Surgeon Simulator is a strange game. Now when it comes to games, there are good strange games, bad strange games and strange strange games. Surgeon Simulator, in my opinion, is part of the later pool. There is some good stuff in there as there’s also a ton of bad stuff, but the overall experience is still the strangest one I’ve ever had in my 15 years of gaming.
For any of you who might have lived in a cave, Surgeon Simulator is a darkly humorous over-the-top operation sim game that first came out on PC and at the beginning it wasn’t as convoluted as it is now. It was very simple back then, it only had the heart transplant challenge and like today you controlled the hand and fingers to complete the operation. Well, since then the game has evolved with tons of new stuff added, new operations, new modes and new secrets which I’ll delve deeper as this review goes on.
So the premise is very simple: You are a “surgeon” and you have to execute complex surgeries like heart or eye transplants using only one hand with stupid and deliberate controls that are the cause of all the fun and frustration you’ll find in Surgeon Simulator. Trying to explain in words how the arm controls work is somewhat difficult, but I am gonna try my best, please bear with me. So with the left analog stick you move your hand on the screen, with L2 you bring it down, with R1 and R2 you can just pinch or fully grab a tool to use on the patient and you use the right analog or the built in six-axis feature of the Dualshock 4 to control the wrist movement. The later one, the six-axis, is extremely intuitive and it is quite funny to see someone moving the controller up and down like crazy to break the skull or rib cage with an axe, believe me, it’s stupidly funny!
The best way to describe how the arm controls is by quoting Steam user Lex Averial review: “Get really drunk, lay on your arm till it falls asleep, then try to perform complex surgery. Congrats, you’ve successfully recreated the experience awaiting you in Surgeon Simulator” The main hook of this game is this specific deliberately broken control scheme. Nothing you will try will work. You want to pick up the hammer? Nope, you’ll get stabbed by the LSD inducing syringe close by. You want to pick up the surgical knife to cut out the arteries? Not only that you won’t get it in your first, second or third try, but in the end you will pick up something totally different like scissors or a pencil or something totally useless to you. You want to drill down the rib cage so you can remove it? Sure, but in that process you will drill the patient several not so useful new holes inside his body. I mean the stuff you are tasked to do and the way you do it it’s borderline stupid and illogical, but that’s why you play this game.
Every surgery is a silly over the top totally unique chaotic experience that you cannot find elsewhere! Sure, most of the times the patient will die by blood loss, but who the [email protected] cares? You’ll just restart and use an axe to pull out the teeth; you’ll want to use a plastic bottle to break the rib cage on the heart transplant; you’ll want to use the laser to cut the kidneys out in the kidney transplant; you’ll definitely use the pencils to remove the eyes in the eye transplant; and you will definitely use the hammer to break the skull. You will do all of this stuff just cause well, you can!
As for the visual style and presentation, Surgeon Simulator might make you puke. The visuals are silly, cartoony, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t pack a punch when it comes to being gory. Ripping the organs out of the body looks nasty and at times is so unsettling that might actually make you puke, just so you know. As for variety well, there isn’t much apart from the change of scenery in the different “modes”. I used “modes” cause you will still do the same thing, you’ll still perform the same surgery. But you will have to do it: in a moving ambulance where everything, tools and organs jump all over the place; while transporting the patient in the hospital where the tools and organs come and go; or in zero gravity where everything floats around. So if you thought it was difficult when everything stayed at its place, just imagine when everything is all over the place :D
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, couch coop is coming later this month, so if you thought it was difficult with one hand, just imagine what’s going to happen with two hands…
Bottom Line: Surgeon Simulator is a strange strange game. It has a silly and over the top physics that are the cause of all the fun and frustration. Most of the times, it doesn’t really work, it has a ton of glitches that make the game even harder than it already is, but that’s part of its charm. Surgeon Simulator isn’t a game for everyone, but if you want to try something unique and you are an extremely calm and patient person, it might be actually worth it. Thanks for reading!