9 Difficult Games Like Cuphead

Best Games Like Cuphead
Image credit: Studio HDMR

Cuphead has a rich, unique art style and steep difficulty curve. If you’ve played it, you’ll know that the use of hand-drawn assets, interesting bosses, and difficult mechanics make for a truly memorable experience. The DLC is equally fantastic, too.

Cuphead can take a while to master, but eventually, players will finish exploring Inkwell Island. Luckily, there’s plenty of great alternatives to Cuphead that you can pick up if you’re looking for more, with wonderful art styles, tricky bosses, and immersive worlds.

In this list, we’re going to cover all of the best games like Cuphead. They’re not all identical to Cuphead, but they feature familiar elements and gameplay styles that fans are sure to enjoy.

Here are 9 difficult games like Cuphead that you should check out today.

9. Critadel

Best Games Like Cuphead - Critadel
Nicalis

Critadel is a title with shooter and platformer elements. It has lots of replay value, and you’ll rarely play it the same way twice. There are hundreds of paths through the randomly made levels that you can take.

That’s along with over 100,000 weapon configurations. With all of these options, you’re going to struggle to run out of things to do in Critadel.

Players will need to blow their way through a giant tower of Babel. This isn’t a stone structure though. It’s a mechanical tower that is heavily defended. This tower is crawling with enemies for players to shoot up. You can customize the weapons in the game to make your arsenal unique.

The art style in Critadel took inspiration from the Game Boy Advance era games. While it isn’t the same as the art style in Cuphead, it’s still a beautifully made game with an immersive in-game world.

Critadel is a unique game and one that has huge replay potential. Fans of games like Cuphead will find great use of their 2D shooter skills here.

8. Hades

Best Games Like Cuphead - Hades
Supergiant Games

Hades is a roguelike game. While it’s very different from Cuphead in terms of gameplay mechanics, there are some parts that might make it a good fit for fans of games like Cuphead. It’s a fast-paced, challenging game with a beautiful art style.

Hades’s art style is hand-drawn. It’s not got the same old-fashioned style of animation as Cuphead, but it has that same hand-made artisan touch that seems to elevate it above the competition. It also features full voice acting. This all helps the characters and story feel real.

Players take on the role of Zagreus. He’s a member of the Greek Pantheon of Gods and the son of Hades. He’s attempting to climb out of the Underworld. You’ll face some fierce resistance when trying to break away from the god of the dead.

You have to progress through a series of dungeon stages, defeating enemies, and collecting power-ups to enhance your abilities. You’ll face numerous bosses in the game. That includes a few in quick succession towards the end of the game.

Hades has a lot of differences from some games like Cuphead. But it’s one of the best roguelikes around at the moment. The gameplay in Hades can be difficult. Just like Cuphead though, it’s worth pushing through so you can experience the full game.

7. Shovel Knight

Best Games Like Cuphead - Shovel Knight
Yacht Club Games

Shovel Knight is another huge indie game that might appeal to fans of Cuphead. The gameplay is pretty different, but they’re both high-quality indies with some tough boss fights and a high level of difficulty.

Shovel Knight is largely a platformer. Players progress through side-scrolling levels trying to collect treasure. The game has some unique mechanics for the titular main character though to spice up the platforming.

Players can use a shovel to bounce on enemies’ heads and dig out treasure. They can make use of projectiles similar to Cuphead by purchasing secondary weapons.

Most sections in Shovel Knight feature a boss at the end, with an impressive total for the whole game. There aren’t quite as many bosses as Cuphead, but there’s still a good amount. You’ll need to make use of varied secondaries and pay attention to platforming to beat each of these bosses.

Once you beat the main game, you unlock New Game Plus. This ramps up the difficulty significantly! This mode might have the most appeal for those looking for games like Cuphead with similar difficulty.

Shovel Knight is a great platformer, and it’s one of the best platform games on Steam and other platforms. It doesn’t have hand-drawn art, but the number of bosses and the difficulty level should spice things up for fans of Cuphead.

