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Review | Surgeon Simulator (PS4)

Review | Surgeon Simulator (PS4)

by September 21, 2014 0 comments

We learn from malpractice, not practice.

Being a surgeon is a daunting task. About 20 years of school, having to be on call 24 hours a day and the hours of concentration required to perform some of the most delicate and careful procedures on the planet, where one mistake could cost the life of a patient, is a daunting task for any able bodied adult. It becomes quite a surprise when Surgeon Simulator casts the player as a one-armed man, seemingly stricken by cerebral palsy, who is so pudgy that his watch at times pops off his wrist. Surgeon Simulator is a hard game, but it is also a silly novelty game. It isn’t about the player’s mastery of the controls and systems of the core mechanics but, mostly about absurd physics and intentionally counter-intuitive controls.

 

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Within the first few minutes of gameplay, it becomes abundantly clear that Surgeon Simulator is by no means a serious or realistic simulation game. In contrast the very popular Trauma Center games, published by Atlus, are some of the premiere “Operation-esque” games on the market, and they too have a very high difficulty threshold, much like Surgeon Simulator. Unlike Surgeon Simulator though, they are games that punish players for making poor choices rather than cripple them with counter-intuitive controls and goofy physics. In Surgeon Simulator, the player controls only one hand and the instruments are laid out around the patient. The game would have almost no challenge if players could just intuitively pick up the required instrument and perform the surgery while not making a mess or accidentally getting pricked by a needle and drugging themselves. No, the point of Surgeon Simulator is that it has bad controls. That is the whole selling point of the game and what separates it from Trauma Center.

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Surgeon Simulator proudly advertises that it is built with the Unity engine. It is an ok looking game; blandly textured and often looking a tad stock. The drab aesthetics are definitely intentional, meant to evoke a sterile hospital feeling. The retro 80’s style beats do the experience justice and are actually pretty great musical cues.

There are some visually interesting flourishes in Surgeon Simulator, one of which is on the hardest level of the game which involves a procedure in zero gravity, with all the instruments wafting about in the air. If simply picking up instruments was hard enough in Surgeon Simulator, doing it in a zero-g environment was the ultimate test of accuracy and mastery of hand-eye coordination.

While Surgeon Simulator maybe one of the most difficult games on the PS4, it is arbitrarily difficult. Even when the player has a complete understanding of the controls and mechanics of the game, there are still quite a few issues Surgeon Simulator has that players will ultimately be at the mercy of: Clipping that can confuse players or obstruct the field of view or inconsistent physics that can be very erratic and make it so a procedure is impossible to complete because a vital instrument’s physics glitched out and fell through geometry.

There are many randomized factors that play into Surgeon Simulator that are supposed to be part of the game’s goofy and absurd charm, but this begs the question: is a game is good because it succeeds at being intentionally bad? A game that is trying to be ironic says that the developers are using faults and stupid game design choices as a shield from criticism, by using the old adage “It’s supposed to be bad.”

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Check out the Score

GAMEPLAY

With some modicum of anatomy knowledge players won’t have too much trouble knowing what to do, but ultimately the controls and physics will be the major cause of friction, not player skill. The game runs smoothly but is prone to all kinds of graphical glitches like clipping or spastic model syndrome. It is difficult to determine most of the time if the character’s hand has a grip at all. 

GRAPHICS

Appropriate aesthetics that match the bland and sterile hospital setting. Soft pastel coloring gets starkly contrasted against blood splatters.

SOUND

By far the most positive experience with Surgeon Simulator was its cool beats and nostalgic soundtrack. Sound design is fairly cartoony with very overt squishy, squashy and splattering sound effects.

Value

For what can be considered a game to prank people with, $10 dollars is a reasonable cost for an experience that will demand a lot of trials and battling with controls. Perhaps one day the player may even become a Surgeon Simulator master and show off how proficient they are with the world’s worst controls, but then again there are far better games to sink your time in. Surgeon Simulator is by far a definitive novelty game for players who have twitch streams, but by no means will it be a game people will remember over time. Surgeon Simulator can only be recommended if the user wants a few laughs and intends on making other people play it to watch them fail.

Final Score

FINAL SCORE

Like other novelty joke games, Surgeon Simulator is destined to fall into utter obscurity and be forgotten. It is a game that doesn’t try to offer any legitimate challenge, but rather is a gimmicky tech demo for Unity’s physics engine and effects. While the game is amusing at times, it gets old incredibly fast. Too many technical anomalies and unintentional randomized factors can make some attempts unplayable. However, it is legitimately satisfying when the player is able to complete a procedure or accomplish a maneuver- this is of course because the player is grateful the game did not throw-up all over itself.     4    

 

 

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