Manual Samuel seems to be an irreverent comedy game where that might involves some form of side scrolling from 2016, GoNNER appears to be a roguelike shooter from 2017, and Next Up Hero looks like a dungeon crawl game from… (checks Wikipedia) last month?! Damn, that’s early to be giving it away for free, but okay!*
Twitch Prime (a part of Amazon Prime) is giving away 21 free games to subscribers, so I decided to check them all out for just one hour each and give my early impressions in exactly 200 words. You can check out my reviews for Pillars of Eternity, Q.U.B.E. 2, Battle Chef Brigade, Metal Slug 3, Twinkle Star Sprites, and The Last Blade in the included links.
This game tries a lot harder to be funny than it tries to be fun. But even though the game has a tacky art style, juvenile dialogue, and a control scheme where it’s hard to put even one foot in front of the other, it’s also obviously clear that these were the developers’ intentions from the start. The story follows Sam, whom the narrator describes as “a rich douche,” who get hit by a truck and sent to hell. He makes a deal with Death that if he can survive 24 hours of functioning “manually,” he can have his normal life back. And by manually, Death really means it. You have dedicated buttons to breathe in and out and to blink, and you’ll pass out or lose eyesight if you don’t do either enough. Each trigger serves as a left or right arm or leg, and anything left is for contextual prompts. Of course, the game is designed around these limitations, so you’re mainly asked to take a shower, eat a meal, and get your clothes on, all of which are done very clumsily. Still, it’s hard to fault a game for doing exactly what it sets out to do.
Manual Samuel is currently available for free through Twitch Prime through July 11th, which is tomorrow!
As this is my first time playing a roguelike, I don’t know if I don’t like the genre, or if I don’t like the game, but either way, I don’t like it. After an initial segment with a friendly whale, you’re thrust right into the roguelike routine with barely a hint of any story. The music is mostly static but also very modern, like something you’d hear at Chipotle. You can jump and adjust your height slightly, create a temporary platform to double-jump off, jump on enemies to damage them Mario-style, or just shoot in the direction you’re facing. The problem here is the absolute vacancy of any variety. There are four or five types of enemies, and all the environments are series of walls and floors. The goal is simple, yet very difficult to obtain: shoot five enemies in a row within a certain time limit, claim the cube that spawns, and repeat until you have six cubes without dying. And after I finally did it, the game asked me to just do it again. The environments might look different each time, but what does that mean when the game seems to be the same thing every single time?
GoNNER is currently available for free through Twitch Prime through July 12th.
Next Up Hero
If it’s not bad, it’s at least for people far younger than me. That’s not to say that the game is easy, by any means. In fact, I found the game to be unreasonably demanding this early in after some laughable beginning sections. But everything from the childish character art to the tween-oriented story about singing out heroes (I don’t get it either) to the short loop of mellow music makes a game that seems a lot more compelling for someone in middle school to secretly play in class than for someone who writes about video games online. Combat varies depending on the fighter, but has a normal attack on the left trigger and a special attack that consumes magic on the right. Other than movement and aiming (this one’s actually twin-stick!), that’s about it. It confused me a bit, but the game seems to run on these communal servers where “echoes” of other players controlled by AI can assist you during battle. I quit before the hour was up when the game crashed after I died, with no way for me to escape to a menu. I can see my nine-year-old sister enjoying this a lot more than me.
Next Up Hero is currently available for free through Twitch Prime through July 13th.
And here are the current rankings:
- Battle Chef Brigade
- Q.U.B.E. 2
- Manual Samuel
- Pillars of Eternity
- Metal Slug 3
- The Last Blade
- Next Up Hero
- Twinkle Star Sprites
*I now see why they’re giving it away for free a month after release...