Manual Samuel PS4 Review
Publisher: Curve Digital Developer: Perfectly Paranormal Genre: Adventure Players: 1-2
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
Now this is one strange game. Taking control of the titular and jobless Samuel, the son of a rich company owner, it’s not long before he is run over by a truck carrying a septic tank. Samuel is killed and has an encounter with Death himself, and he is then resurrected, although he then has to live his life for 24 hours in a very unusual fashion.
The game has an amusing sense of humour, and it’s certainly very quirky, with Death being a skateboarding hipster, and there is also a plentiful amount of amusing lines of dialogue. After being killed in the above mentioned accident, Samuel is offered his life back by Death just as long as he is able to survive for 24 hours in his new manual state. There’s a sarcastic narrator that tells the story, and he comments when you fail with some of the actions in the game, which will surely get plenty of laughs. The narrator even comments when you skip story scenes, but helpfully puts you up to speed with what is going on thanks to a very quick recap of what you have just skipped. It’s a very quirky game, and has more than enough personality to make it feel entirely distinct.
If you have seen videos for Manual Samuel, then you’d certainly be forgiven for being confused by the game and wondering what on earth is going on with it. It’s a bizarre game to say the least, and one that the the developer, Perfectly Paranormal, describe as a dexterity adventure at its most complex. The game has also been called a narrative adventure, which will make more sense for most.
Trust me though, the game is a lot simpler than it looks. The dexterity adventure description also makes a lot more sense when you actually know how the game plays. You see, Manual Samuel gives you individual control over your characters legs as well as breathing and blinking, and you’ll often find yourself having to multitask. If you don’t blink, the screen starts blurring, and if you don’t inhale and exhale, then Samuel’s face will turn beetroot red or an unhealthy purple, leading to a comedy collapse if you aren’t careful; you then have to get him back on his feet. Walking can also be difficult, with Samuel sometimes doing the splits, and his spine also snapping back if you don’t keep your head held high when on the move.
It’s possible to play the game in either single player or cooperative. With an extra pair of hands, the cooperative mode has you and another player keeping in synch with one another, with each player controlling different actions. Expect plenty of hilarity as you attempt to work your way through the game with someone else.
Whether playing in single player or multiplayer though, the game does take some getting used to, and you may very well experience frustration as you attempt to get to grips with things, although this was obviously intentional; living life as a reanimated corpse was something that the developer obviously didn’t want to come easy for you, and failing in the game often results in Samuel becoming a heap on the floor, which is amusing if nothing else.
As you can probably imagine, the premise of the game sets up plenty of amusing moments, and Manual Samuel is a very witty game at times. Ordinary situations such as communication, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, driving, climbing up and down stairs, and making coffee are made all the more difficult thanks to Samuel’s temporary 24 hour condition. Saying that, the controlling of Samuel is the most difficult part of the game; there’s not much challenge elsewhere, with no real puzzles as such.
There’s some action sections that appear towards the end of the game, but you can’t even die during any of these. They’re a nice change of pace however, and last long enough to appreciate their presence. A couple of annoying bosses do show the game up for its lack of finesse however, as some of your actions during these fights do take awhile to register, which takes a bit of getting used to and proves that this is no action game. The final boss battle in particular is a very tedious fight, and if the fight itself doesn’t become repetitive to you, the dialogue in this battle definitely will.
Even though the game has an idea which could run out of steam, Perfectly Paranormal has managed to keep things interesting, and there’s plenty of variation across the game’s short 2-3 hour running time. This is pleasing, and it’s also pleasing that the game doesn’t feel like it outstays its welcome in any way.
Thanks to the colourful and high quality 2D animation and large character models, Manual Samuel is a visual delight. The game has a very cartoon-look, and it also has some very amusing animations. It’s also fun to look around the game’s environments, as there’s little details that can sometimes be picked up by the eyes, which are often amusing.
While it lasts and at a decently priced £6.49, Manual Samuel is a fun and amusing adventure that is worthy of a play through, and it is quirky and unique as well. There’s a likeable story and a cast of amusing and silly characters, which makes for a memorable experience, and there’s even a time attack mode, which will have some coming back for more. True, this isn’t the type of game that will dramatically change the world, and, while the action of the closing stages of the game is welcome, do also expect the clumsy boss battles to test your patience, while the lack of any puzzle solving may also irk some, particularly in a game that has been compared to Monkey Island by its own developer; a comparison obviously because of the humour as opposed to anything else.