Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Surgeon Simulator AE Review (PS4)

Time hasn’t been kind to Surgeon Simulator. While unique and interesting in a “so bad it’s good” way when it first hit the scene in 2013, in 2017 it is just plain bad and has been far surpassed by newer entries in the sub-genre it helped create. Games like Goat Simulator, Manual Smauel, Octodad, and Human Fall Flat have taken the concept of making games with awkward controls, glitches, and otherwise making them “bad” on purpose and created genuinely funny and fun experiences that are more than just “so bad it’s good”. They’re actually good and they make Surgeon Simulator look like an embarrassing mess of nonsensical garbage that plays bad and should feel bad. Continue reading our Surgeon Simulator Anniversary Edition PS4 review for more.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Bossa Studios
  • Developer: Bossa Studios
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Pros: Kinda funny, sort of; co-op
  • Cons: Terrible awful putrid controls; novelty wears off very quickly
  • MSRP: $13
In Surgeon Simulator you play as the arm of a surgeon in charge of half-assed surgeries. You move your arm around with one stick and can raise it up and down and rotate it with the other. Different buttons allow you to close the different fingers and grasp things. The concept and controls are deceptively simple, but actually doing anything with any semblance of precision is almost impossible. The controls are just so awkward and terrible and unwieldy and frustrating and bad you’ll want to throw the controller across the room. Thankfully, you don’t actually have to be very good at doing actual surgery – a heart transplant only requires you to break apart and remove the ribcage, rip out the heart, and drop a new one into the hole – which is a good thing because the controls are goddamn terrible.

I get it that the whole point is that it plays bad on purpose and it’s supposed to be funny to see blood splatter all over as you perform surgery in all the wrong ways, but it sucks and isn’t fun to play. The controls are far too awkward and difficult and terrible and frustrating to be fun and the momentary thrill of “Hurr hurr, I broke the ribs! Wow, look at all the blood splatter!” wears off almost immediately. Perhaps the game controlled better with a mouse and keyboard than it does with a controller, but on the PS4 controller Surgeon Simulator is just insipid garbage.

The one good thing about Surgeon Simulator is in reveling in just how ridiculous it can be. Digging out eyeballs with a plastic spoon and wildly breaking ribs with a hammer is so over the top you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity. Playing co-op where each person controls a separate arm can also be absolutely hilarious. For all of about 10-minutes. Then the bad controls start to frustrate you and it stops being funny anymore. I’m not saying you can’t put in the effort to learn how to use the awkward controls and actually get really proficient at the game. You totally can. I’m saying the brief and momentary joys the experience might bring simply aren’t worth the effort.

You’re probably saying to yourself “Eric only hates the game because he’s bad at it, herp derp,’ and you’re totally correct. I am bad at it. I can’t figure it out. I’ve struggled with it for hours across several sessions. It sucks. I hate it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I've played thousands of games in my career, good bad and in-between, and for me to hate Surgeon Simulator this much should speak volumes.

Like I mentioned above, I’m not opposed to the idea of intentionally bad games with awkward controls. Human Fall Flat and Manual Samuel are recent such games that are actually fantastic and there are lots of others that are solid as well. Surgeon Simulator just plain isn’t good. Maybe if I had played it earlier and didn’t have newer and better things to compare it to I’d think of it more fondly, but playing Surgeon Simulator for the first time in 2017 is just an awful experience. I bought it at an extreme discount bundled with I Am Bread (another Bossa Studios POS) for $3 during a PSN sale and I still feel like I kind of got ripped off. Skip it and play something better.