Manual Samuel Review

By Cindy Minguez, 1 month ago
We have a new offering from Curve Digital and Perfectly ParaNormal, a title that will have you laughing out loud as you help the poor protagonist survive a single day in Manual Samuel. Spoiled rich boy Samuel is at a cafe with his girlfriend, and he's forgotten her birthday for the third year in a row. The girl has had enough, and Sam ends up with a bottle to the face. With his jaw broken, he totters out into the street and gets hit by a truck, after which he wakes up in Hell.

Sam's in bad shape and Death, one of the four horsemen, makes him a deal. If Sam can survive 24 hours with the handicap that Death chooses, Death will give him his life back. What is that handicap? You guessed it -- Samuel must do everything manually that once he never had to think about. When you have to consciously decide to blink, walk, and even breathe, how well will you do?

Sam made the wrong girl mad.Sam made the wrong girl mad.

Poor Sam - now he has to keep up with a lot of things that normally worked on their own. As you take control of Sam, you must use cn_X to inhale, cn_B to exhale, cn_A to blink, cn_LT to move the left foot, cn_RT to move the right foot, and cn_up to straighten his spine. In the first chapter, which works as the game's tutorial, you navigate Samuel through his apartment as he learns to move his body, doing the splits or tumbling down the stairs when he takes a misstep, turning blue when he needs to breathe, or the screen going white when he forgets to blink. While it sounds complicated, it's actually not that hard to pick up. Of course, as Samuel's 24-hour journey continues, he has other skills to master.

After the basics, you have to move on to driving a car so that you can get to work. You have to manipulate the clutch, the stick shift, the gas, and the brake...and you can't forget to breathe and blink, of course. After driving, you will move on to even more complicated tasks. While the game's difficulty climbs with each successive chapter, it does so at a nice easy slope so that it's never overwhelming; this is because each of the skill sets builds on what you've learned before. The game plays both easily and quickly with story mode taking about two hours to complete.

Let's drive!Let's drive!

In addition to story mode, the game has a timed attack mode and co-op mode. As you complete each chapter, it's then unlocked in timed attack. The only difference between story and timed modes is that there is a timer in the corner of the screen as you play timed mode; there's no other difference. Co-op can be played at any time by starting a new game. In co-op, two players control Samuel, dividing up jobs however they wish. The default, for example, has one player controlling Samuel's left side and the other the right, but this can be customized so that one player might control walking and breathing, for example, while the other controls arms and blinking. It's up to the players.

This game is funny in a Deathspank way, at times eliciting laughing out loud, but the biggest downside is the repetitiveness of the game and its humor. There are just a few chapters in the story, chapters that will be repeated several times as achievements are collected, so they begin to pall after a while. In the same way, "Holy Feces!" is only funny the first twenty times that you hear it. With the persona of a gangsta punk, Death can especially begin getting on one's nerves rather quickly.

Get up, Sam.Get up, Sam.

The achievements are varied and reasonable, with tasks ranging from something as easy as drinking two cups of coffee to something as bothersome as scoring gold in all chapters of timed attack. No grinding is required unless you count blinking 2,000 times, but this should come naturally as one replays different chapters and modes. With the possible exception of the Gold score in timed attack mode, all of the achievements should be obtainable in under ten hours.

Summary

Manual Samuel is a fun game with its quirky humor and innovative concept. The game is easy to learn and enjoyable to play as one helps Sam through his day, but it can begin to pall from simple repetitiveness as one replays chapters and hears the same jokes a few too many times. With its mostly easy achievement list and fast playing time, it will be a fun addition to most achievement seekers' collections.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Funny
  • Easy to learn
  • Innovative
Negatives
  • Becomes repetitive
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent about 5.5 hours playing the game, finishing story mode, co-op mode, and trying time attack mode, all while earning 18 of the game's 28 achievements along the way. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Cindy Minguez
Written by Cindy Minguez
Cindy has been writing for TA/TT for three years now and is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueTrophies. She's an English instructor at a small college and considered a remarkably cool teacher for knowing all about Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Diablo III.