Take urgent care of the world's unluckiest patient, Bob, with your very own shaky hands. As the would-be surgeon Nigel Burke, perform all kinds of crazy surgeries to try to save his life -- or fail hilariously in the process while poor Bob... Well, dies. Continue Reading
Release Date: 22/05/2015
Available on: baseSystems
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a physics-frustration game made by Bossa Studios. Similar in vein to cult hits ‘Octodad’ and ‘I am Bread’, this gruesome exercise is a battle against frustration as you attempt to successfully complete major operations in the guise of the world’s clumsiest surgeon.
Straight from the ‘options menu’, which in itself is an interactive physics challenge, the theme and humour becomes apparent. It’s clearly set in the late 80s and there are all sorts of hidden Easter eggs that’ll give you laughs and pleasant surprises galore. ‘Clumsy first person surgery’ is not a genre that appears that often.
There’s no doubt that the game is gruesome. The game is designed to make it extremely difficult to carry out a smooth operation. You are going to end up cutting your patient’s face in half with the circular saw at some stage. You may drop equipment into their bodies more than once, and you’ll certainly get covered in blood. However, in a wise design decision - none of that matters as long as your patient survives long enough to complete the single objective. If you have to carry out a heart transplant, all you need do is chuck any organs in front of the heart out of the way and put the new heart in the correct place. Mission accomplished!
Precise or Messy Techniques…You Choose
One redeeming feature of Surgeon Simulator 2013 is the choice that it offers the player. Right from the first level, you can choose whether you want to be precise and cut through the rib cage of your trusting patient - or you can resort to using the claw hammer. The latter is easier, but you’ll score less points. Each operation can be completed in a number of different ways, which can alleviate the frustration somewhat. Personally, had the hammer not been an option, I’m not sure I would have had the patience to get past that first heart transplant.
With great difficulty comes great reward. You are scored and graded at the end of each successful surgery. Using the less subtle tools will get you lower grades - but even this provides a feeling of overwhelming accomplishment, even if it took you 20 attempts to get it right. Imagine then the utter jubilation one must feel on achieving the highest grade following a delicate and gentle procedure!
Operating with a Sense of Humour
Bossa Studios weren’t afraid to take the game to extreme levels of silliness. It’s a very self-aware title, and nothing demonstrates that more than the ridiculous and rather innovate zero gravity environment. Yes, that’s right - you are challenged with completing delicate operations without the aid of gravity. Tools, syringes and vital organs will hover menacingly around you. Accidentally nudging something can send it spinning out of your reach forever. It’s great fun the first time you play it - having to repeat it, sadly, is much less enjoyable.
One of the game’s core components and keys to hilarity is also its primary downfall. The physics engine is not good. It’s unpredictable, it’s buggy and it seems to behave differently from one moment to the next. In small doses, it gives you a laugh a minute - actually setting yourself to try and complete the game however can make the glitches and lack of subtlety maddening. The game could have benefited from a slightly tighter and more reliable physics system without losing some its humour.
When you’re not surrounded by a group of friends or loved ones - or even if the easily annoyed among us are - then you’ll find Surgeon Simulator 2013 to be an intensely frustrating experience. For every minute you spend having fun, at least 10 will be torture. This results in a creation that a lot of people are not going to enjoy playing. Many will struggle through the first level and give up on the game from there. It’s clear that the game is aimed at two particular markets - the casual person who’s looking for a silly party game, and the hardcore completionist who prides themselves on being able to beat the hardest of games.
There’s always room for games to be challenging, it’s something I welcome. However, some games can go way too far with the difficulty level, and I think this is an area where Surgeon Simulator 2013 steps over the mark much too soon in the gameplay experience.
More disappointing than the heavily subjective issue of challenge and difficulty however is the use of repeated content. In the original version of the game there are only three operations, which you then repeat in different environments. Perhaps this hints toward the point I made earlier about Bossa Studios looking to make a party game - it’s a trait you wouldn’t associate with games that expect a person to sit there and play through a second or third time. The change in environments doesn’t really do enough to hold interest, especially when you factor in the new level of frustration that they introduce.
An attempt at an operation within a moving environment can be ended at any time by an unfortunate bump in the road - something the player has no control over. This isn’t fun - it’s just annoying.
A Youtube Friendly Experience
Watching someone else play it is hilarious. Watching personalities struggle through operations on YouTube is funny. Playing it with friends is great for a laugh. Playing it on your own? Enjoyment quickly dissipates. The first time I played Surgeon Simulator 2013, I was sat with my wife who came to take a gander after it caught her eye. We were in tears of laughter, if not slightly grossed out, within minutes. Coming back to it on my own to get further through the game was a different matter entirely.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 then is a game that will divide opinion. It’ll be a smash at social gatherings, but on your own all you’ll want to do is smash your keyboard.
Surgeon Simulator is developed by Bossa Studios Ltd.