Manual Samuel (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Colin Beauchamp 24.12.2018

Review for Manual Samuel on Nintendo Switch

Videogames focused specifically on comedy aren't something that show up often. A large number of titles will weave in a comedic aspect as a part of the experience, but seeing something where the basis of it is its humour isn't nearly as frequent. Unlike those, Manual Samuel is a wacky, comedic game, with an intentionally chaotic and unwieldy control scheme. Although it sounds intriguing, there's plenty of ways for something designed this way to go wrong. Does it succeed in creating a memorable experience, or does it fall flat on its face?

Manual Samuel has an interesting premise. The protagonist is a rich man named Sam, whose life suddenly goes downhill in the span of a few minutes, leading to his death. He does run across a stroke of luck after stumbling upon the grim reaper himself in the middle of Hell, who offers to bring him back to life, but on one condition: Sam has to survive for 24 hours, but with the twist of him having to do everything manually, meaning he has to consciously think about his body's functions at all times. If he succeeds, he'll be able to live again normally.

As expected, the controls are quite hectic. When you're told to do everything manually, that does mean everything, from controlling each specific limb, breathing in and out, and so on. It's always chaotic enough to remain interesting, but not so punishing that it becomes frustrating. There are also a different variety of special actions to perform (such as brushing Sam's teeth), but it still ties into the overall design coherently.

One example refers to the first main level, where Sam must prepare to go to work by showering, getting dressed, etc. It's tough initially, but eventually certain rhythms are developed, and controlling Sam gets easier to do. This is satisfying to get used to, because despite many actions being so different, it still ties into mastering a certain level of dexterity. There are also a few stages where certain gimmicks (which will not be spoiled) are involved, but these tend to be the weakest parts of the experience since they almost always end up dragging on.

Screenshot for Manual Samuel on Nintendo Switch

The main focus, of course, is Manual Samuel's humour. It's constantly tossing joke upon joke, going for comedic effect as frequently as possible. Sure, comedy is ultimately subjective, but even if some jokes don't land for you, there's so many in succession that you're likely to laugh at a few of them if nothing else - although again, everyone's sense of humour is different, so it's understandable for one to not find this that funny. Still, even if not bursting out laughing, much of the dialogue is at least entertaining, which is fine as well. It's also fully voiced, which is a neat touch.

The biggest thing going against Manual Samuel is its short length. Even on the first play-through, it takes less than two hours to complete, and while this would be easier to stomach if every moment of it was great, there are those aforementioned gimmick sections which do bog down the experience. It's still an entertaining game, but it could definitely benefit from a few more levels.

Aside from the main campaign, there are a few other bonuses as well, like a bunch of nice comics, a time trial mode for speed-running, and even a decent number of achievements and secret messages hidden in levels, if you're willing to mess around a bit, that is, and, finally, there's even a co-op mode. It's still not a lengthy title, but it does offer some incentive to go back and experiment a little.

Screenshot for Manual Samuel on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Manual Samuel is a unique little adventure with some good moments and a bizarre (to its benefit) control scheme. It's notably short, and some levels do lean on the repetitive side, but it's rare to see something quite like this. It has a lot of soul to it, much of which is due to focusing so heavily on comedy. It's enjoyable overall and is worth looking into if you don't mind playing something a bit different than usual, even if it could have been executed better.

Developer

Perfectly Paranormal

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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   

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