You’ve probably heard, or at least seen video of, Surgeon Simulator. It began life as a game-jam, 48 hour concept type of project, but as of last week was released as a “full” game on Steam. I put that in quotes because it’s still only marginally longer than the original demo version, but the price tag is more than fair for the content that’s here.
Surgeon Simulator is not, as you’d be forgiven for thinking, a real simulator of any kind. Armed with a single hand and a variety of surgical tools, you’re tasked with performing vague renditions of surgeries like heart and kidney transplants. Really all you need to do is get the existing organs out of the way, and then dump the donor organ into the gaping, bloody, cavity you’ve created, and you’re considered to have done your job.
The controls are the catch, though. Each of the fingers and the thumb on your hand are controlled with a different key on the keyboard. The placement/rotation of the hand is controlled with your mouse. This makes not only grasping but using any surgical instrument an exercise in frustration and hilarity. It is both the game’s strongest selling point, as well as it’s biggest setback.
There are three operations (heart/kidney/brain transplant) and the brain transplant was the only one I found lacking challenge… which is odd because you’ve expect brain surgery to be the most difficult. An ambulance mode, wherein you’re trying to perform these operations in a moving vehicle hitting what must be every pothole on the road, adds an interesting twist once you’ve mastered the regular procedures.
I have rarely laughed as much as when I played through Surgeon Simulator (especially with friends). Failure and trial and error is a lot of fun, promoted by the game’s ridiculous concepts. I do feel, however, that eventually this novelty does wear off, and replay value diminishes along with the laughs.
That said, though, it’s well-worth experiencing yourself, and watching other people play remains entirely amusing.
The title carries the year, which makes me hopeful that they intend to work on and put out a new version next year. The entire concept is gold, and with some continued work and innovation it is well worth additional installments.
I, personally, would love to see the addition of a two-player mode, in which either one person moves the hand, and the other the fingers, or where one player controls the left hand, and the other controls the right.
I’d recommend that if you go to play the game for yourself, avoid doing any research at all. It’s far more fun to figure things out on your own.
I streamed and recorded my run through the game the other night, if you want to see what it’s like, or just laugh at my butchery of these poor patients.