Of all the words I can use to describe Cuphead, only one comes to mind: charming. Cuphead is a fun and challenging action platformer that has a fun time messing with your mind. The art style is a callback to the old Saturday morning cartoons you used to watch as a kid. The gameplay is loaded with all sorts of different ways to fight different things. The sound is amazing, staying true to the theme by using old microphones for the little bits of voice and music to match the 70s -80s cartoon era. The story is cute despite being confusing to start off, but for an action platformer, it brings a higher quality than most. The difficulty hits me harder than the rest of this game. It makes the experience a little harder to enjoy, but then again, the game is not supposed to be easy.
The story of Cuphead features Cuphead (main character) and Mugman (2nd player) who wind up at the devil’s casino. You are killing it at gambling and the devil takes notice. He wagers that if you win the next dice roll you can have all the loot in the casino, but if you don’t he gets your souls. Obviously, this does not go well for Cuphead, and after you lose you and Mugman plea with the devil to make a deal. He then assigns you to collect all the souls he is owed from runaway debtors. This is your main quest in the game and leads to boss battles that overflow with difficulty. You have to make your way throughout the worlds to collect souls to win the game.
The art style is amazing, full of vibrant and rich colors under the cover of a film grain, making it look like it was filmed in the pre-digital era. It manages to cover up the fact that you are collecting souls for the devil in order to preserve your and your pals’ lives. All in all, this game doesn’t get tiresome to look at and allows the characters to have a certain feel about them that you can’t get from any other art-style The sound is one of the best aspects of this game, the way it fits with the style of game to the finite detail is astounding! From old-time microphones to the barbershop quartet that sings the opening song, it all fits and doesn’t get repetitive no matter how many times you play the same level. This game created its sound design in such a fantastic way, I restarted a few times just to hear the opening song again.
The gameplay on the keyboard doesn’t use the WASD keys, but instead controls with the arrows and shift, z, x, c, and v. This is hard to master, but once you get used to it it’s not such a big deal. I myself would recommend a controller, but do take the time to set up the inputs in a comfortable fashion. The gameplay itself is good and smooth, the only problem I have is the aiming mechanic. Cuphead only allows you to aim in 8 directions, but I can overlook this as it makes the game feel more old-fashioned.
Though I did not want to make this a category, it has to be addressed. The game does everything in its power to show you that this is not a simple quest. When I started playing I had to spend a solid 30 minutes trying to beat the first level. Now, the game does have a lower difficulty setting, but who wants to be the guy that beats the game on easy mode? The game shows your progress through the level after you die so you can see if you improve or get worse, which kept me playing for longer because I got so close so many times. Though I shouldn’t judge a game too harshly for a difficulty that is supposed to be there, I can’t help but say that this affected the score I gave this game.
This game is a great game by no stretch of the imagination. The art fits so well with the theme that you actually feel like you are stuck in an old television and are fighting to be free. The sound keeps you immersed in the heat of battle and the feeling of adventure. The gameplay is a throwback to the older games that you grew up with but with a surprisingly modern twist. The one issue I have is with the difficulty. This, however, should not be the reason you choose not to purchase it. This game is one of my top 10 because everything is done in such detail and with such care.