Super Daryl Deluxe Review – Weirdly Charming (PS4)
Super Daryl Deluxe is a trippy brawler mixed with role-playing progression that takes place in the weirdest high school to ever exist. Players take on the role of Daryl, a teenager that makes Napoleon Dynamite look like Rico Suave by comparison. Rather than beating up a bunch of school kids, the game has players venturing into magical realms that feature historical figures that are being taught about. Thus, it’s not uncommon to come across Georgia O’Keeffe in one room and then Beethoven in the next. It’s wonderfully weird.
The way combat works is each skill of Daryl’s is assigned to a button on the DualShock 4 controller. This is entirely customizable, so players will have to come up with a control scheme that works for them (I typically put the attacks I used the most on the face buttons since it felt most natural). Everything beyond the basic punch attack is on a cooldown, so battles become a rhythmic affair.
The core combat is quite enjoyable, especially as players start to unlock more abilities later on. Experimentation is key, and finding out which attacks can nicely combo together due to their respective cooldowns is a requirement for success. I eventually had a sweet go-to combo where I was using bear traps to stun enemies, setting them on fire with one attack, and then following up with one more big hit. The regular combat encounters never get overly complex, but there’s a real joy in setting up these combinations.
Like a lot of brawlers, the boss fights wind up being the best part. These are often where the game takes advantage of its fantasy elements more than ever. Even the early encounters are filled with creativity, as Daryl takes on a janitor turned champion boxer, and a bully that practically turns into Donkey Kong. These battles often play out more like a puzzle than a pure fight, although it’s still important to be appropriately leveled or players will be losing progress with regularity.
That difficulty curve (or more-so the requirement of grinding to overcome it) is one of Super Daryl Deluxe‘s key issues. The fastest way to level up is to either beating up a ton of enemies in a repetitive pattern, or to finish the game’s side-quests, most of which are of the simple fetch quest variety. Such as collecting 20 of an enemy drop or beating up a certain foe dozens of times. Either way, players will find themselves doing something less than enthralling in order to move on with the story.
While there are standout moments, Super Daryl Deluxe is ultimately an uneven experience that goes on for too long. Sure, there are some really great quest lines, like one where two dead elves are trying to pass on, but most come across as filler. Throw in some rather annoying instances where grinding is needed in order to progress, and you have a game that could’ve been a lot more fun if it was streamlined a bit.
The game also has so many references that it could be confused for Ready Player One in some spots. While plenty are accompanied by some funny one-liners (I was a big fan of the Skrillex character), others seemingly appear just so players can remember that they know that person, and then disappear forever into the background. The game would’ve benefited by having a smaller cast of characters that were focused on more rather than throwing dozens of references in for momentary laughs that are quickly gone.
Super Daryl Deluxe could be something really special if it was better curated, but there’s simply too much fluff for it to be at its best. Developers need to remember that sometimes less is more, and that it’s better to leave players wanting more rather than wanting to bounce before the credits roll. There are some great ideas here, and some really funny writing, but the good moments are all surrounded by a bunch of middling ones.
Super Daryl Deluxe review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.