Tuesday, April 10

Review: Super Daryl Deluxe [Nintendo Switch eShop]

A definite tendency in the games industry as a whole, from the developers on down through the gamers themselves, is a need to categorize everything. There’s a good reason for this, it can certainly simplify trying to describe something since a genre description can immediately communicate certain expectations about how a game plays. What happens, though, when there’s a game that seriously screws with expectations and refuses to be lumped into a flat category? Since many indie titles have a tendency to draw outside the lines it has become common to begin making hybrid categories but there are times when even combining two traditional genres isn’t quite enough. This is very much the case with Super Daryl Deluxe, a game that you seems like it should be easy to throw into a genre or two. However, the more you play it you’ll begin to see that for the most part it is simply its own thing, borrowing from wherever it pleases to simply create a terrific and memorable experience.

The first, and probably most striking, element of Super Daryl Deluxe is the title character himself and all of the pretty outrageous powers he gains over the course of the game. When he’s not summoning waves to ride, Whack-a-Mole style heads that pop up from the ground, or slinging rubber duckie headed arrows around he may be the most unlikely looking hero ever, Kirby included. A lanky, greasy-haired, slack-jawed dweeb with a cheesy mustache, Daryl is a silent protagonist who will surprise you… as well as pretty well everyone he encounters in the game itself. The humor is most definitely a major component at play and to ruin the many creative, weird, and utterly silly worlds and bosses he encounters would be to rob you of the joys of discovery. For instance, I can pretty well guarantee the game’s first major boss will put a smile on your face.

The thing is, there’s so much more at work here than just the game’s looks, in terms of gameplay it will outright make you work to win. As you level up and acquire textbooks from your school you’ll begin to assemble quite a formidable array of attacks to knock out your enemies with, the trick is in finding the combination that collectively suits your style. You’ll have the ability to rock 4 independent attacks, each with its own quirks, range, and cooldowns, and the selection can even be a bit intimidating at first. There’s a tug of war you’ll run into as you move along trying to decide whether to save up textbooks to use to purchase more formidable powers (though they do have level minimums to keep in mind) or to trade in for experience you can use to juice up ones you already have. You’ll want a good mix of attacks that include quick and jabby as well as strong and stunning if you want to have the best chance of success, and the skills you level up first can end up doing formidable damage, the great thing is left to you to decide.

In some ways if the game has a weakness it can be your ability to make decisions, or at least the interface that helps you manage them. There’s quite a lot of information thrown at you and yet until you get used to the flow of the menus it can sometimes be a little tougher to quickly get to the screen and information you’re looking for than it could be. While the Journal you keep can do a decent job of keeping a log of discussion around quests you’re assigned I also hit snags where it was hard to tell where I was supposed to be going next, or which locked door I could now unlock. It could be I was just being dense at times but I had a tendency to get into areas sooner than I should have while missing some corner of an area I was in or thinking to go back to a place I’d already been.

All that said Super Daryl Deluxe is a pretty substantial (easily in the 20+ hour range), challenging, action-packed, boss-filled, weird and wild adventure-action-rpg-metroidvania. Its hilariously odd soundtrack is a labor of “Daryl”-filled love, its art is like something straight out of a trippy comic book and yet looks great in motion, and it has more jokes and feel-good nods than you’d believe. Just like its title character there’s much more to Super Daryl Deluxe than some video or this review can fully convey, and its a trip (perhaps acid?) well worth taking.

Score: 9

  • Daryl simply cracks me up, he couldn’t be any more unlikely a hero and yet he stomps serious ass
  • The amount of diverse content: environments, enemies, bosses, equipment, and attacks is staggering
  • The diversity in his attacks creates room for you to cater the game more to your personal preferences than most games would ever attempt
  • A very diverse selection of "Daryl"-ized is a wonderful touch

  • The degree of customization no doubt leaves room for making more mistakes
  • The interface is pretty busy and information-heavy, sometimes making it harder to use than it could/should be