October 11, 2016
Manual Samuel is a gleefully weird and wonderful game. A colourful, animated take on QWOP, coordination and dexterity is all part and parcel of success in Perfectly Paranormal's knowingly nutty indie title, as hapless, spoilt rich kid Sam must learn to do everything for himself. And we mean absolutely everything, from breathing to walking and talking, blinking, drinking, eating and, well, merely existing.
How did Sam come to find himself in such a predicament? He stepped in front of a speeding lorry, killing him dead and sending him straight to Hell. Striking a deal with Death, Sam gets another shot at life if he can get through a day trapped inside his limp, broken body, taking one step at a time while striving to complete the most rudimentary of tasks. Oh, and be sure to keep that bendy spine straight too!
Manual Samuel starts out simple enough, but soon gets pretty complicated, the game's driving section in particular tangling your fingers up as you pump the clutch, shift gears, hit the accelerator, steer, brake when prompted, all while remembering to breathe in and out. Once Sam arrives at work, he's installing green cores on a production line of robots, before things go horribly awry and you're off on a rampage.
All the time, you're holding one button to inhale then holding another to exhale, tapping X to blink and keep your vision clear, while walking using one trigger to control the right leg and the other to control the left. Even drinking coffee can be difficult, causing Sam to hurl the hot beverage directly into his face if you get the button prompts wrong.
Invariably, things like this happen to Sam as you strive to make it through 24 hours doing everything for yourself, and as such, Manual Samuel is pretty damn funny in a strange, sadistic sort of way. In fact, Manual Samuel revels in its silly, offbeat humour and the game's hand-drawn art style brilliantly complements an all-pervading surreal, anarchic sense of fun. Yet, despite all of this, Manual Samuel does outstay its welcome a tad, especially with its irritating final boss battle.
Still, it's mostly good fun, and there's ample incentive to go back for more with the game's trophies setting various tasks to complete beyond the objectives set before you by simply completing the story. You'll need to race back through the game in Time Attack mode too, attaining a gold medal on each level. Completing the game in co-op is a laugh too, so well worth doing for the trophy.
Manual Samuel is an entertaining and quirky game that's short and sweet, but packed full of tongue-in-cheek moments that you can enjoy alone or with a friend in the hilarious co-op mode. There are some frustrating sequences during the game's latter parts that go on for slightly too long, but all in all, Manual Samuel is deliriously, unapologetically silly and genuinely funny. In short, it's worth a go if you fancy something bright, daft and a little bit twisted.
The narration is good fun, the music fits the game perfectly and the voice performances are fittingly manic and unhinged.
The colourful hand-drawn art style is great and full of character, it's hard not to be charmed by the whole thing and its weird, almost Monty Python-esque sense of humour.
Getting your fingers muddled is all part of the QWOP-style shenanigans, whether you're playing through the story alone or with a friend in co-op. Either way, Manual Samuel is enjoyable.
Brief, but just about long enough, Manual Samuel is worth playing through a couple of times, and there's the challenging Time Attack mode too. A fair few hours of entertainment to be had.
Not a bad list, Manual Samuel's trophies demand a return visit, including a playthrough solo and in co-op, as well as a speedrun through the game's Time Attack mode. There's some funny stuff in there too, obviously. Solid.
Madder than a box of frogs, Manual Samuel is surreal, a bit dark and slightly sadistic, but will bring a smile to your face. There are annoying bits, sure, but overall, Manual Samuel is an enjoyable QWOP-alike that will put your dextrous digits to the test. Holy faeces!