Originality can sometimes be hard to find when so many games are released back to back like they are now. With so many games coming out with similar controls and themes, I often feel like I’m just going through the motions from game to game. When I got Manual Samuel, I knew that was about to change. After being whacked so hard he has to remind himself how to walk, Sam ends up stumbling into a situation that ends with his death. Normally death is the end of story, but this time it is just the beginning.
After making a less-than-fun deal with Death, Sam must perform all of his body functions on purpose. This ranges from walking, using one leg and then the other, to breathing, having separate buttons for inhaling and exhaling. By making all of these things tied to buttons on the controller, the game creates a unique game that most players will not have experienced before. What makes this even more crazy is when two players fire up the game’s coop mode and each control various body functions. The default control scheme has each player controlling one hand, one leg, breathing in or out, and either Sam’s mouth when chewing/talking or eyes when he needs to blink.
By having so many different controls, Manual Samuel manages to be challenging while being funny and different. This sort of mania translates well into the game’s various scenes including driving a car and even some fighting. All of these scenes are complimented with a bright, silly art style that matches the game’s consistent comedy. Since the game doesn’t run too terribly long, I never got tired of this art style or the ridiculous nature of the game’s characters. Granted, I don’t think the soundtrack is terribly memorable, but I won’t soon forget Manual Samuel’s portrayal of Death and Satan himself.
Showing up rather late in the game, Satan plays a small part in the game, but manages to make up one of the hardest sections in the entirety of it. In fact, this one section nearly made me and my fiancée quit playing since we couldn’t work together well enough to beat it. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue except you can’t switch a save from coop to single player (or back again), meaning that had we quit, I would have had to play the whole game again from the beginning. Besides this, I can’t say we had many issues throughout the game.
Besides the single player and co-op campaign, there is also a time attack mode that unlocks each stage once they have been completed in the campaign. These time attack stages can be completed to earn either bronze, silver, or gold medals. Personally, I don’t enjoy most modes like this, but it feels fun in Manual Samuel due to the gameplay of the game. Due to the time attack mode and the natural hilarity of the campaign, I keep finding myself going back to the game to find more goofy situations I can get Sam into.
To be honest, there isn’t much else to talk about regarding this game. Manual Samuel is a fun game with a goofy cast of characters, light-hearted comedy, and strange gameplay. The campaign is a little on the short side, but it feels like if it went on too much longer, the gameplay would become stale and more annoying than funny. I would say the game manages to find a nice flow while also being consistently funny and engaging. The game isn’t going to win any GOTY awards or anything, but it is definitely a unique challenge that I’m glad I got to experience.
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