Sawbuck Gamer

Surgeon Simulator 2013

Medical Malpractice

Surgeon Simulator 2013 reflects poorly on the state of modern medicine.

By Drew Toal • February 6, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Growing up, one of my favorite computer simulators was a game called Life & Death. In it, you assume the role of a hotshot surgeon, and you must perform tense, invasive procedures on the body in front of you. Owing to my fourth-grade-level knowledge of human anatomy and modern medicine, my patients usually bled out within minutes, and with a memorably horrifying scream. (I said it was a favorite game, not that I was any good at it.)

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is the first time I’ve scrubbed up since Life & Death, and apparently my scalpel hand hasn’t become any steadier in the ensuing decades.

The basic setup of this game is similar, but where I had only myself to blame for the nightmarish butchery of Life & Death, the controls in Surgeon Simulator 2013 are so hilariously unwieldy that the patient would be doomed even with Dr. Oz on the keyboard. In this way, it’s more of a joke than a game, but the joke is so good that it demands at least a couple playthroughs. Just trying to grasp a bone saw or the heart you’re transplanting is an exercise in near-total futility, and you’ll knock at least half your tools to the floor before you get anywhere near a damaged ventricle. It’s as if you’ve pumped your hand full of Novocain before trying to thread a sewing needle. If nothing else, it’ll make you think twice about ever going under the knife, and it’s rare times like these that I’m thankful for my complete lack of health insurance.

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  • Cheese

    It seems wrong that patients scream when they die in a surgery simulator. Maybe they’re dying because you didn’t purchase the Anesthesiologist  Simulator expansion.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema Reuben

       I’m glad this game isn’t published by EA:

      “Nurse, scalpel!” “That will be $2.99″

  • George_Liquor

    Can we have your liver, then?

    • DrunkPhilatelist

      i have the suspicion that Drew’s liver is more cautionary tale than viable organ at this point.

      • Drew Toal

        Excuse me for partyin’.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    I played “Life and Death II: The Brain” once. You start by seeing patients, and running simple tests on them.

    One of the tests involved poking a patient’s face with a pin to test for numbness. You can repeatedly poke him on the cheek, and the  patient goes “ouch”, “ouch” then eventually “oog!”. This amused me to no end. Without expecting anything special, I then poked the pin in the patient’s eye. The patient emitted a chilling scream, and the action suddenly cut to my supervisor’s office.

    “This is a hospital,” he scolded, “not a place to practice your impression of Freddy Kruger. Any more behaviour like that and I’ll be forced to dismiss you.”

    • ItsTheShadsy

      The ways you can brutalize people in L&D2 are really disturbing compared to the first one, but they’re so hard to resist. Come on, the game gave me a drill.

    • Pandas_please

       You only get one free pass for stabbing a patient in the eye? Man strict hospital.

    • Electric Dragon

      In Stafford NHS Hospital that kind of behaviour would probably have got you a bonus.

  • Limeade Youth

    This sounds like the prequel to “Dr. Octagon: The Game”

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      (in chippy SEGA announcer guy voice:)
      Round one!
      First patient!

      Pull out the skull, remove the cancer.

      • Bakken Hood

        Scalpel!
        Blood bucket!
        Priest!
        Next patient!

    • http://gameological.com/author/mattkodner/ Matt Kodner

      “Oh shit there’s a horse in the hospital” pretty accurately sums up what it’s like to try and play this

    • Enkidum

      Hmmmm… maybe there aren’t many other Kool Keith fans here, but I had a very different impression of what you meant.

  • lokimotive

    I’m curious what this surgeon is doing with his other hand.

    I don’t know if anyone else experienced this, but I found myself frantically pulling at the heart as the patient quickly bled out. It’s hard to be precise with that scalpel, so I clearly missed some necessary artery or something that attached the heart to the soon to be cadaver, so I found my hand gripped around an organ that refused to come loose. The ferocity with which I yanked and wriggled would seem to have ripped it out despite not being completely severed, but the human body is a strange thing.

    My favorite part of this is casually tossing away various instruments and body parts, because it’s just easier than actually placing them in a responsible manner.

    • Bakken Hood

      Yeah, it’s hard as hell to find all the vessels you need to cut.  What…somehow…just worked for me (yes, I actually just won a game) was pretty much just stirring at random with a scalpel.

      My favorite part of this is that, based on my experience and that of everyone else I’ve heard of actually winning, is that the most delicate instrument for opening the ribcage is the damn hammer.  Seriously, one well-placed swing and the whole ribcage shatters, with minimal bleeding.  SPOILERS FOLLOW IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT IT.

      1) Smash ribcage with hammer (requires figuring out that you have to move the mouse WHILE holding RMB to rotate hand).
      2) Discard everything that isn’t strapped down– bones, lungs, everything, since they don’t matter.
      3) Grab scalpel, point blade downwards, lower hand, stir vigorously until heart comes loose and starts rolling around in chest cavity.
      4) Discard old heart, which is somehow harder than it sounds.
      5) Insert new heart.  Jigger new heart around until you get notification that you’ve won.

      • lokimotive

        I mean, that’s pretty much exactly how I envision heart surgery to happen.

  • Cloks

    Hi everybody!

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema Reuben

       Hey, did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too?

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    Just to make sure – there’s no ACTUAL way to ‘win’ at this, right? On their Steam Greenlight page, they talk about different types of surgery, different goals and different scenarios (like in the back of a speeding ambulance), but I wonder how they’ll incorporate multiple levels if none of them actually have a win state.

    • Bakken Hood

      I just did, with almost 890 mL of blood left.  That’s all you need, right?

      • lokimotive

        You won, but at what cost?

    • http://gameological.com/author/mattkodner/ Matt Kodner

      The insane Swedish guy who exclusively punched his way to the end of Skyrim somehow managed it. His video is amazing, and very strange.

  • Eco1970

    This was a funny ‘review’, but again it’s seemingly been dashed off in like 5 minutes. Why are the controls so unwieldy? Sparse review. Did you write this on the bus to your real job?

    • George_Liquor

      It’s a frickin’ free browser game! Click on the link & find out for yourself.

    • Pandas_please

       I think these are meant to be quick impressions by the reviewer, after all all of the games are ten dollars or cheaper, many of them are even free. Enough information for the reader to decide weather or not they might want to take a look at the title for themselves.

  • Citric

    Now I know what that game was from when I was a kid! Life and Death! Everyone gets surgery all the time! And then they die.

  • EmperorNortonI

    It is a horrible shame, and an indictment of American politics and society, that the wonderful and talented contributors to this site don’t have health care.

  • MesotheleonaHelmsley

    I dropped the rotary saw in the cavity. That happens right?