Earlier this year, a group of bright individuals developed a game in under 48 hours at the 2013 Global Game Jam. The result was a haphazard surgeon simulator with controls similar to that of QWOP. It was awesome. Several sloppy heart surgeries later, the same team decided to develop the same game but within 48 days and with more content.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 was recently given the green light and has been officially launched. It puts you in control of the hand of Nigel Burke, “an ordinary guy, with no outstanding skills,” as you attempt to perform complicated surgeries on hapless patients. Nigel’s fingers can be controlled with A,W,E,R and space for his thumb while the mouse controls arm movement and wrist rotation.
Aside from hand control, the game gives you little to absolutely no tutorial whatsoever. The only thing close to an instruction you’ll get is giving the name of the procedure. You’re given a patient who needs a transplant and you can use everything at your disposal to complete the operation and that includes water bottles, notepads, beakers and even a handy laser-cutter that often goes out of control when you let go.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is more of a puzzle game than a simulator. Transplants are done by basically removing any organs that are in the way of whatever it is you are transplanting. Heart surgery, for example, is a very simple and delicate procedure. All you need to do is smash the ribcage with your trusty hammer, remove that blackish purple giblet, cut the cord of that pink blob and heart vein thingies, remove the heart then replace it with a brand new one and voila! The patient [probably] lives!
It’s always easier (and sometimes preferable) to just grab a tool and literally screw around until one of the organs come loose but you have to be professional. The more you screw around, the more the patient looses blood. The aim of the game is to “successfully” perform a transplant before the patient bleeds out so mindlessly poking tools at the organs is somewhat discouraged. “Pro” surgeons would clear out their work space first to make room for preferred tools including that nice little syringe with nice little drugs in it that stops the patient from bleeding out and when accidentally self-injected makes surgery a colorful and mind-opening experience. But where’s the fun in being a pro surgeon? I’d rather use beakers to smash ribcages…FOR SCIENCE!
The whole game is basically a learning process – a really grim and silly learning process. Surgeon Simulator 2013 taught me that kidney transplant surgery is actually a very simple procedure that can actually be done with a combination of scalpels, hammers and spoons. The beauty of the game comes with the fact that you can interact with almost everything. The main menu is a desk complete with a computer and working floppy disks as well as an elusive phone that’s actually harder to pick up than to perform heart transplants. Even the graphics options are almost as hard as performing brain surgery.
It was a good move for Bossa Studios to not try and make a full-on realistic game out of Surgeon Simulator 2013. The game doesn’t drag on its silliness and only features 3 different surgeries that can later be replayed in an ambulance driven by the Nigel Burke of ambulance drivers where all the tools gracefully dance around in mid-air as you attempt to detach major organs.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 delivers exactly what you would expect from a team of sleep-deprived developers can create in 48 days and more. It’s fun and extremely hilarious to play. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed this hard at a game. I’m just a bit surprised they’re charging £6.99 for something they’ve made clear was made in a really short amount of time.