Manual Samuel (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 11.10.2016 1

Review for Manual Samuel on Xbox One

The human body is an amazing achievement. Everyday there's blood pumping through the heart, food making its way around the digestive system, and hundreds of brain synapses firing all at once. It's a complicated system loaded with fail-safes, where a single biological misfire can cause a chemical imbalance, and possibly lead to disaster. One has to wonder how everything manages to keep working. Manual Samuel is aimed at people who take basic functions such as walking and breathing for granted. Samuel is a spoiled, unlikeable jerk who dies before his time. His second chance at life is a comedy of errors, as players attempt to survive one day at work, without forgetting their shoes, falling down the stairs, or attempting to drink coffee with their eyeballs.

Unlike other side-scrolling games, players don't use the left stick or D-pad to move Samuel around. Instead, they press left trigger to move the left leg, right trigger for the right leg. They have to remember to alternate their steps: left, right, left, right. Walking requires a dedicated effort. The average adult blinks ten times a minute, so it's an essential part of this game. By pressing the A button, players can fight off blurry vision. Breathing in and breathing out are relegated to the X and B buttons, respectively. Can't have Samuel collapsing due to a lack of oxygen, right? The hands are controlled via the RB and LB buttons. Anything else that occurs, gamers will just have to play it by ear. Luckily, there isn't a button for hearing.

This control scheme is interesting, since it requires players to be dexterous, or have a mind for strategy. Trying to breathe, blink, and walk all at once is difficult, so sometimes the player has to prioritise. If they're aware of the current situation, then they don't really need to blink, do they? It's all right to be half blind while walking down a corridor. Take a nice deep breath before attempting strenuous tasks, because doing a cumbersome dance on the controller can be problematic. There aren't really any penalties for failure, aside from the narrator making light of Samuel's miserable predicament. However, this is a speed-oriented game, and flopping around like a one-legged toad wastes valuable seconds.

Screenshot for Manual Samuel on Xbox One

The humour tends to be hit or miss. The cut-scenes aren't particularly funny, but everything that's happening in-game is amusing or even hilarious. Trying (and failing) to get through the day is a laugh, and the game offers enough freedom to goof off and make mistakes. The scenarios are also varied and at least a little inventive. Some - like driving to work - run a little long, but the pacing isn't too bad overall. This is a short game, though, so it's worth attempting the time attack and co-op modes, while also figuring out how to obtain all of the hidden achievements.

The controls suffer from a slight delay. This is most noticeable when trying to talk or avoid choking. It's something that can be easily adjusted to. The boss fights can also be annoying, but it's more of a side effect of the controls. At times, players are expected to do the controller equivalent of rubbing their stomach while patting their head. Every now and then, the wrong button gets pressed, Samuel tries to move his right leg twice in a row, and bad things just happen. It's more stressful during speedrun attempts, because a couple of lost seconds might result in missing the gold trophy.

Screenshot for Manual Samuel on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Manual Samuel is a fun little diversion. The control scheme perfectly reflects the absurdity of the premise, and the various objectives keep the game from becoming redundant. Not everything clicks as much as it could, but it's endearing in its own way. This is also the kind of game that's probably at its best when played with friends. If there were more levels, better written characters, and funnier dialogue, this would be a much easier recommendation.

Developer

Perfectly Paranormal

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

After watching the trailer for this, I was immediately put off... Looks extremely disturbing Smilie And from the sounds of it, quite frustrating having to manage all the actions to keep him blinking/moving/breathing/etc.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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