Review: Surgeon Simulator

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Simulation
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: August 27th, 2016
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

The results of each operation are recorded once the operation has successfully been completed. To pause the game, press ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Although the controls are clearly the main issue with this game, there is a small or moderate amount of blood shown during the surgeries, and naturally enough, if your patient loses too much blood, they'll die.


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Whoa. Groovy.

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This'll work

Game Overview

Sometimes, it's not quite enough to make a game on a theme. Sometimes you need to mess with the players while you're at it. Surgeon Simulator is one of those times.

This Indie game rose to fame very quickly thanks to its very bizarre control scheme, the sheer difficulty it presents and the absurdity of the game itself. It's worth a look if you want a different kind of challenge, but don't expect this to be serious or an actual "simulator" at all. Instead of doing things in a conventional or sane manner, the player controls one of the surgeon's arms using the mouse and keyboard. Or to be more specific, you use the keyboard to move each finger individually, and the mouse moves the arm and wrist. It's a complete mess, as you'll need to press and hold four or five keys to pick up anything.

This results in a lot of scattered tools, misplaced organs, and botched operations. Making things extra hard are the locations where you'll be attempting to do surgery: the hospital's prepped facility is fairly easy, but you could also be working in a speeding ambulance, a random hospital hallway or even in zero gravity.

Note that your patient has a limited amount of blood and will die if he bleeds out. Good luck, you're going to need it.

Points of Interest

So many objects...
Nearly everything you see can be manipulated or interacted with. This includes the everything in the main menu, which is styled after a receptionist's desk. Aside from providing atmosphere, this is part of what makes the game challenging. While you have a lot of scalpels or other medical tools handy, your workspace is also cluttered with things like a hammer, a cordless power drill and even a 20oz bottle of soda. You'll either need to avoid them or get really creative during the surgery.
Popular Steam features
There is a set of Steam trading cards and a bunch of achievements to earn in this game. Some of the achievements reflect just how ridiculous this game is. For example, you get the "keyhole surgery" achievement by removing Bob's entire ribcage.
Great soundtrack
For a few simple variants of a song made using sounds of a hospital setting, the soundtrack is catchy and a good listen. Each of the songs have a punny name too, such as Are you Kidney-ing me and Unidentified Flying Organ.
Additional content available
There is a small package of DLC available that adds a few new surgeries and new environments to the game. The soundtrack is also included in the DLC.
Secrets to find
There are several hidden levels. Getting to them requires some unusual tricks at the reception desk, but there are clues strewn about for the clever to find. The space themed levels are one group of hidden levels, but there's also a level where you can perform surgery on an alien, and another hidden level where you play as the Medic from Team Fortress II and operate on the Heavy.
The controls are a nightmare
Unfortunately, the incredibly difficult and awkward control scheme the game uses is deliberate. Even if you remap the keys to better fit your hand, things are still going to be very hard to manage. You're much more likely to grab a fistful of things rather than the tool you want, and it's also likely that you'll wind up holding whatever you get in an awkward or unusable fashion. Setting things down is often just as problematic, and for some players, this is just too much to deal with.

Concerns and Issues

Blood, obviously
There's nowhere near the amount of blood you'd see in a real operation, but there still is some. Basically, the more you make mistakes, the bloodier things get. Of course, you'll get a better score if you don't make a mess, but if you do accidentally kill the patient, the game over screen will cheerfully inform you that you were able to achieve "brutal murder" in X minutes and Y seconds.
Drug trips
One of the needles you're provided with is used to stop or slow any bleeding. The other needle is an antidote for the first needle. You're going to need it because you can accidentally stick yourself with either needle really easily, resulting in a very psychedelic experience.
Bob is not anatomically correct
Many organs are missing, though the ones that are left tend to really get in the way. Bob's guts resemble those statuettes you can get at some museums or see in science classes more than the innards of an actual human, so as far as simulations go, this one isn't realistic at all.
Sooner or later, the player will make a crude gesture
Players will likely have the doctor flip the bird at some point. There's also an achievement for doing this, so the developer obviously expects it to happen sooner or later.