Indie Review: Surgeon Simulator 2013
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a humorous over-the-top operation sim game, created by Bossa Studios as the full successor to the original title, which was made in 48 hours at the 2013 Global Game Jam.
- Worth The Time?Yes, it's unique and great to play.
- Things LovedIt can be really enjoyable to play and quite hilarious, you can play the game seriously or mess around and have a great time doing either, it's extremely well-made, the game has fantastic graphics, there's good variety.
- Things HatedSome physics glitches can cause annoyance, controlling can be a little tough in delicate situations, the Kidney transplant can feel a little restricted.
- RecommendationThis game is perfect for the sadistic, psychologically disturbed, wannabe surgeons, or those who enjoy challenging themselves. It also caters for those who don't want to take a game too seriously.
- Name: Surgeon Simulator 2013
- Genre: Simulation
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Bossa Studios
- Publisher: Bossa Studios
- Price: $9.99 (R90)
- Reviewed On: PC
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a full successor to the original game of the same name, which was made in just 48 hours at the 2013 Global Game Jam in January. The original challenged players to perform a heart transplant as an ordinary guy with clumsy tools and a hand that was purposely made difficult to control. The game became an internet sensation quite quickly, and that called developers Bossa Studios into action to begin work on the full game. If you’re new to what this game is about, it’s essentially a humourous, over-the-top simulation game where you take on the role of Nigel Burke, who in the full game is a would-be surgeon taking on high priority surgeries. If you want to see some actual footage of the game, you’re welcome to check out my let’s play video series of it, but if you’d prefer to not have anything spoiled or if you simply want the final verdict, be sure to read on.
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The full game offers three surgeries, namely the classic Heart Transplant, a double Kidney Transplant and a Brain Transplant. Seriously. It does. It’s completely up to you whether you want to mutilate the patient as quickly as possible, try out all the tools for your sadistic pleasure or attempt to complete the surgeries as fast as you can and with minimal damage to achieve the best ratings. In this way, the game allows you to make your own fun, and caters for players who want to take it seriously and challenge themselves or those (like me) who are insane, because sanity is for the weak. To extend game time, Surgeon Simulator 2013 also offers the same three surgeries in Ambulance mode, which basically challenges you to perform the surgeries in a fast-moving ambulance. This mode is more difficult, as your tools can bounce around whenever the vehicle hits bumps and such, or you could lose them entirely if they fly out the back. Finally, there are 48 Steam Achievements to chase after, and these can be quite rewarding as they’ll show you things in the game you might not have known about.
It’s apparent that the game definitely has good variety. There’s the potential for replayability too if you’re a completionist, or if you simply want to start taking it seriously or go into full retard mode. Either way you’ll have a great time with this game. Personally, I usually care nothing for achievements or trophies in games, but after a few commentors on my let’s play series pointed out some of the tools I missed, I started paying attention to this game’s achievements, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have discovered something magical. But I’m going to be a dweeb and not say what that is in this paragraph. Sure I run the risk of being anti-climatic, but you only live once. And I’m not sure how that’s relevant.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 takes some learning to be able to play comfortably, and that was intended. It’s designed to be difficult, and that can make it fun just as easily as it can make it aggravating. You control a hand using the mouse and keyboard. The QWER keys control four of your fingers, and the space bar operates the other. Left click lowers your hand, and holding right click allows you to rotate it. That’s essentially the gist of it, but it’s a case of easier said in words than done in practice. Once you choose the surgery you’d like to perform, your patient will be laid out in front of you and you’ll be completely free to tackle the surgery in any way you choose using any tools you want. You’ll have access to tools such as a hammer, scalpels, a surgical cutter, a saw, a drill, blades, what appears to be a tomahawk and, for the magical object I mentioned earlier, a laser beam. The goal here was to blend fun with simulation, and not create something too serious or compromising to entertainment.
The various surgeries definitely require different approaches and methods. However, some are of course more effective than others. Your success is governed by the time you take, and your patient’s Blood Level, which takes hits whenever you do something damaging. While standard hits aren’t much of a problem, the threat is the Loss Rate count, which rises whenever you harm the patient. This causes the patient to bleed out, and the more damage you cause the faster this happens. You can stop the blood drain by using the green injection on your patient, but you have to be careful not to inject yourself with it, as your screen will distort and sound will drown out, making it difficult to finish the surgery. If your patient bleeds out or Blood Level drops to zero, he dies. You’ll need a steady hand and precision to ensure that you don’t cause too much collateral damage, and this takes practice.
The objectives of each surgery is simply to perform the transplant. You don’t need to worry about stitching patients back up, because ain’t nobody got time for that. You need to get in, take out the insides and bones (and try to restrain yourself from harvesting organs, which I found to be the biggest challenge) and remove the faulty organ. Your surgery is complete once you replace it with the new one and position it correctly. Elegance is simply a choice. Whether you want to use a laser beam to cut the rib cages, or a saw to slice up the insides, or a hammer to bash bones to pieces, it really is a matter of whatever works, is the most entertaining for you and of course gets the job done. There’s just something weirdly rewarding and satisfying in all approaches to this game, whether it’s butchery, organ harvesting, saving the patients life with elegance and precision or ignoring the objective entirely.
For all of its apparent merit, Surgeon Simulator 2013 does have some faults. They’re not big enough to put you off the game, but they can detract in the moment. For starters, some physics glitches can be a mixed-bag, because on the one hand the results can be hilarious, but on the other they can cause annoyance. For example, once my electric drill was acting with a life of its own and ended up knocking one of the kidneys I needed straight off the surgical table. But in another, the cutter was spazzing out in my hand and caused mass damage to the patient. Again, these things are unpredictable, and a lot of the time they’ll just be funny. But they can cause problems if you’re trying to get the best rating. The other criticism I have is that sometimes controlling your hand can be a little tough in delicate situations. I don’t mind the difficulty in most areas of the game, but when you’re trying to grip something that’s oddly positioned, like maybe a loose organ inside the body, it can sometimes be frustrating to get right. Lastly, I felt the Kidney Transplant was a little restricted, in that you can’t use many of the tools to cut through certain organs, as they require a very specific approach to get past, which limits freedom.
Visually, Surgeon Simulator 2013 is fantastic. It’s packed with detail, and has a really cool visual design, feeling almost cartoony but at the same time quite real. The animations are excellent, and give the game a surprisingly real or visceral feel when your slicing up bones or organs, or holding mushy insides. For the sadistic among us, namely myself, it’s quite satisfying. The great audio effects also come into play here, making the game look, sound and feel as good as it plays. I especially liked the sound track as well, as it helps the game retain its quirky nature. The ambulance levels as well deserve credit, as you really get the feel that you’re in a fast moving vehicle, and the way the light shines through onto the surgical table and casts shadows over the tools is an awesome sight.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a great blend between serious sim and over-the-top insanity. It’s unique, extremely well-made and awesome fun. It’s really the perfect choice for the more sadistic or more psychologically disturbed among us, the wannabe surgeons or simply for those who enjoy challenging themselves or those who don’t want to take a game too seriously. It has a wide appeal, and for good reason. Bossa Studios really did a wonder job here and, for me, it’s why I love indie.