For many of us high school is at times an awkward experience, punctuated by endless homework and boredom. In Super Daryl Deluxe you play as an eccentric dude named Daryl who is the new kid at Water Fall High School. The halls and much of the scenery is presented in black and white, which I think adequately represents the doldrums of everyday school life. Daryl is peppered with red clothes and a headband, and in some sense reminded me a bit of Napoleon Dynamite. As the game begins, it becomes obvious that something strange is afoot. Many classrooms are locked or boarded up, and for a high school there is a disturbing lack of teachers and students. What exactly is going on here? It’s up to you and Daryl to solve the mysteries.
Super Daryl Deluxe bills itself as a Metroidvania RPG, but in all honestly it feels more like a brawler. That’s because the game has you punching and kicking your way through endless amounts of enemies. Many times you’ll have to defeat them before the game will even let you move on to the next area. While it’s true that you’ll be backtracking through different zones, it never came across as fun or exploratory like a Metroid game and instead felt like padding to make the game seem longer. The RPG elements are appreciated, as you’ll find new gear to equip that will increase various stats and skills.
As you progress you’ll acquire new moves and skills, some of which are really cool. You can equip up to four at any one time, allowing for some really awesome combos. One of the coolest skills is the ability to ride a shark atop a huge wave to deal massive damage to your foes. To avoid spamming one ability over and over again, each skill comes with a cool down gauge. Normally it only takes a few seconds for the skill to refill and become available again, but this mechanic really seemed out of place in a beat’em up like this. That’s because most of these types of games allow for multiple uses of the same attack over and over again, and it just felt odd to sometimes hit an attack button and have nothing happen. It took some time for me to adjust to this, and very often in the heat of the battle I’d just start mashing buttons to keep the enemies at bay.
The game’s strongest asset is its writing. Throughout the entire adventure the writing is spot-on and made me consistently laugh from beginning to end. The clever prose is everywhere: from the menus to the item descriptions to the in-game dialog. The plot is so insane and crazy that the comic relief is a perfect fit. The game keeps you guessing and the mysteries were exciting to unravel.
The game’s visuals are very distinct and unique. Much of the game is presented in black and white or muted tones, but there are punches of color in various elements. The art has a sort of Beavis and Butthead meets Adventure Time aesthetic. What really stands out is the animation of Daryl and the other enemies. Movements are exaggerated so when Daryl runs his arms and legs stretch out to further showcase his lanky figure. While this is great to see, it did cause some issues with precision platforming because it was sometimes difficult to tell exactly where Daryl would land.
When all is said and done, Super Daryl Deluxe delivers a compelling story with fantastic visuals. It’s just unfortunate that the gameplay doesn’t live up to the rest of the game. The bottom line is that the combat gets old after a few hours, and there are times where you have to clear rooms to move on, which became tedious. The new moves you unlock help change up the action and can add some variety to the mix, but they’re not enough to keep the combat interesting for long stretches. If you don’t mind mindless button mashing and “kill rooms” where more and more enemies hop out of nowhere to take you down, then this aspect of the game will be just fine. I appreciated the storytelling and the bizarre characters, but that wasn’t enough to make it a must-have game for the Switch.
Super Daryl Deluxe was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.