Rumor has it you're thinking about being a surgeon. Well listen up, chump, it ain't easy. Medical school will cost you a pretty penny- if you can even get in- and once you've graduated you've got several years of training before you're a real doctor and can start cutting open patients right and left. Why not skip all that hassle and jump right into surgery with Surgeon Simulator? Sure, you're gonna lose a few patients. Hell, you'll lose more than a few— you're going to lose a crapload. But it is a debt-free, (relatively) stress-free way of getting in on a little surgical action.
The idea of Surgeon Simulator is to present a cartoonish version of actual surgery. You have a wide array of true medical tools at your disposal, with things like scalpels, defibrillators and bone saws, and with these implements you'll be transplanting, removing and generally slicing and dicing into a patient named Bob. Seems that Bob's got a lot of health issues, so you'll be performing repeated surgeries on him to get him back into shape. Before surgery you have access to your doctor's desk, which acts as the hub from which to select levels, access the options and check how each surgery is properly executed. Once you're actually in the operating room, however, you better hope you remember what the hell you're doing, or Bob's gonna die.
Therein lies Surgeon Simulator's charm— you will lose. A lot. Bob will die, and you're probably going to laugh at the frequent, creative ways Bob shuffles off the mortal coil. Maybe you accidentally remove his liver when you shouldn't and he bleeds to death, or maybe you try to calm him down with a bit of anesthetic gas and forget to stop calming him down and his heart stops. Or maybe you just beat Bob to death with a clock. Bob croaks often, but successfully executing a surgery doesn't take that long, so having to restart one isn't much of a setback.
The heart of the game is its touch controls— the quirky, clunky interface with which you will be slaughtering many a patient. Get ready for a multi-fingered workout with Surgeon Simulator, as it requires a high level of digital dexterity, not unlike real surgery! You'll use two fingers to swipe the camera around, selecting and moving around your surgical tools/random objects with one finger while using the other to pick targeting points and adjust the angle of your tool. Herein lies the fun (and challenge) of Surgeon Simulator. Like its PC big sister, Surgeon Simulator's controls are hilariously clumsy. Often you'll slice the wrong tube or smash the wrong rib when trying to save Bob's life, and you'll have to act fast to fix what you've done. Eventually though, the novelty of accidentally murdering your patients may wear off, and gamers who are looking to actually make progress could become frustrated, as each surgery gets unlocked in a straightforward order. If there's a particularly tough surgery you can't get past, tough noogies. On the flip side, however, Surgeon Simulator's pretty generous with what qualifies as a successful surgery. Our first successful heart transplant with Bob had him walking out of the O.R. with a demolished rib cage, missing liver and only one lung.
Surgeon Simulator's soundtrack utilizes '80s-esque synth tunes to create a fun, and weirdly outdated, feel to the whole experience, which fits well given your general ineptitude at surgery. Some of the songs make clever use of the heart-rate monitor, growing into a more feverish pace as the patient's pulse races when their life's in danger. The visuals are appropriately simple, but clear, so you know what you're looking at without being grossed out by hyper-realism.
Not everyone is going to enjoy Surgeon Simulator's comedically clunky gameplay. For those with a bit of patience, you'll get a game that will make you laugh, groan and repeatedly murder your patients in a variety of malpractice-y ways.
This review is based on a purchased copy of Surgeon Simulator for iOS.