‘HOLY FECES!’ is commonly thrown around in Manual Samuel and to be honest it would be the best way to describe this game. It’s both good and bad, having it’s fair share of joyful moments whilst also containing many tedious experiences. You take on the role of Samuel a rich, lazy, good for nothing who stumbles upon death, he manages to get himself the deal of a lifetime/death-time when death allows him to live for 24 hours on the condition that he must do so manually, if Sam succeeds he stays alive, if not, well he doesn’t. Living manually means he must breath, blink, move limbs and keep posture all by the power of the player.
Gameplay can make or break a game, it’s unfortunate that whilst it’s rather innovative, it suffers from the not so intuitive controls. The play through itself I considered quite a chore which is a shame and to be honest the control scheme appears to be at it’s best, if any of the controls were changes I feel that the journey would have been a complete write-off. Making use of both bumpers and triggers to control the arms and feet respectively along with the core X, square, circle buttons for blinking, breathing in and out made the boss fights or any combat sequence confusing. Now there is a driving section which was quite enthralling as you try to dodge elderly people that are attempting to cross the road, just stay alert, look both ways and be prepared to brake.
When it comes to difficulty there isn’t a whole lot to find difficult, sure there were moments where i vividly remember cursing out loud due to the controls or any of the fight sequences, but generally you are just living. The final boss fight itself wasn’t so much hard as it was just a re-try grind, you would just have to play through, figuring out the tactics being used and then just rinse and repeat your way through the fight, very much a trial by fire.
Sondre Jensen and Ozan Drosdal provide the soundtrack which I feel is generic, the kind of music you would find in the platformer’s of recent years. Childlike, upbeat but can show a little darkness when needed. Voice acting adds a nice touch with over 600 lines of dialogue that assist in bringing the gag’s to life, usually I have found that when games try to be humorous without this feature the jokes fall flat fast, try to save that ten times faster.
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