Perfectly Paranormal’s Manual Samuel is an animated sidescrolling adventure in which players have control over the protagonist’s bodily functions and have to survive a whole day doing everything manually. You have to remember to breath so you don’t collapse due to lack of oxygen, you’ve got to blink so your vision doesn’t go blurry, and you have to move your limbs one at a time to walk, pick things up, and even drive a car.

After he is hit by a septic truck and sent to hell, Sam finds himself making a deal with Death himself to return to life – but Death isn’t going to make it easy. The conditions of the agreement are that Sam must survive 24 hours performing all bodily functions manually and try going about his normal day. As Sam goes about his day trying to hold up his spine and not do the splits, Death seems more bothered about finally landing a kickflip on his skateboard.

This game completely slipped under my radar upon its release and it’s only recently that I spotted the game in the Xbox Game Pass (from which it has now been removed) and the cover art grabbed my attention. Then earlier last week I spotted the game was on sale on the Nintendo Switch store for just £2 and I thought why not! I was in the mood for something new, fun, and a little bit different – and boy did this game deliver.

Right off the bat the game’s animation and style looked right up my street. The cover art of a skateboarder-looking Death holding a human as if he were a puppet, pulling all the strings. Games of a similar vein have never really taken my fancy (I’m looking at you Octodad and I Am Bread) as the mechanics of them just seemed like something I’d find more frustrating than fun. Thankfully this wasn’t the case here (for the most part) and the mixture of the game’s mechanics, animation style, and hilarious dialogue was all a recipe for a good time.

I say not frustrating for the most part as there was an aspect of the game I just couldn’t grasp as easily as the rest – and that was the driving. Thankfully you only need to do this once or twice, but the levels seem to last forever and the controls were a nightmare for me, especially when it came to changing gears (because Death changes your car from an automatic to a manual because he’s a dick). Whilst having to constantly think of what foot is going where and where your hands need to be, Grannys crossing the road are thrown into the mix and you have to dodge them or Death slams his breaks on and you have the tedious task of getting the car going again and going up the gears. Then War is thrown into the mix when she asks for a ride and gets you to randomly stop so she can shoot people – because that’s apparently what she does.

This unique little adventure game will provide you with a couple of hours of genuine laugh-out-loud fun as you play through the story mode trying to just make Sam get through his day – with the co-op mode and time trials adding a little longevity to your good times. The dialogue alone bumps my rating up another star.

Because of the game’s short story mode, the mechanics and dialogue never became tiring or repetitive. On the whole, it’s a generally well-executed idea that just runs with its silliness and works all the better for it. Go ahead and grab it whilst it’s on sale and spend a couple hours with Death, War, and Satan himself… oh, and try not to pee on yourself!

Rating: ★★★★

Developer: Perfectly Paranormal
Publisher: Curve Digital
Directed by: Ozan Drøsdal
Written by:Ozan Drøsdal
Voice Cast: Roger Jackson, Damian Marhefka, Doug Boyd, Ozan Drøsdal
Released: 2016

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