It’s no secret here at GameSpew that Manual Samuel is one of our favourite indie games of recent years.
From developed Perfectly Paranormal, it tells the story of a day in the life of the titular Samuel. Well, I say a day in the life. He’s actually dead. The game starts with him getting hit by a truck. But after being sent to the afterlife, Death decides to give him a free pass: if he can live a regular day where he has to do everything manually, he’ll be given his life back. That means all his usual functions he takes for granted – walking, breathing, blinking – become a hell of a lot harder. You, the player, have to control each and every one of them. It sounds like a ballache, but it’s actually hilarious.
Well, Perfectly Paranormal are back at it with its upcoming game, Helheim Hassle. It’s another game that centres around death and the afterlife – and, as it turns out, it takes place on the very same day of Manual Samuel. Naturally, we’re very excited to try it when it releases later this year. In the meantime, we spoke with Helheim Hassle‘s creative lead, Ozan Drøsdal, to get a better idea of what to expect.
GameSpew: Tell us a little about the thought process that led you from Manual Samuel to the world of vikings and Norse mythology.
Ozan: We were about halfway done with Manual Samuel when we decided that we wanted to create a universe where every legend and mythology is true. We were already hinting towards a Norse Mythology-centred sequel when we put all those runes on Satan’s sword. We also really wanted to see the demons and other various inhabitants of the Manual Samuel hell interact with characters from other mythologies. Norse seemed to be a natural choice since we are Norwegians and Norse mythology is very fascinating, plus somewhat in vogue right now! This also gives us the opportunity to write some nice inside jokes for our fellow Norwegians ;).
What’s with the fascination of the Underworld? 🙂
Something about the underworld is just too funny to me. What do they do all day? What rules are they following? Do the rulers of the underworld ever do paperwork? Why do they bother ruling the underworld at all? Does it pay well?
That’s the kind of thing I wonder about, but also Manual Samuel was about the human body with an underworld theme. We felt like this game having to do with that as well was very on brand!
Tell us about Bjørn, Helheim Hassle‘s main character. How different (or alike) is he to Samuel?
Bjørn is much younger and more naive than Sam. We are following around a duo again just like in Manual Samuel, however with the lack of a narrator this time around Bjørn is also the voice of reason.
He has a much better morale compass. He would never rip those poor demons in half like Sam did! The main difference is that Bjørn speaks a lot more since he doesn’t have to worry about speaking manually.
“We write things that make us laugh. We don’t believe we are that unique, so we cross our fingers and hope that others with a similar sense of humour may find the stuff we make funny.”
Helheim Hassle focuses on puzzle-solving this time around. Bjørn can detach his limbs and roll his head around (which looks like a lot of fun). Can we expect a much more ‘ordinary’ control scheme than Manual Samuel?
Yes, moving around and jumping and such will be much more by the book this time around. However what you need to worry about this time is which avatar you want to move around and jump with at any one time. While also taking into account which of said avatars should be conjoined or split apart. And when I say “avatars”, I of course mean limbs…!
Can we expect any crazy couch co-op action this time around?
We talked about it and it would certainly be possible, however with static puzzles and never being in a position where you need to do several things at once, we didn’t see the point. But looking at it another way, puzzle platformers are co-op games by nature. Your friend can tell you to try flinging your leg on something while watching you play, and we feel that is co-op enough when solving puzzles. They don’t need to be in control of said leg as well.
If you could detach your own limbs at will, what would you use that nefarious skill for?
I would only take my arms and head to work while still lying in bed with my torso and legs!
(That sounds idyllic.)
Manual Samuel relied a lot on humour (which we absolutely loved) – but how do you gauge whether the comedy is hitting the mark? Is it hard to make a comedy-led game?
We write things that make us laugh. We don’t believe we are that unique, so we cross our fingers and hope that others with a similar sense of humour may find the stuff we make funny. But it is always hard to tell if you write something that is genuinely funny, or if you made a joke that, for whatever reason, only you in the whole world likes.
Friends, family and even people trying out the game on conventions and such always smile and nod and encourage the humour, but once the game comes there’ll probably be people that think it is the least funny thing in the world. But that’s being a comedy writer for you; no matter what you make somebody out there will hate your guts.
If it’s not a spoiler to tell us, what is your absolute favourite part of Helheim Hassle that we have to look forward to?
To put this in context I just wanna mention Manual Samuel real quick. Our favourite thing to do is go on YouTube and watch people react to a certain… orphanage scene. We tried to top that in Helheim Hassle and can not WAIT to see people react to it.
(Okay, now we can’t either!)
“[Our third game will be] not as limb-heavy as the previous two games, we are starting to get a weird reputation”
Will there be any Manual Samuel-shaped easter eggs or surprises to look forward to in Helheim Hassle?
Helheim Hassle takes place on the same Tuesday as Manual Samuel so yes, you will recognise many things. Many of them are subtle, some will make you go AHA, and some will make you go, “ah what, I didn’t notice that before you told me”!
Also if you boot up the Switch version of Manual Samuel, you’ll notice some new minor details here and there that tie it further with Helheim Hassle.
Are you looking to put either game on PS5/Xbox Series X when they release later this year?
It would make very little sense to not do it. I don’t know about Manual Samuel but we will certainly try to put Helheim Hassle on the next generation of consoles.
Tell us about the Tuesday Trilogy – the name given to Manual Samuel, Helheim Hassle and an upcoming third game. What beans can you spill on the third part of it?
We go back and forth on what the third part will be like. All I can say is that it is gonna be divine. Not as limb-heavy as the previous two games, we are starting to get a weird reputation.
“Helheim Hassle is six times bigger and better than Manual Samuel in every way”
We know you shouldn’t have a favourite child but: Manual Samuel or Helheim Hassle?
You never forget your first, but Helheim Hassle is six times bigger and better than Manual Samuel in every way. Thank you Manual Samuel, for teaching us lots of stuff about making games so we can make what I often refer to as the “Taj Mahal of indie games” aka Helheim Hassle.
Finally, and most importantly: will there be any kickflips in Helheim Hassle?
Y’know, kickflips do get mentioned a lot in Helheim Hassle. While it is not as kickflip-influenced a game as Manual Samuel, you’ll certainly get some more answers around the skateboard lore of it all!
Helheim Hassle is set to release on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch this spring.