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.
For the sake of review completion, we turned to a YouTube walkthrough. It turns out we needed to cut through a rib cage with one of the tools on hand, perhaps using a hammer to smash through it or buzz saw to cut it, before removing the lungs and diaphragm. Grabbing a scalpel we then cut through the areas around the stomach to remove it, before severing the aorta and arteries. After removing the heart and replacing it with a new heart, which was hidden away in a box next to the operating table, the task was complete… after an exhausting 25 minutes.
However, this is also when a small Eureka moment hit us. Now we knew exactly what to do, the operation was actually now far more enjoyable to play, despite the issues with the fidgety control scheme continuing to frustrate. Onto the second operation and things began to slot into place. The more you play Surgeon Simulator, the easier the control scheme becomes and the more you start to understand what needs to be done to perform each operation. With blood spurting everywhere, the tough challenge of completing an operation successfully, coupled with the satisfaction of tossing a lung as it were a dirty nappy across the operating theatre means that Surgeon Simulator did begin to grow on us for a short while.
With 20 operations on offer there’s plenty of challenge for your money’s worth, though we can’t imagine many people having the patience to play through them all once the initial novelty factor and humour of being such a clumsy surgeon has worn off. However, there is some fun to be had out of co-op play. With two players teaming up and two hands on screen at one time, there’s plenty of laughs to be had from butchering bodies and satisfaction to be gained from working together to achieve perfect ‘A’ grades.
Suffice to say then that Surgeon Simulator A&E Anniversary Edition isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea due its frustrating control mechanics and the amount of patience needed to carry out some long, drawn-out operations. However, for those casual gamers and perfectionists amongst you who are seeking a few laughs, then Bossa’s surgeon sim may just be the perfect tonic.