Cuphead’s Extremely Challenging Gameplay is Worth Every Minute of Your Time

Game: Cuphead

Developer: Studio MDHR

Publisher: Xbox

Reviewed: Xbox One

The long-awaited arrival of Cuphead is finally over and it was well worth the wait. If you have yet to hear about Cuphead, it is the latest Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive title which indie developer Studio MDHR has worked on the-the past few years.

The game is all hand drawn in a beautiful 1930s cartoon art style which makes the game look truly unique. Cuphead, Mugman and other zany characters around the world of the game all look phenomenal. When in action the game doesn’t even look like a game rather more like an old cartoon show. The animations, the bosses, and everything between is so well done that it will just blow you away the minute you pop it on your tv screen.

I literally can go on and on about how beautiful the graphics for the game are, but Cuphead is more than a pretty looking game. It has more substance than you would think, with a dark story and very meticulous mechanics, the game will have you screaming with both joy and hate. From the surface Cuphead looks like a fun sidescroller game to play, however, this is where most people will be deceived. Cuphead is more focused on unique boss battles that will have players screaming at their TVs, have their blood pressure rising, and rejoicing at the sign of victory.

The game is not made for players who want to casually play it, but rather for the gamer that wants to challenge themselves. Cuphead is primarily a game full of boss battles, each coming with their own set of moves and patterns. There are a couple of levels that will break up the action and have you play a side-scrolling mission, but these are far and few between. The bulk of the game is bosses and if you don’t have the stomach for boss battles than I would advise to sadly pass on the game.

To say the game is hard would be a mockery. It is brutal in the highest fashion of the word, it’s relentless and it will keep you on your toes until the very end of the battle. There is no room for error, but this is where Studio MDHR did a really good job. As hard as the game seems, it never feels impossible to the point of no defeat. You ARE capable of finishing the boss, but it will have you become self-aware of your mistakes and become a better player through trial and error.

This mechanic, at first, really annoyed me as it felt I was never going to progress, but after a couple of levels, you start to build confidence and essentially get good (gitgud) at the game. Learning each bosses unique pattern is never an easy thing to do, they will almost always change it ever so slightly as soon as you think you figured it out. However, after finally beating your first boss, you are going to feel a rush, you’re going to feel like you can beat any boss they throw your way, that is until you reach the next boss and do the entire process over again.

It’s a stressful game to play that’s for sure, but at its core its addictive and it challenges you. Nothing ever comes easy, everything is earned and once it is it feels phenomenal. There are more elements to the game which make it a well-rounded title. The musical score is excellent; fitting both the tone and design of the game. You will genuinely want to hear more of these songs once you turn off your console and continue on with your day, that’s how good it is.

At the moment, couch co-op is the only way to play the game if you want a buddy to jump in, however, there have been talks of adding an online mode at a later stage. Playing in co-op could be super helpful at times, but it also could get the screen very cluttered. There are a lot of objects, bullets, and enemies flying across the screen and when you add another player to the game, the screen could get a little too hectic. Otherwise, the help from your friend could be super helpful.

It is also worth mentioning that this title is a Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning you can play on the Xbox One and seamlessly transfer over to your PC save file. This is obviously a very neat feature, but I must warn you the Windows 10 version is quite buggy. After completing three bosses, the save file was corrupted and loaded back to an earlier point in the game. Studio MDHR has acknowledged the bug and is currently working on it, but until it’s officially patched, I would advise playing the Xbox One version of the game.

Cuphead is a phenomenal game plain and simple. It keeps players on their toes with excruciating boss battles, has one of the most unique art styles in all of game history, and one of the catchiest musical scores. Sadly the game won’t be for everyone, a lot of people will not take the game’s difficulty too serious and it will have them swearing, throwing their controllers, or even worse – recommending to others to skip the game.

My time with the game has been great so far, even with its challenging gameplay and frustrating boss battles. I plan to take Cuphead and Mugman to the end and see this game through no matter how hard it is. How has your time with the game so far? Too difficult or just the right amount of difficulty? Let us know what you think of the game in the comments down below!

Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.