6. Enter the Gungeon

Best Games Like Cuphead - Enter the Gungeon
Devolver Digital

Enter the Gungeon is a roguelike dungeon crawler with some bullet hell mechanics. The title has similar gameplay to Cuphead in some ways and even comes close with the difficulty too.

For bullet hell games overall, Enter the Gungeon is pretty highly regarded. It’s one of the best bullet hell games on Steam, and fans of games like Cuphead will love it.

Players are progressing through a dungeon known as the Gungeon. Sentient bullets live here and the layout changes each time. This keeps things fresh and adds a lot of replayability.

To progress through the dungeon, players need to defeat the varied enemies that populate the rooms. This can be tricky, with things ramping up as you progress further in. Similar to Cuphead, this game has several bosses that pop up throughout the run. These are pretty difficult to get through.

Another aspect that makes this game close to Cuphead is how much emphasis there is on the projectile weapons. Gungeon also has dodges and some other moves thrown in, but if you’re looking for bullet hell games then this is one of the best picks for you.

Enter the Gungeon randomizes layouts and uses roguelike mechanics to increase the difficulty. It’s one of the best games like Cuphead if you’re looking for a shooter with a high difficulty and a charming, in-depth world.

5. The Binding of Isaac

Best Games Like Cuphead - Binding of Isaac
Headup Games

The Binding of Isaac is another roguelike that’s one of the best games similar to Cuphead. It has high difficulty, great replayability, and a lot of personality in its visuals.

The title is based on the biblical story of the same name, and thematically serves as an exploration of some deeper themes. This is more serious subject matter than Cuphead, but it infuses the game with personality in a similar way.

Isaac’s art style comes from its roots as a flash-based game. This does mean it’s a far cry from the traditional animation style in Cuphead. However, these simple characters are distinctive and help to bring the game to life.

The Binding of Isaac’s gameplay is based around fighting your way through a dungeon. In this case, it’s the protagonist’s mother’s basement. The basement is procedurally generated. Every time you play it’ll be slightly different, which helps to keep things fresh.

Players have to clear out all of the enemies in each of the rooms and progress through plenty of boss fights to reach the end of the game.

This is one of the best games like Cuphead for its focus on 2D shooting. However, this game has a top-down perspective, so it is visually different to Cuphead. The title controls as a twin-stick shooter, which makes for some interesting gameplay.

There are various items and power-ups spread throughout the game. These let you mix up the attacks you’re using and boost through a difficult section.

This title has permanent death. Every time that you lose, it’s over and you start again with a newly laid out dungeon. That makes it more important to learn strategies for dealing with enemies and bosses than planning a route.

While it’s randomized, the gameplay cycle is similar to grinding out deaths to learn enemy and boss behavior in Cuphead. Games like The Binding of Isaac are sure to be a hit with gamers who enjoyed playing Cuphead.

4. Hollow Knight

Best Games Like Cuphead - Hollow Knight
Team Cherry

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania title with a lot in common with Cuphead. It has some hand-drawn art and it’s got a decent difficulty spike.

Players control an insect creature in an underground world. This land is full of bug creatures that vary from mild inconveniences to genuine challenges.

Players have to master melee combat in this game and learn the attack cycles of enemies to defeat them. While it isn’t a shooter, this emphasis on learning the cycles of enemies and bosses is similar to Cuphead.

Each time the players die, they lose what they’ve collected and will have to fight an enemy to get it back. This adds quite a bit of difficulty and puts a real emphasis on staying alive. You’ll need to think tactically rather than just running into a fight.

Hollow Knight has a story going on too, with a lot of it told through flavor text throughout the game. While it isn’t the focus, a lot of players find it to be an engaging world with great environmental storytelling.

The art of Hollow Knight isn’t the same style as Cuphead, but it is hand-drawn. Hollow Knight’s characters often come to the game straight from hand-drawn sketches. This adds a lot of personality to the game and helps to build immersion in the world.

