Samuel is a loser.
Born with a siver spoon in his mouth, fleecing off his father’s success and treating the whole world like a piece of discarded chewing gum, Samuel desearves to meet a bit of bad luck.
Samuel’s certainly on track, and after a date gone wrong with his girlfriend, Samuel follows her across a road to find that instead of bad luck, he’s staring death in the face.
Thankfully Death is an alright dude, more streetwise than Samuel, but not quite able to perform a kick-flip.
Death brokers a deal with Samuel and soon enough Sam is back on earth, with one simple task, to survive 24 hours. Unfortunately for Sam, things aren’t quite that easy, because the one guy who has never done anything for himself (or anyone else for that manner) must now do everything manually.
On the surface, it all sounds pretty easy, get up, make a drink, drive to work, perform a few simple tasks, you can be sure 99.9% of people perform far more trival tasks on a daily basis, but this is all a little too much for Samuel.
So things begin and poor Sam is about to pass out. Ooooops, don’t forget to breath Sam, using X and B you can inhale and exhale, and routinely doing so should keep you upright for a few more seconds until your spine gives way on you (that’s right, we take simple things like keeping our body upright for granted) hit up and Sam will straighten up, but by this time Samuel will be just about blind… That’s right the silly fool forgot about blinking, so a few taps of the A button and your view will clear up and you might be able to see your way.
Next task is simple enough. All you need to do is walk across the room, but sure enough putting one foot in front of the other requires some skill and you’ll have to alternate the triggers to make Samuel walk. Sure enough Sam will struggle and no doubt you’ll try putting your leading leg forwards again causing the poor soul to crumble to the ground like a sack of spuds.
By this point, you’ll just about be on your way to completing the first level and in total there’s 8 to venture through, The actions vary, and the story moves along in a perfectly balanced pace, you’ll soon be driving, and sure enough there’s no automatic transmissions here, but I’m sure swerving round grannies while shifting gear and trying to hit 150kmph for an achievement will prove simple enough with a bit of practice, while blinking, and breathing that is.
Throughout the 3-4 hours story, you’ll come across a variety of characters, Death who is then an admirer of War, and when Samuel get’s into work there’s a couple of friendly faces and his dad (I didn’t call him friendly). Gameplay is mixed up a little with various challenges allowing you to forget about blinking, or maybe even breathing, but instea tasking you with other tasks such as shooting robots or taking on Satan on a sword fight. On top of the various characters and locations you’ll come across there’s a constant humour that’s nothing short of excellent, Sure Death get’s on your nerve’s a little bit, reminding you not to die, and even later in the game telling you you can’t, but that’s all part of the appeal, because as much as he annoys you, he’s supposed to and it makes the character even more part of your adventure.
Following a complex rythym action style, a good rythym is your key to success. On any given level, First time round you’ll probably scrape through within a couple of attempts, but revisiting either for a speed run, or through chapter select once you’ve completed the game, you can go for completeing the set section in the fastest time possible, and this is where you’ll really get a feel for the rythym of the game and how easy it is once you’ve got the balance and rythym.
I’ve played a number of games by the Developers Curve Digital over the years, and slowly but surely they’ve been building quite a big name. Manual Samuel is only going to help them grow because this is one of their most impressive title to date. The graphics are sharp without blowing your mind, but the way everything falls together is what really takes your breath away (and that’s nothing to do with the B button either). The cartoon like theme, the blinding effect that slowly blurs your view when (not if) you forget to blink, the voice acting is top-notch, and there’s more than enough humour to keep you chuckling through to the end.
Sadly there are a few hiccups, the length of the game is a little dissapointing, and the frustrating controls do a great job of highlighting the difficulty of doing everything manually, but time and time again you’ll be left wandering if they could have been implemented in a slightly better way. While short there’s also an air of repetition as some tasks do feel very familiar, but once again the light hearted humour keeps you going through any tough spots.