It can’t be very hygienic, flinging a patient’s intestines around the room. Still, we wouldn’t want them getting in the way of our plastic spoon, now, would we? Inaccuracy defines Surgeon Simulator 2013, and we’re not just talking about its flimsy grasp of medical science.
This is gaming not as empowerment fantasy or nuanced test of skill, but as slapstick black comedy, the gravity of your life-saving task matched only by your flailing inability to perform it with a modicum of delicacy. Bossa Studios has turned poor, awkward controls into an artform here, hence the contrived awkwardness of needing to use five keyboard keys and a mouse to operate one drunkenly flailing limb and the dully responsive hand at the end of it. You will grasp in vain at scalpels, drill messily into skulls and tug roughly at the squishy stuff beneath smashed-up rip cages. The joke works because of the macabre hilarity that ensues when everything goes wrong – when you, whoops, drop a still-buzzing power drill into a stomach cavity, for instance – and because as deliberately awkward as the controls are, they do work consistently.
The premise hinges on your task being a precise one, and this is where Surgeon Simulator 2013 can inevitably frustrate. The game isn’t clear how its surgeries work – which bits need be cut where, and with what tools – not a problem when you’re merrily and messily experimenting, but annoying if you’re keen to progress. Still, few games take that odd, occasional gulf between what you intend to happen and what actually occurs on screen and fill it with such comedy.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is available now on Steam.