Surgeon Simulator 2013: death in your hands

By Dave Cook
1 May 2013 08:12 GMT

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a strange, almost morbid game that proves VG247’s Dave Cook should never be trusted with a person’s life under any circumstances. Get disturbed here.

When I started playing this game I thought I’d begin as a fresh-faced medical graduate with little money and a raging hard-on for saving lives. I’d be Zach Braff from Scrubs, clumsily working my way through easy procedures to begin with before tackling the life-threatening stuff, getting less funny as I went.

Then I discovered my first task was to perform a heart transplant. ‘This can’t be right’, I thought, as I slowly steered the doctor’s virtual hand around his office desk in search of a tutorial option, sending pills and floppy discs cascading everywhere.

And then, naturally, I flipped myself the bird.

The ensuing mess looked like my surgeon had just suffered a traumatic episode, as if the pressure had become too much for him to bear. There was no tutorial lesson in sight, just a constantly ringing phone that told me it was shit or get off the pot time. So with nothing left to do, I decided to get on with it and meet my first patient.

OK Dave, be cool. You’ve got this…

Who was this man? Why was his life entrusted to an unqualified imposter who had clearly walked into the hospital off the street? I slid the surgeon’s hand around trying to interact with his tools, but ended up trashing the joint again.

What you’re supposed to do is press A, W, E, R and Space to control each of your surgeon’s fingers. By making a fist you can cling on to your dangerous bone saws and rib hammer like an infant who has just discovered it has opposable thumbs. I did the same to the patient’s cover and then shit got real.

God save us all…

There’s absolutely no explanation of what it is you’re supposed to do next. Like, none at all. So off I went, groping and grabbing awkwardly at tools in an attempt to pick them up. Eventually I managed to grasp an electric circular saw in something of a ‘crab-claw’ manoeuvre, and I tried to cut open the chap’s rib-cage with it.

But as I tried to turn the blade around the right way, I dropped it off-screen where I couldn’t reach it. Annoyed, I decided to just grab a hammer and smash the shit out of the guy’s bones instead. Had I not seen Jim Sterling’s insane but brilliant guide to this operation before, I wouldn’t have known this was possible.

But then this happened:


At this point if I were the surgeon I’d turn and run, adopt a fake name and live out the rest of my days beyond police jurisdiction. But this is a game, and games are made to be beaten. I thought if I just tried to understand its mechanics I’d be able to save this poor bastard’s life.

The guy’s rib-cage has been broken down into tiny shards that had falleninside his damn body. So I started picking them out meticulously. Well, as meticulously as one of those old claw arcade games you get down at your local bowling alley or Laser Quest, except now the penalty for failure is an inquiry and a life in prison.

I was one step closer to getting that damn heart out, but the guy’s pesky lungs were in the way. I just ripped them out and thew them to the side. Why break old habits now?

The thumbs up means everything is going to be OK, right?

At this point the man started losing a shit-load of blood, and no matter how much I grabbed and poked I couldn’t get through to his heart. He was clearly dying in front of me so I tried to pick up a needle, thinking that I could stem the blood flow or ease his pain.

But in my haste and because the game’s controls are god-awful, I stabbed myself with the syringe instead, which caused everything to go a bit ‘Hendrix’.


With my surgeon tripping balls and the man’s life dangling by a thread I just opened the freezer box containing the guy’s replacement heart, lobbed into his gaping chest wound and ran out the clock until he died in front of me. What a fucking shambles it was.

I had no idea if what I did was even remotely right, if I’d have to accurately piece together the guy’s lungs and ribs before sewing him back up, or if the operation ends as soon as you attach the new heart. Nothing is explained to you, and I get the feeling that’s entirely intentional.

For starters, the music is like something out of a day-time medical drama geared towards the elderly, the surgeon isn’t even wearing protective gloves and worse yet, his watch can come off and fall into his patient’s body.

What’s the time? It’s time to get ill. Very ill…

At £6.99 a pop on Steam the game feels way too infuriating to warrant a purchase. Honestly, moving a hacksaw around the right way is like a physic based meta puzzle in itself. I get that developer Bossa was trying to go for precision and the whole ‘steady hand’ thing but man, it’s just an endurance test from the word go.

Yet, I feel that this will become something of a cult hit among the Farming and Train Simulator elite. You know, the same people who enjoy gifting the game to each other for a laugh, only to make fake dubstep trailers for it? These guys:

Watch on YouTube

But I don’t know. I tried that heart transplant so many times and just kept on getting the bugger killed. Maybe it’s meant to be like Dark Souls, where wiki guides and tutorial videos will help everyone collectively save his ass, or perhaps he’s isn’t meant to live, but exist as a weird viral experiment for our amusement?

Either way you’ll laugh a lot between bouts of fury and frustration, so I guess if you want to play something a little bit weird and different then you know what to do once the next Steam sale rolls around.

I know one thing though: just never trust me with a person’s life, like ever. Seriously.

Disclosure: To assist in writing this article, Bossa Studios sent Dave a Steam code for Surgeon Simulator 2013 on Steam. No merchandise or advertising was offered or accepted. He’s now on his way to the Mexican border to escape the medical negligence authorities.

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