Ever woken up in the middle of the night with a dead arm? Can you imagine using that numb, floppy limb to perform a series of highly-technical operations? Well, that’s exactly how it feels to play Surgeon Simulator A&E Anniversary Edition, Bossa Studios’ PS4 version of its crazy surgical simulation game.
Surgeon Simulator’s gameplay revolves around haphazardly performing operations on anaesthetized patients with a range of surgical tools at your disposal; controlling an arm, hand and fingers to crack open rib cages, remove body parts and replace vital organs, all while trying not to kill the patient in the process. Get it perfectly right, avoiding blood loss, and you’ll receive an ‘A’ grade for your efforts, but get it wrong and the patient will die - sombre stuff.
The action takes place from a top-down, first-person viewpoint, with you, the surgeon, controlling arm and hand movements across the operating table with the analogue sticks. Both arm and hand can be rotated, while a press of the shoulder buttons allows you to pinch and grab implements and organs. Though the control scheme sounds easy enough to grasp, manoeuvring the arm and hands effectively is immensely frustrating. Due to the accuracy, patience and control needed to carry out the simplest of tasks, even just picking up an item can be extremely difficult and time consuming.
To compound that frustration, the lack of a tutorial - other than the basic presentation of the control scheme - is ridiculous as you’re flung into your first operation without really having a clue what you need to do. Our first task, a heart transplant, ended in disaster with the patient dying, not once, but a dozen times over the course of an hour-and-a-half with us wrestling with the fidgety control scheme, while wondering what it is we had to do to complete a successful operation.