After an argument with his girlfriend, Rich Idiot with No Day Job Samuel is hit with a septic truck and sent to Hell. There he meets Death, who offers to give Sam a second shot at life under one condition: Sam has to do every action from walking to breathing manually for twenty four hours, otherwise he'll die for real and stay in Hell. With his other option being staying dead and getting a job in Hell, he quickly agrees to the deal, unaware just how crazy his adventure is about to get.
As the title says, the player has to control Sam's actions manually through a number of key commands. Failure to do so will impede Sam's functions until they are addressed (such as the screen going blurry if Sam doesn't blink often enough and lets his eyes dry out).
Manual Samuel contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: The denizens of Hell are quite jovial and polite, except for Satan and War.
- Amazon Chaser: Death has a crush on War, who is much more no-nonsense and tough than he is.
- Amusing Injuries: Sam keeps getting beaten and bruised throughout the game, starting with a concussion courtesy of his pissed-off girlfriend and getting worse from there. Nothing can actually kill him outside of the cutscenes ( where he does die, twice - but gets better each time), though, or even seriously slow him down, making them this trope.
- Black Comedy: Very much so, ranging from War casually shooting passersby during the driving sequence to Sam and Death accidentally blowing up an orphanage (since orphans have Incorruptible Pure Pureness, they all get sent to Heaven).
- Brick Joke: After giving Tony the barista a huge sum of cash as a tip, he says he's going to start his own cafe. Much later, you can see a Tony's Cafe in the background as you fight the robots. You can also destroy it, if you so choose.
- Butt-Monkey: Bad things happen to Sam in this game. A lot.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Satan's hitpoint bar as the Final Boss is measured in "Patience".
- Character Development: Samuel turned from Rich Idiot with No Day Job into a decent person after going through the tribulation in the game. One of the examples of his growing kindness is him spending his one wish from Death to revive the children, whom he unintentionally killed after accidentally blowing up an orphanage during his fight against the robots.
- Developers' Foresight: Failing repeatedly at a task, or doing certain horrible things to Sam for the fun of it can merit new dialog from the Narrator. Doing the arduous task of getting him up his stairs, only to throw him down it again, for example...
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Death's a bit dense, but he's a pretty friendly guy all things considered.
- Fictional Currency: The currency of Hell consists of, from highest unit to lowest, the Shred of Life, the Quality of Life, the School of Life, the Sound of Life, the Meaning of Life and finally the Thug Life. Every soul starts out with at least a Shred of Life, but will need to spend some on gaining entrance to Hell.
- The Grim Reaper: Death is a skateboard riding hipster, he first offers Sam the chance to get out of Hell and acts as his guide throughout the game.
- Gosh Dangit To Heck: "Feces" instead of "Shit". Can be either an endearing part to the game's charm, or an Overly Long Gag that becomes less than charming by the third act. Is subverted once after Sam unintentionally blows up an orphanage and 300 orphans. Then Death delivers an Oh, shit.
- Eye Scream: Some mistakes can cause instant blinding, such as missing taking a drink of coffee and splashing it in your face or dropping a canister filled with toxic gasses.
- Hell: It's not that much different from the real world, except that you're dead. Everyone in Hell has to get a job and work for eternity, something that Lazy Bum Sam is horrified by.
- Heroic Mime: While Sam does talk in the opening cutscene and (kinda/barely) in some QTEs where you have to land on the right letters to form a sentence, that's about it.
- Humongous Mecha: Sam has to get into one at one point to fight the robots who have Turned Against Their Masters.
- Jerkass: Sam at the beginning of the game callously blows off his girlfriend's frustration at him forgetting her birthday three times in a row. His near death experience causes him to become a better person.
- Narrator: An unseen narrator describes everything that happens, and makes snarky comments when the player fails at tasks. He also doesn't like Sam much, and constantly comments on how generally useless he is.
- Non-Nude Bathing: One of the first activities in Sam's day is to take a shower, which he does with his boxers still on. The Narrator doesn't even remark on this in any way.
- Pals with Jesus: Somewhat, Samuel and Death form a sorta Odd Friendship as the game goes along.
- Precision F-Strike: Everyone says "feces" instead of "shit" throughout the game... Until Sam's rockets blow up an orphanage and 300 orphans. Then Death goes "Oh, shit".
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Sam, according to the narrator. If you choose to tip the manager at the coffee store too much, the narrator will muse that perhaps Sam just doesn't know the value of money, and note that this isn't the first time he's tipped so generously that the worker quits their job.
- Rhymes on a Dime: The spell that Death uses on Sam."I only get to do these deals annually, but if you really wanna live and biz, you have to do it manually. Also, I will stop speaking in rhymes now. Psssh."
- Satan: The Final Boss of the game, whom Sam and Death have to fight to escape from Hell's prison.
Narrator: Sam can open doors now. Clever boy.
- The child in the Mushroom Orphanage with a teddy bear is wearing the same pajamas as the protagonist in Among the Sleep, who also had a teddy bear.
- After opening a door for the first time after the intro, the narrator says this:
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Sam's "power" is manually controlling his body, which as powers go... isn't really one at all. But then the sentient robots revolt, and someone has to get inside a manually controlled mech suit to fight them - and after decades of being spoiled with automated interfaces, no one else can remember how to control anything manually. Except Sam, who's spent the day being forced to learn in a hurry.
- Totally Radical: Death's dialogue, mixed with a bit of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The robots manufactured by Sam's father's company promptly does this when Death accidentally causes them to receive an overdose of Applied Phlebotinum.
- Upper-Class Twit: Sam just loafs around on his parents' money. Technically he has a job at his dad's robot factory, but he just uses the time to play Flappy Rooster.
- Videogame Caring Potential: You can choose to tip the coffee shop manager at the start of the game, thus making the narrator remark that perhaps Sam isn't all bad. Subverted if you repeatedly tip him, which the narrator interprets as Sam just not knowing the value of money.
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: Admit it, it's kind of fun to intentionally fail at tasks just to make Sam suffer. As mentioned above with Tony's cafe, you CAN actually destroy it, upon which he will run out, lament the loss of his business, and take it back and call Sam an asshole as he runs off in tears. This is COMPLETELY optional and takes quite a lot of dedicated firing to utterly destroy said cafe.
- What the Hell, Player?: The narrator will passive-aggressively call you out for skipping the main credits.
- You Have Researched Breathing: Justified; You need a tutorial to learn how to walk and blink, after getting a concussion and coffee thrown in your eyes.