Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
The House, M.D. TV series ended its run in May, and Ubisoft is hoping that fans are already hankering for more of Gregory House’s wisecracks and hypochondria-inspiring medical mysteries. House, M.D.: Critical Cases sticks closely to the show’s formula, but it makes you pay for doses of Dr. House’s sarcasm and misanthropy by playing lots of repetitive mini games.
The game is divided into episodes that, just like on TV, begin with the patient developing the awful symptoms that send them to the ER, complete with gross animations of projectile vomit and hapless people coughing up blood. You play as a rookie added to House’s diagnostics team, hanging out with bobblehead versions of House, Foreman, Chase, and Thirteen. You eliminate possible maladies, inevitably misdiagnose the patient (causing the obligatory Code Blue), go back to the drawing board, and then discover what’s really wrong.
The diagnosis process has you running tests and investigating the scene where a patient got sick—where “investigating” means playing hidden object and memory games. There’s a game where you have to click on the right blood cells, because of science. You’ll also need plenty of medical supplies, favors, and money, and to get those, you have to treat the many other patients that filter into the Princeton Plainsboro clinic. That means repeatedly playing the same games and getting Facebook friends to lend you a hand. As cases get more complicated, the tedious labor piles up. The writing is fun, but popping in a DVD may be more gratifying.