Straight of the bat, Super Daryl Deluxe is one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever played. On one hand, it’s a 2D platformer meets point & click adventure, on the other hands it’s an in-depth RPG brawler with some of the most best combat I’ve seen in a 2D game. And that’s just the gameplay, don’t even get me started on just how bonkers the story is. But with all this said, developers, Dan & Gary Games have somehow managed to not only make all these idea work but also offer one of the best adventure games I’ve played this generation.
Let’s start off with the basics, you play as Daryl, the newest member of Winter Falls High School. Being the new kid on the block friends aren’t easy to come by, so teaming up with two goons to start a contraband textbook business seems perfectly normal at first. But what starts out as regular business tasks soon turns into time-travelling and multi-dimensional quests to, well find more textbooks.
Obviously, the textbook hunting isn’t the main narrative of the game but is a key element to your progression. The main narrative falls somewhere between Napoleon Dynomite, Bill & Ted and Stranger Things. Now, if you’re wondering what on earth that means then just imagine travelling through time in a history lesson to help a Mongolian Trojan horse infiltrate a Roman fortress or passing 666 musical trials to help Beethoven get his theatre back. Both of these are actual quests in the game and should provide some context to just how out there the quests can get. On paper, these seeming fetch quests or puzzle quests should be quite boring, but due to the personality that Super Daryl Deluxe injects into them they fly-by in an instant and had me urging for more.
One thing I’ll quickly point out is that the game doesn’t feature auto-saves and explicitly lets you know when loading it up for the first time. To save your progress you need to visit the bathroom, luckily there are plenty to be found and I never found myself having to hold it in for too long if know what I mean.
I don’t want to say too much about the over-arching story to avoid spoilers. What I will say is that the game doesn’t do a great job of reminding you there is an overall narrative happening. With most sections playing out in classic point & Click fashion it can be several hours between the interesting but short voiced cutscenes. Much to my surprise, this really didn’t bother me much as I found myself more interested in the inter-connected sub-stories of each student at WFHS.
Now seems like the perfect time to mention the huge D&D influences on the game. Oh yes, Dwarves and Druids is one of the students favourite past-times at WFHS, so naturally having a character level and social level in the game is perfectly normal. Although I liked the D&D references in the game it does make for a pretty lengthy tutorial, you’ll spend around two hours completing pretty simple tasks all to learn about the different items you can find and experience points you can earn. To go one step further Daryl is provided with a character sheet, which can be used to equip different weapons, clothes and accessories you’ll find while on your trans-dimensional quests. Although equipping these items will change Daryl’s appearance on his character sheet, his actual visual appearance in the game doesn’t change – he’s always rocking the slick tash and daddy-cool headband.
What is a real shame is that the extent the developer went through to embed D&D so richly into the game, your actually social level literally does nothing other than providing you with a new quirky title. I would’ve like to have seen this utilised more, maybe offering charismatic stats or bartering opportunities at the different stores, but it appears to be there purely for the sake of it.
So, What about those textbooks? Well, levelling up will not only make you more powerful but also grant you access new combat abilities but to buy these abilities you’ll need to spend textbooks. Alternatively, if you have the perfect set of abilities then you can break your textbooks down into skill points which can be used to level up your abilities, literally making Daryl a Demi-God.
It’s these abilities that honestly offer some of the best combat I’ve ever played in a 2D adventure game. Daryl can equip up to five abilities, including a dash, at once. Each ability offers its own set of stats, including damage percentage and cool-down, much like what we’ve come to expect from a MOBA. This approach to the combat not only allows you to build Daryl however you want but also brings an almost fighting game element to each encounter with a foe. For example, if you only equip big powerful attack with a slow cooldown you’ll need to wait for a good two-seconds after spamming them to attack again. Whereas, if you tactically equipped abilities where their cooldown works together you can create some genuinely wonderful combos. The depth of this combat system completely took me by surprise and as I levelled up I had so much fun playing around with different abilities to see what combos I could string together.
Finally, I cant finish this review without talking about just how down-right stunning Super Daryl Deluxe is. The hand-crafted comic-book aesthetics perfectly work hand in hand with the eccentric story, the animation of Daryl running had me chuckling inside every time and the combat abilities, well, the honestly look incredible.
Super Daryl Deluxe isn’t a game for everyone. some lengthy dialogue sections and neglectful nature of its story will turn some people away. But if you’re looking for a meaty adventure game with thoughtful Point & Click style puzzles, a stunning visual design, hilarious sub-stories and an intuitive combat system then Super Daryl Deluxe is simply a must play.