By: Casey Curran
One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons is about Homer needing heart surgery, but he can only afford Dr. Nick Riviera. Dr. Nick knows less about heart surgery than Lisa, uses gloves he got with his toilet brush and realizes mid-surgery he still has his wristwatch on. I bring this up because Surgeon Simulator did a perfect job of putting me in his state of mind. I was clueless, I was clumsy, and my character wore a wristwatch on his right hand.
Surgeon Simulator has a horribly unintuitive control scheme. The left stick very imprecisely controls where your arm moves while either the right stick or motion sensor controls your hand’s positioning. These alone were enough to frustrate at every turn as I was constantly knocking over things I needed to pick up, never once getting used to them.
L2, meanwhile, controls elevation. Rather than have your pressure on the trigger control the elevation, however, it’s the amount of time you hold the trigger that does so. This makes any elevation besides the highest and lowest incredibly difficult to reach, which the game strangely asks you to do at times. R1 controls half your fingers while R2 controls the other half, though only holding both lets you control them all at once. I do not know anyone who uses their fingers this way, which again underscores how bizarre these controls are.
I would like to say that Surgeon Simulator makes me feel drunk, but I cannot. When I am drunk, I have some control over where I move an arm. I may knock over a glass, but not everything it hovers near like this game. When I am drunk, I can wrap my fingers around objects to grab them fairly easily. Here, I cannot. This game feels more like what I imagine it is like to be on Quaaludes as seen in The Wolf of Wall Street.
The only point in Surgeon Simulator’s favor is that I can tell what everything is. I can tell one tool apart from another and one organ from another. The graphics themselves look very cheap, more like a shovelware Wii title than a PS4 game. Even for a budget game, this looks bad. Even worse is that the game goes for a mostly cartoony look, which contrasts horribly with the blood and organs in the game.
Upon starting the game, I was greeted with the following: “Perform a heart transplant.” No instructions, no hints on what tools to use. It just told me to perform heart surgery. I had no clue how to get through the bones and take out the current heart without killing my patient.
I feel like I should not even say anything else. A game advertised to the general public is unplayable unless you have gone to medical school. No instructions, not even a hint. There’s not holding the player’s hand and then there’s just being lazy. The game assumes you went to medical school, and you need this education to get through it. Even if you have gone through, good luck with the game’s broken controls.
Busted controls and levels that are unplayable to everyone except doctors add up to an awful experience. I try to see the good in everything I play. After all, these are video games. They are meant to be fun and provide enjoyment. But there is no enjoyment to be found here. Surgeon Simulator is the worst game I have ever reviewed.