Manual Samuel Review

A hilarious car mishap

Returning to reviews in the post-New Year period is quite a procedure, you know. Defending against work, the apathy of the Christmas-gift season completely blocks all mechanisms of life and switches the body into manual control mode. This is when you have to alternately move your legs towards the computer, with incredible willpower transmit impulses to your fingers and press the necessary keys, filling out an electronic sheet. And to see what exactly is being filled out there, it wouldn’t hurt to blink occasionally. Well, and also to supply oxygen to the lungs.

In short, in Manual Samuel, I felt right at home. Except for the fact that the main character of the game has a slightly more delicate problem – he’s dead.

Enduring the trials of hell

Taking on a lethal dose of a truck, the wealthy idler Sam resolutely refuses to accept his fate and stand in the queues of the hellish labor market. Luckily for him, Death turns out to be no less of a slacker and agrees to make a deal. If Sam lives his usual day, manually controlling all processes in his body, then so be it, he will remain among the pitiful little people.

Despite its conciseness, the setup gives hope for a quality pastime. There is something reminiscent of Sir Terry Pratchett in it – more precisely, not something, but a whole piece of his “Reaper Man”, but this only adds to the interest. Literary borrowings in games are always welcome, especially when authors turn to genre benchmarks like “Discworld”.

In reality, however, there are few similarities. The humor here is many times less inventive and tends towards simple toilet jokes. At first, some of them work, but the straightforwardness and monotony of the themes quickly nullify the effect.

Especially the monotony of the themes. The game laughs at the same things for an indecently long time and seems to enjoy it much more than you do. No other reason was found for the fact that the narrative is built on several jokes, running as a thick red line up to the final credits. So, the main repertoire consists of the following numbers:

  • Death is learning new tricks on its skateboard.
  • Someone uses the word “guano” as an insult.
  • Someone notices that Death is a guano skateboarder.
  • Death uses the word “guano” after a failed kickflip.
  • Satan uses the word… well, you understand.

War, chaos, and adventure

The real object of mockery here is the player himself and his clumsy attempts to deal with a spoiled body. It’s like an elaborate QWOP or Octodad, where instead of an Absolutely Ordinary Person, we are given a poorly controlled bundle of limbs and organs, spread out on a gamepad (keyboard strictly contraindicated) in a deliberately mocking manner.

When the comedy is gameplay-oriented rather than scripted, it becomes truly amusing. Sam can barely stay on his feet, so even a normal morning turns into a series of complex QTEs. Getting ready for work, he can lose consciousness while brushing his teeth, blind himself by splashing hot coffee in his eyes, and wet himself on the floor of the wardrobe. How many of you can boast the same? Well, no, I don’t even want to know.

Naturally, the tasks pile up with each new level. Soon you have to drive a car, maneuvering between ubiquitous old ladies, and collect robots from radioactive materials. Considering that it is practically impossible to perfect the basic skills of walking and wetting eyeballs, with the appearance of complex challenges, the game becomes fantastically absurd and, more importantly, extremely fun. Approximately two-thirds of it can be enjoyed sincerely.

Embarking on a childhood adventure

And then, alas, Manual Samuel sheds the mask of a foolish but pleasant guest and turns into a guest who stays for an impromptu sleepover and dips a wet spoon into the sugar bowl. Not to mention the gags, blown up to a futile parody of “South Park,” the mechanics run out of steam in the last few chapters. Instead of short mini-games, a second-rate browser arcade with enemy squads and, as it turns out, horribly unresponsive controls abruptly kicks in. It does not enhance the dull and monotonous battle with the main boss at all.

The ending is irritating and greatly spoils the overall impression. It feels like the game deliberately stretched out the gameplay for an extra 30-40 minutes, just to surpass the point where Steam no longer refunds money for the game. The joke with the title of the final achievement (“No Refunds!”) takes on a somewhat grim tone in this context.

If it weren’t for the false note at the end, Manual Samuel would have barely maintained the level of a good game with one idea. Despite all its aimlessness, it is original and amusing – but not enough to endure it until the end.

Manual Samuel
Curve Digital
Perfectly Paranormal
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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