudioMDHR Entertainment, they are truly fans of old school games. Cuphead is not just a nod to the Fleischer Studios and classic Disney cartoon but also platform titles form the Fourth-Generation era of gaming. To its credit, this is not a title that panders to nostalgia but instead is its own game while also paying respects to its influences.
Also; let’s get this out of the way now – Cuphead is not the Dark Souls of platform side-scrollers. Its level of difficulty is no different from most games form the Fourth through Fifth Generation era of gaming, it only feels brutal because most games today don’t challenge players. Anyone comparing Cuphead to Dark Souls are just casuals who are not use to playing a challenging game.
Don’t Deal With the Devil
The plot is simple and borrows a lot from the classic cartoons of the 1930’s. The story follows Cuphead and Mugman who are in debt to the Devil. To replay this debt, our heroes must act as a debt collector for the Devil by traveling around Inkwell Isle and battle a series of bosses.
From the start, one has to really appreciate how Cuphead feels like watching an old cartoon. Not just with its visual design but also with its musical composition along with the verity of characters they encounter. Not since South Park: The Stick of Truth has a title successfully made players feel like they are watching an animated adventure instead of playing a game.
Classic cartoons are not the only source of influence for Cuphead as old school games also deserve some credit. Super Mario World is the first game that would come to mind but one could also sense that Disney’s Magical Quest was also a major influence on the gameplay and level schematics.
Seriously, This is Not Dark Souls
Cuphead is a challenging game but to overcome the obstacles and defeat the bosses, players need to have a proper plan. This means timing your action and attack while studying the enemies pattern of movement. Don’t just run and gun or you will end up dead really fast then start complaining about the game being “too hard”.
The gameplay mechanics is combination of platform adventure along with run and gun with elements of a role playing game. Gamers needs to overcome the obstacles and bosses in each level while also upgrading their character. It’s best advised that players treat the game more like a platformer and less like a run and gun.
A Debt Repaid
The Moldenhauer brothers made a lot of sacrifices just to create Cuphead and it was worth it. This truly is a title made by a team of old school gamers for anyone who is a fan of both old school platformers along with run and gun games.
Final Score: 8/10
Disclaimer: I bought this game on Steam.