Everyone has had a very different experience while they were in high school, but chances are you’ve never had a four-year span as wacky and weird as what’s found in Super Daryl Deluxe. The game has a Metroid-vania style design that has you traversing various areas of Water Falls High School, where everyone and everything is clearly not ordinary. Multidimensional events and tons of random pop-culture references and clever writing make for an enjoyable game. As goofy and fun as the visuals and plot can be, there are a few minor issues that will damper the experience for some.
The story of Super Daryl Deluxe revolves around the new kid, Daryl, who comes to Water Falls High School under weird circumstances. The very start of the game drops you into events that happen further down the line but immediately brings you back to where things all started. It does a little time for you to get into the crazier stuff that goes on in Water Falls High, but when the weirdness begins it definitely pays off.
Some of the references will be deep cuts for anyone that grew up with things like Dungeons & Dragons or the Lord of the Rings books, while others may take you a second to get what the game is poking fun at. The dialogue is good in most parts where you view short cutscenes, with very few instances that fall flat. A lot of the characters and enemies you come across are a mixture of high school archetypes and personalities with greatly exaggerated traits. All of this fits into the wild world that the game builds up for you over the whole experience.
Gameplay is the highlight of Super Daryl Deluxe, which plays very well with responsive controls and great platforming. However, things will become dower as you explore the entirety of Water Falls High and the many areas found within it, mainly due to areas with harsh difficulty spikes that appear frequently. Like some of the games in the genre that inspired it, Super Daryl Deluxe relies on you exploring around, battling enemies, and returning to previous areas later on to discover new secrets to help you along the way. For the majority of the time, this works well, but only until you find yourself getting lost in places with very little direction on where to go.
While you do have a map (which isn’t given to you at the very start) and a log that keeps track of your current active quests, sometimes things can be too vague and require you to search around for where to move to next. More often than not this will lead you into an area that you’ll be unprepared for, forcing you back to the previous save point that was used. It doesn’t help too much that when you lose all your health that you aren’t brought back to the previous room, so if you saved much further back then expect to redo everything you did up to that point. This can get annoying later in the game when you find some save points stretched out far apart from each other.
Combat is Super Daryl Deluxe isn’t like your normal Metroid-vania style game. You have the ability to customize a pallet of special attacks and moves that you can use on enemies, which can be upgraded and made more powerful as you progress the story. Attacks can range from physical punches and kicks to elemental attacks that cover a wide area. It’s great seeing a large variety of attack options that you can discover or purchase at one of the many shops within the game, leaving a lot of room to change up your play-style whenever you need. Some attacks are clearly better than others, but you can still find a use for every attack and ability you obtain.
The game also has items you can equip to further boost your stats, as well as an experience system that rewards you for killing enemies and completing the different quests you receive from other characters. At various points, it can take a bit to level up and feel strong enough to survive the tougher areas of the game, especially when you’re exploring around and unintentionally enter a place you’re clearly not supposed to be in yet.
While fighting enemies in the many areas of Water Falls High is good, the real treat comes from the boss battles that happen during the story. Some boss fights are fun jokes on classic gaming and pop-culture references, including a goofy twist on Donkey Kong that relates to a school bully, while others are just over-the-top fights related to the plot.
The battles can be challenging and do have clear strategies that you need to discover on the fly, but some of them can be tougher to figure out than others because of how unclear they seem at first. Enemies have visual cues and sounds that indicate the best times to attack and avoid getting hit, but they might not always be clear at first and may require a few tries before you can get past them. Once you have a grasp on how to approach each boss fight however, the battles can be exciting and funny in most instances.
Super Daryl Deluxe is a fun exaggerated take on high school with an outlandish sense of humor. The gameplay is good with solid controls and attack customization, despite the difficulty spikes that will pop up from time to time. The visuals are great and take most aspects of the game to a fun extreme that will pay off in one way or another. Those that enjoy action games with a hint of exploration will find something good here that will make them have a good laugh along the way.
This review is based on a digital review code for Super Daryl Deluxe for the PlayStation 4, provided by Dan & Gary Games.