Super Daryl Deluxe (Switch eShop) Review
Many of us will look back at high school as a bit of a unique experience. From emotional and physical changes, to questionable hair and fashion styles, and being friends with that one person that makes you look back and wonder what on earth you were thinking. It can certainly be a weird time in a person’s life.
Daryl’s high school experience is much, much weirder.
Super Daryl Deluxe, the debut title by Dan & Gary Games, is a Metroidvania-style RPG brawler that delights in the absurdity of its premise. You play as Daryl, the newest student to Water Falls High School. Years after two graduates create the world’s greatest self-help book that sweeps the globe, ushering in a world peace, the resulting tranquillity has since dissipated and mysterious happenings are occurring. Students are disappearing from the school, the vice principal may or may not be a robot, and strange wormholes are popping up in classrooms. All is not as it seems, and it makes for a great set up to this wonderfully wacky adventure.
The story is portrayed with a charming cartoon aesthetic that contrasts subtle background tones with the colourful hero and his abilities. Though when I say colourful, I’m referring to his pants, not his personality. Daryl is a silent, awkward student whose fashion sense is ripped from a decade long gone, but his goofy demeanour and how the other characters throughout the story play off it is all part of the game’s charm.
You’ll encounter an enormous ensemble of characters across your lengthy journey, from your typical high school cliques to famous figures from history such as Beethoven, Leonardo Da Vinci and…Count Dracula. The writing is sharp and witty, and whilst not every joke lands, they fire quickly enough that every conversation is guaranteed to at least bring a smile to your face.
The high school acts as the game’s central hub, with the various classrooms essentially acting as dungeons to be explored and conquered. The classes are refreshingly varied, with a riff on Middle Earth, a haunted mansion, the crypts of Egypt, and a battlefield filled with prominent historical figures acting as just some of your destinations. What initially appears to be a limited map soon becomes a sprawling labyrinth of rooms and doorways filled with enemies to slay and quests to complete.
The main story objectives keeps things ticking along at a solid pace, but I did find myself on occasion stuck and lost, with little indication of how to trigger the next part of the story. Clearer indicators for quest locations on the map would have helped the pacing and also been a motivational boost to wander off the main path and mop up some side quests, of which there is no shortage.
Many of them boil down to collect a certain number of this, collect this many of that, and the lack of a fast travel system can make navigating the jungle that is the school’s hallways to hunt down items a bit of a chore. With that said, interesting setups such as finding beer for Julius Caesar or helping Dr. Watson solve a mystery are usually enough to make it worth the detour.
An enjoyable combat system helps to make your romp through the grounds enjoyable enough to hold your interest. Combat allows you to allocate different abilities to five attack buttons. They are as varied as you would expect in this world, with rubber duck arrows, surfing tidal waves, flaming kicks and banana boomerangs being just some of the offensive options available to you, each with their own cooldown timer like you would find in Diablo or an MMO. You can collect textbooks scattered around the world to either trade for new abilities or cash in for skill XP in order to power up your existing moves. There’s also plenty of equipment to find or buy to enhance your stats.
There is something oddly satisfying about chaining your abilities together and watching the numbers tick by on screen as the damage you deal and the XP you earn ticks up. If the combat starts to get a little stale, it’s easy to simply swap out your abilities for a different set to mix up your play style. It won’t be long before you land on a combination that has range, damage and cool down periods that perfectly complement one another, and you’ll slip into a zen-like state that, whilst occasionally can feel a bit like button-mashing, is still enjoyable from start to finish.
Super Daryl Deluxe is a charming and clever side-scrolling beat ‘em up RPG. The bizarre story, intriguing characters and witty writing serve as an enjoyable backdrop to a game that manages to sink its teeth into you in a way that makes it difficult to put down. The map design and satisfying combat make it incredibly compelling to keep exploring just one more room to find out what crazy antics await, and the scope of the world provides a huge amount of content for those wishing to see it all. It’s easy to recommend making room for Daryl and friends in your Switch library.
- Witty writing and characters
- Exciting combat
- No fast travel
- Repetitive quest objectives