Indie Focus: Surgeon Simulator 2013

Ever fancied yourself as a brain surgeon? Well you’re in luck! With Surgeon Simulator 2013 you will enter the world of rookie surgeon Nigel Burke, a man with no prior medical knowledge thrown head first into a surgery with what appears to be only one hand and a watch that just won’t stay fastened. With this slight disadvantage it’s all over to you to save your patient, Bob, from his heart, kidney and brain troubles.

As poor Bob faces death, will you become the best surgeon you can be or crumble under the pressure? Deceivingly, the word simulator isn’t to be taken seriously at all here, and crumbling is definitely the most likely outcome. Instead you’ll find the game to be devilishly good fun, even if that joy seems a little morbid. With Surgeon Simulator the welfare of your patient is surprisingly not your main concern. As Bob bleeds away, the only real concern becomes replacing that all important vital organ.

Lungs, livers, intestines, you name it – all unimportant in the world of Surgeon Simulator. As you drill, hammer or dice your way through Bob’s rib-cage you’ll be casting his organs aside, or even out the back of an ambulance. In the eyes of Nigel Burke he looks “just fine” without them. We’ll have to trust his judgement on that one.

[drop]The whole game is really just a joke, and a funny one at first, but one that will eventually get a little stale. The worse you are at the game, the more you will get out of it; a sentiment that is usually the other way around in gaming. Nevertheless, completing the game properly almost feels wrong – it’s clearly not the intent of the developers.

At first glance Surgeon Simulator looks easy enough. With each surgery you’re presented with a wide collection of medical equipment fit for every purpose and Bob’s open chest, stomach or fragile cranium laying in front of you. Even the controls feel natural at first, with the A-W-E-R and space keys acting as your fingers and the mouse as your hand. What could possibly go wrong?

As you reach out for your first scalpel blade your hand suddenly becomes a magnet for disaster. To say Burke is a bit unsteady with his hand is a massive understatement. The controls are intentionally awkward and clunky, and navigating around the work table is a mess. You’ll knock over glasses, stab yourself with needles and even accidentally drop the drill in poor Bob’s face. Everything that could possibly go wrong will, and in spectacular fashion.

I’ve never had so much trouble with a game’s controls before. Simply picking up a saw from the medical table is a challenging test itself, not to mention delicately trying to snip away Bob’s oesophagus without damaging his aorta. This would all be massively infuriating if it wasn’t so ridiculous and over-the-top.

If Bob’s condition does take a turn for the worse, which it will, and he finds himself losing blood fast all you need to do is give him a quick dose of the green needle which reduces the blood loss. It’s extremely handy in situations where you find that drilling his brains out wasn’t the best of ideas. You’ll need to be careful handling this needle though, as if you stab yourself with it you’ll have to finish the surgery in a drug induced state, which will leave your vision looking as though you’re as high as a kite. Mix that with butter fingers and you’re already rehearsing the bad news for Bob’s next-of-kin.

If, against all the odds, you do manage to replace Bob’s faulty heart, kidneys or brain the game scores your surgeon skills from A++ to D. You’ll be graded on how long it took you to complete the surgery and how much blood Bob has lost. Suffice to say, it’s a tough challenge to score anything higher than a D, never mind an A++.

[drop2]Once you’ve completed the three main surgeries, Ambulance Mode is unlocked. Ambulance Mode confronts you with the same surgeries as before but this time you’ll have to complete them in the back of a speeding ambulance. This is no normal ambulance though. This ambulance manages to defy all the laws of physics, as well as constantly driving over roads that suffer from serious pot hole issues. Every few seconds everything, and I mean everything, in the back of the ambulance soars high into the air, only to land again in a messy heap.

You better watch out for those scalpel blades you were just using as they can accidentally all fall into Bob’s open chest cavity and leave him with a very sore throat in the morning. And that laser you failed to clip back into position? Well that’s going to swing around like a high powered water-hose, leaving Bob feeling very much like 007 in Goldfinger. I can only describe Ambulance Mode as utter madness – it’s bonkers.

There’s quite a large issue regarding the frame rate when it comes to Ambulance Mode though. Every so often the game will slow down to a snails pace, no doubt due to the large amount of physics objects bouncing around. It’s all very ugly. When the game does return back to it’s smooth state don’t be surprised if Bob is suddenly losing buckets of blood for unknown reasons (probably the scalpel in his lung, actually), or if the game even crashes and restarts. This seriously hampers your chances of completing the surgery.

Whilst Surgeon Simulator 2013 remains an enjoyable game, it’s for what would normally be the wrong reasons. The controls are a unique challenge and the game’s physics are perfect to complement its daft nature. Although it’s clear this game is intended not to be taken seriously the overall appeal is may not last too long, but at £6.99 it’s easy to justify the asking price, particularly if you’ve got a few mates who’ll laugh alongside you while they await their turn. Even alone you’ll have fun finding 101 ways to kill poor Bob before the joke wears too thin to keep you coming back, although you shouldn’t go in expecting anything deeper.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is available from Steam for £6.99. You can also play the original (which was made in 48 hours for the 2013 Global Game Jam) free here. Below you can watch Gamoc struggle to perform a heart transplant and work a computer. One of those should be easier than the other.



  1. Sweet jesus, this has got to the most entertaining/hiarious thing I’ve read in bloody ages

    was laughing so hard I nearly fell off the bog!

    • haha! thanks, the game’s even funnier ;)

  2. It’s been stunning fun.

    AG2297, Hannypoppie, Teflon and I were laughing ourselves silly watching a YouTube gameplay video. I bought it there and then and “gifted” Tef too. We were elbow deep in lungs and heart before you knew it.

    It’s been very silly and you can tell, like Origami Killer has, that the game has no real longevity but it’s such a silly laugh. British made and when you’re in the ambulance trying to operate… some awesome British driving! How everything is thrown around the back of the ambulance and the light, from outside, dances across the victim… I mean, Bob, is wonderful. Very off-putting. OH MY GOD, that green cloth is the bane of my life!

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