Developer: Dan & Gary Games
Publisher: Dan & Gary Games
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC
I don’t think there are enough video game heroes out there called Daryl. I mean, it’s a great name and it’s only bestowed upon the most remarkable of people, though unfortunately game developers don’t seem to have cottoned on to that fact.
Here comes Dan & Gary Games though, with a game that not only features a protagonist named Daryl but also has the name in the title. Super Daryl Deluxe deserves to be recognised as a great little game for that alone – the fact that it also just so happens to be a thoroughly entertaining and charming side-scrolling action-RPG experience does help, mind.
Super Daryl Deluxe puts you in the shoes of Daryl, a lanky gaunt teenager who transfers to Water Falls High – a bizarre high school that finds itself in the midst of a black market for textbooks. After making friends with two equally weird fellas with whom he starts selling these textbooks with, Daryl soon realises that there are stranger going-ons occurring behind the scenes at Water Falls High and that maybe there’s a more sinister force at work…
So the narrative is a little stupid and doesn’t take itself seriously throughout (what do you expect from a game that sees you taking on zany monsters, surfing on a shark, or working out a squabble between Beethoven and Da Vinci?), but there’s no denying that it’s utterly entertaining. It’s helped out by some fantastically witty writing and the sheer randomness of what’s going on, with everything in the game proving to be incredibly anarchic but in turn very entertaining. It’s certainly one of the more ‘out there’ games that I’ve played in a while, but it kept a smile on my face throughout.
It’s surprising too, because my first impression of Super Daryl Deluxe wasn’t really a good one. Thrown in the deep end with a myriad of high level skills and no real clue how to best use them, I found the game a little clunky and awkward. It was presented beautifully (more on that later), but from a gameplay perspective I wasn’t loving what I played. I gave the game some time though and learned its ins-and-outs, and l quickly found that it’s a whole lot more entertaining and intuitive than it initially seems.
Super Daryl Deluxe plays like a side-scrolling action-RPG, with Daryl beating down his foes in almost brawler-like fashion with a wide range of skills that are assigned to the Nintendo Switch’s face and shoulder buttons. Each skill has a cool down in place so you can’t spam them without a care, but you can equip four at a time so putting together clever combos of them all is the recipe for success. It’s a formula that works and having to wait for your skills to recharge can add a strategic touch to proceedings, so it’s never just a case of mashing buttons until all of the enemies are defeated – you’ll instead need to be creative and slide in and out of the attacking range of your foes.
You’ll improve Daryl’s combat capabilities through battling, with both him and his skills able to level up by earning experience points. Having Daryl’s stats improve or his skills become more powerful is vital to your success in the game, though levelling up could feel like a grind at times – the game’s enemies didn’t always dish out a lot of experience points, so you’d have to simply repeat the same battles time and time again in order to level up. It could start to get a little repetitive, though thanks to the sheer variety of skills on offer (there are over forty in total and they’re all pretty wacky) it never became boring.
Besides battling foes, Daryl will also come across a myriad of quests that need completing. Admittedly, most of these are the simple fetch quests that are so prominent in RPGs, though there are plenty of more creative objectives in place for the more story-driven quests too. There’ll often be plenty of backtracking as you complete each one, with Super Daryl Deluxe taking a bit of a metroidvania like approach as you progress further through the game that sees previously inaccessible areas become reachable. It’s fun and quirky though, so exploration never starts to feel like a drag – in fact, it’s always a little exciting to see where the game takes you next.
This is helped in part by Super Daryl Deluxe’s superb art style. It’s very comic book-esque, with the environments you explore and the people you meet not always dashed with colour, but somehow always standing out thanks to their creative design and some fantastic animation work. It certainly embraces an almost minimalistic style, yet there’s so much detail and individuality to be found throughout the bizarre world that it’s hard not to be left wowed by it all – it’s simply full to the brim with character. It reminds me of those old 90s Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network cartoons that were just outright strange, but in a good way.