Hollow Knight is one of the best games for fans of Cuphead. While it isn’t a complete match in gameplay, it’s a great experience and is worth checking out.

3. Bendy and the Ink Machine

Best Games Like Cuphead - Bendy and the Ink Machine
Rooster Teeth Games

Bendy and the Ink Machine is probably the closest of the games like Cuphead in terms of its art. Although, they do draw from some slightly different periods.

It isn’t a one-for-one match with Cuphead. Bendy used more modern techniques to achieve its visuals whereas Cuphead stuck with more retro methods. Bendy’s visuals take inspiration from old animation but they’re actually produced digitally.

Bendy also makes the animation studios themselves a key part of its story. Rather than just being the medium, it’s the whole point of the game here.

The gameplay of the title is quite a bit different. This isn’t a boss-based game, but a survival horror title. A broken machine has brought numerous cartoon characters to life in this title.

Players use a first-person view to explore and use only melee weapons for combat. There are also some puzzles mixed in and unique items that keep things interesting.

Bendy definitely has more of a focus on the story than Cuphead. Where Cuphead takes inspiration from cartoons, Bendy instead makes a game about those who make the cartoons.

This isn’t a super hard game. However, there’s some decent tension throughout and some sections will give players a reason to pause and think it through.

Bendy and the Ink Machine is a great choice for games like Cuphead if you’re interested in more titles about animation and want to try something fresh and unfamiliar. The gameplay is wildly different, but its approach to paying homage to classic animation is a nice touch.

2. Dead Cells

Best Games Like Cuphead - Dead Cells
Motion Twin

Dead Cells is another title on this list that’s a roguelike, so it’s got some decent difficulty. Each playthrough is randomly generated. Every death puts you back to square one, with just the upgrades you’ve unlocked carried over.

Gameplay involves traveling through a diseased island and facing the king of the island. There are multiple routes through the game. Each level has different exits so you can take different routes to the final boss.

Every few levels you’re going to face a lengthy boss fight. These fights are difficult. You’ll need to learn their movement patterns and figure out what you have an opening to attack. This is an element that fans of games like Cuphead will find familiar.

You’ll need to progress through these levels, taking out enemies and collecting better gear. Dead Cells has high replay value and a lot of options for how you want to play. There are plenty of melee combat weapons, but also projectiles you can use instead.

While there aren’t as many bosses in this game as there are in Cuphead, the enemies towards the end of the game will start to feel like bosses. Even basic enemies will require you to memorize their attack patterns to defeat them.

Dead Cells has a lot of differences from Cuphead. However, with its difficulty and focus on technical gameplay, there’s a lot for fans of the platformer to like here. Even in its own genre, Dead Cells is one of the best roguelike games on Steam.

1. Furi

Best Games Like Cuphead - Furi
The Game Breakers

Furi is a shoot-em-up game with bullet hell style gameplay that feels pretty close to Cuphead in places. This game has a distinctive art style and tight gameplay that relies on high skill to push through.

The player controls the Stranger, who is progressing through a prison consisting of floating islands. Each of these islands has a boss which you’ll need to beat to progress.

This is almost entirely a game of boss fights, with added cut scenes and extras. You’ll need to master the limited move set in the game and the attack patterns of the various boss stages.

Players can dodge the bullets from bosses, parry their attacks, and attack themselves with melee or projectile weapons. It’s a much more limited collection of moves and kit than you’ll find in other games. Just like in Cuphead, it’s about using the perfect weapon for each boss fight and mastering those moves.

You’ll need to become an expert at these limited moves to complete the game. There are also quick-time events to contend with here too.

Furi has a fairly compelling story, even though it’s mainly boss fights. There’s dialogue and cutscenes between the boss fights and stages. There’s also more of this in the walking sections between these fights.

Furi is one of the best games like Cuphead if you’re mainly looking for more boss fights and a challenging style of play. The story is a nice bonus here too along with the fun and varied gameplay in the fights.

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