Surgeon Simulator 2013 was a flawed game that could still offer hours of fun and gruesome hilarity in the right environment. Let’s take a look at what a sequel would need to do to become a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
One of the things that I noticed when playing Surgeon Simulator 2013 was that it seemed to trap itself between being a game for parties and social gatherings and a game that someone can sit down and play on their own. Nothing represented this conflict better than the way a player had to progress through the levels - completing one operation unlocked another, single operation. For single players this is fine - although the game can become maddening if there’s no one there watching or taking it in turns with you. For social play, this isn’t so great because you’re limiting choice.
A suggestion for the sequel would be to make use of a more horizontal progression system - for example, have all of the basic surgeries in the hospital theatre unlocked at the start. In this system, completing a heart surgery would then unlock the heart surgery that takes place running through the corridor - and then completing that would unlock the moving ambulance and so on. This way, there’s still that sense of progression for the single player, while the group players have a little bit more choice for quick sessions.
Now, I know the game was meant to be hard, and that clunky controls are a part of its appeal. However, on some platforms, the controls just didn’t work at all - especially on the consoles. Even with the accuracy of a mouse and keyboard, there was still something off that made the game cross the line between being fun and being frustrating. It would be great if they could work on making the game react more accurately to player inputs - just to make it a wee bit more accessible to a larger number of players.
Why is my Arm There??
One of the oddest characteristics of Surgeon Simulator 2013 was the placement of the player’s singular arm. If you were to look upon Nigel, you would notice that his arm comes jutting out from his chest rather than being attached to his shoulder. What this means for gameplay is that anything that is underneath his arm is obscured, which was again a source of frustration. I’m guessing this was a compromise of design, but it’s something I’d like them to take a second look at.
New Environments, Operations and Tools
Any sequel should look to expand the content of the original. Surgeon Simulator did an OK job of adding different environments and mechanics to the operations, although some were more successful than others.
In a sequel, I’d like to see new environments - but ones with a bit more thought behind them. Why not have one taking place in a battle recreation, for example? Put the player in a tent, and restrict them to using era-appropriate tools - rusty old forceps, alcohol as pain medication and so on.
Give the player more variety in operations. Even with the Anniversary Edition, only having five different operations that are repeated in different environments is a bit on the light side - let’s have surgeries like hip replacements, amputations or hand transplants.
They could also include more tools and syringes - how about if a patient is on the verge of losing too much blood, they add a syringe that would immediately stop the heart and halt all blood flow - obviously with a syringe that would do the opposite for when the error that caused the bleeding has been corrected. We had access to a laser cutter, so why not give us some more slightly over the top tools? How about a hand held vacuum cleaner for removing awkwardly placed organs?
Please, no More Moving Environments
One thing I wouldn’t like to see in a sequel is even more moving environments. I think having one is more than enough, and the addition of an extra one in the Anniversary Edition didn’t really do anything to help the game. At the very least, they should consider removing the possibility of the movement causing an instant failure or rendering the operation impossible to complete. Better variety and looking at different mechanics would be my suggestion.
Two Arms are Better Than One… Right?
Octodad is another physics based movement game that garnered a lot of attention. If you’re not familiar with it - you control an Octopus masquerading as a man, and the aim is to help him carry out mundane tasks while trying to control his limbs. In co-op mode, assignment of limbs was quartered between two players - right arm and left leg to one, right leg and left arm to the other.
Surgeon Simulator could incorporate a similar idea - give the player character 2 arms, and have one controlled by each player in local co-op mode. This would take advantage of the environment where the game is at its best, as a hilarious and comical social game.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 was certainly a game that showed promise, even if it was ultimately let down by frustrating gameplay and a lack of varied content. Perhaps with some of these suggestions, the next instalment could be a bigger success.