Cuphead — 3.5/5 Stars
Cuphead is a run-and-gun game by indie developer StudioMDHR Entertainment. The game follows Cuphead and Mugman through a fantastical cartoon world as they battle to get out of a literal deal with the devil. c
Cuphead features an eye-grabbing visual style, inspired by animations from the 1930s. The game is entirely hand drawn, and the backgrounds were painted with watercolors, giving Cuphead its authentic, nostalgic feel. The music is original 1930s-style jazz, which completes the anachronistic feeling that Cuphead is a video game from nearly 100 years ago.
Gameplay in Cuphead centers around “boss battles,” where you face one large enemy after another. There is an imaginative variety of enemies, ranging from a mad scientist’s robot to a queen bee in her hive. Each enemy follows a different but predictable pattern, making each fight a new learning experience. Cuphead also features a variety of abilities and weapons your character can equip to customize your play style to best suit the battle.
The game follows a simple story. Cuphead and Mugman make the mistake of going to a casino owned by the devil and, in a moment of foolish greed, gamble their souls. They lose the gamble, and the devil offers them a deal: work for him and he may forgive the debt. As the game progresses, the characters face the decision to cooperate with the devil or fight him to save their friends. What a reminder to us of the reality of spiritual warfare. The deceiver may be cunning, but “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NIV).
I went into Cuphead fully aware of its reputation, but I was surprised at just how brutally difficult it is. It walks a very fine line between frustration and the pride of achievement. Instructions are often unclear, and players are forced to spend a lot of time on trial and error in a game that’s already demanding on its own.
As I was tempted to give up, I was reminded of Galatians 6:9 (NIV): “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Despite the frustrating difficulty, Cuphead is still an enjoyable game. The upbeat music and beautiful art create a world that is exciting to explore and battle through. Cuphead demands a lot from its players. There’s an increased feeling of accomplishment with high difficulty, but you must be willing to put in tremendous effort. If you want a gaming experience that will push you to your limits, look no further. If you want a relaxing “just for fun” game, Cuphead may not be for you.
Chris Clark | Portland | Northern New England