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Review: Surgeon Simulator 2013Bossa Studios game jam Steam Greenlight indie PC
Developer: Bossa Studios
Publisher: Bossa Studios
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: April 19, 2013
ESRB: N/A (M suggested)
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
With a wealth of video games at our disposal, gamers often find themselves flocking to their favorite genre time and time again. There’s nothing wrong with taking security in games which are expected to all be similar, but this behavior often leaves us missing innovative new games. As of late, it seems that only indie developers are willing to push the boundaries into strange new territory. Such is the case with Bossa Studios’ latest game.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 began as a title crafted for a game jam. These events encourage developers to all create within the same timespan, often with a theme, and seeing what they come up with. Bossa made a game with a complex control scheme where you operate on patients. The idea was simple and the gameplay was hilarious. The prototype designed in 48 hours drew so much attention that the developers knew they needed to do more. As such, an updated Steam version was born.
In the game, are still a doctor tending to patients. This is accomplished by controlling a single hand of the doctor’s which has a unique input method. Instead of WASD, your left hand fingers are meant to rest over the A, W, E, F, and spacebar keys. Try it and you’ll see that the fingers tend to rest on these keys easily. Each finger on the key corresponds with the digits on the digital doctor’s hand. For example, if your thumb presses down on spacebar, the doctor’s thumb tucks itself in. As for moving the arm around in space, the mouse is used to control distance, height, and angle of said hand.
What do you do with your single doctor hand? Players use it to access a wealth of surgery tools which are required for saving patients. Bone saws, drills, scalpels, and even a hammer are all available. The game doesn’t hold your hand and simply gives the main task at hand at lets you go about it how you see fit. Do you think a rib cage should be demolished via hammer or should you carefully cut the rib edges with a saw? It’s all up to you, although results are often similarly dangerous.
At its core, the experience is one of a puzzle game, albeit with far more interesting things occurring. The main goal in Surgeon Simulator 2013 is to do different kinds of transplants. Each has its own strategies to completion, though, which players need to work out before succeeding. There are some obvious hallmarks such as discolored areas on bone and muscle, but even then things can still be unclear at times. If you ever feel stuck, just go crazy inside the patient’s chest, head, or other cavity and see if something changes. Just don't poke around too madly or you'll bleed the poor souls out entirely and have to start over.
If this all sounds weird then that’s because it is. You could be a lifelong gamer or one who has only played a few games before, but in either case, Surgeon Simulator 2013 is hard to control. This turns out to be a beautiful feature of the game as its hilarity can be shared with almost anyone (as long as they’re not squeamish). You’ll spend most of your minutes and hours fumbling about and barely accomplishing goals. Still, the fun comes from struggling against the controls and seeing all that can go wrong.
Despite your best efforts, everything will go wrong. A carefully held drill may still inadvertently slice into the side of your patient, costing them valuable blood. Your high tech calculator/watch might snap off and fall into the patient’s exposed chest. You might try to place a kidney into a jar only to have it tumble off onto the ground. Most of this is due to the player’s mistakes, although there are some glitches which can cause tools to be wedged in the weirdest ways. Regardless, the game is focused so heavily on not being serious that glitches may in fact be a benefit. Well, most of the time anyway.
Taking care of patients in a pristine hospital is only the half of it, though. Once you think you’re a pro doctor is when ambulance missions open up. These present you with the same surgeries as before, but within the confines of an ambulance. This means tools will be bouncing around and all over the place during the surgeries. Everything becomes more difficult when fire extinguishers, cups, pens, and scalpels start flying onto your patient. And yet, it becomes more of a wickedly hilarious challenge. That’s not the end though as the game offers an even more difficult scene for surgery if you get far enough.
Visually, the game stands up well with 3D depictions of your unintentional surgical rampage. Blood squirts out when you jab any meaty parts of the patient, bones crack and fragment into little pieces, and surgical tools look just as they should. The gameplay is so compelling that the graphics did not even need to be adequate, but it’s a bonus that they are. The poor patients are rendered as unconscious, innocent beings who you massacre right and left because you can’t help but fumble everything.
Bossa Studios also added a great deal of gags and things to see beyond the surgical ward. It’s fun to experiment and see if you can find a use for specific items, or even different hand gestures for the doctor’s one arm. Steam Achievements range from the expected (beat a level) to hilarious. For example, why - under any normal circumstances - would you ever throw every tool onto the floor in a fit? The Achievements encourage this behavior because it’s likely you’ll do much of it of your own accord.
This is not a game for everyone. If you hate humor or not being in total control of a game then you’re going to be frustrated beyond belief. However, if you’re open to a mostly meaningless but enjoyable game then Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a great experience. It’s one of those games that is simplistic enough to grasp but difficult enough to keep people playing. Chances are, the thrill of playing will wear off soon enough, but for the hours of hilarity you get with it, Surgeon Simulator 2013 is completely worthwhile.
+ Creative control scheme is difficult but fun
+ Variety of tools to wreak havoc with
+ Only becomes more ridiculous the further you progress
- Not enough surgery variety
- A few glitches can cause annoyance as opposed to amusement
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
If you abhor silliness then stay far away from Surgeon Simulator 2013. If, however, you could stand to have some levity in your day then give it a look!
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