Surgeon Simulator has had a pretty impressive go of it thus far, with widespread acclaim and streamers going a little crazy for it upon its original release and certainly one of the better PSVR experiences. As such, it saw a rather celebrated reveal upon coming to the Switch, particularly with its Joy-Con enabled motion controls. The emphasis here though is on co-op play (hence the CP of the CPR in the title) and is relying pretty hard on the fact that the Switch is a co-op console out of the box. The game wants you to play it with another person and although it’s certainly fun to jump into the intestines of someone and try and fix their ailments, the Switch version is certainly lagging behind its previous editions in a variety of ways.
Surgeon Simulator puts you in the shoes of a surgeon (who knew) and you’re tasked with saving the lives of your unfortunate patients who happen to be under your particular knife. To do this, you’re provided with a variety of tools (including a drill, a hammer, a saw alongside a variety of actually useful medical equipment) to use to ensure your subject doesn’t die a rather horrible death under your hand. Kind of.
You see, the whole point – if you can call it a ‘point’ – of the game is have a right old laugh trying to save the life of the innocent person who lay before you, expecting their surgery to go perfectly fine, blissfully unaware that you are hacking at them with utensils you’d normally find in someone’s shed. You’re not meant to take this game seriously and it’s fully aware of this fact, leaving you to kill a bunch of people over and over again whilst you try to work out what the bloodyhell you’re supposed to actually be doing.
Right from the off you realise this Surgeon Simulator isn’t necessarily meant to be played with buttons and controllers. You guide a hand around the menu screen (in a very VR kind of way) and move it up and down and around with the shoulder buttons. It’s fiddly as all hell, especially in handheld mode. Don’t play this game in handheld, unless you want to drop your Switch on the floor and stamp on it. It’s at this point during my playthrough that I realised why they were pushing the motion control aspect of the game so prominently and it’s simply because the game is infinitely easier when played with detached motion controls. If you treat the Joy-Cons like PlayStation move controllers it all starts to click into place and you’ll be lunging in to pull out kidneys in no time.
The first level is horrendously difficult, to the point that it’s almost unfair. You’re given a heart transplant to do with no instruction of what or how to pull of such a procedure. With the given tools you’re off to the races and it’s quite frankly abhorrent how ridiculous the controls are from the off. Your ‘hands’ can interact with everything, so it’s up to you what you want to use in order to operate on your patient. Things can kill them rather quickly (upon trying to saw through a rib cage I found myself stabbing this poor dude in the face numerous times) so it’s all a bit trial and error. If you can pull it off first time, you’re frankly a genius and should probably sign up for medical school immediately. If you don’t, there’s every chance you’re going to be there for a while trying to work out just how on earth you’re going to get this done.
Of course, this is all part of the experience. In a Goat Simulator sort of way the controls are meant to be shit because you’re not supposed to really do anything correctly. It was just by sheer luck/frustration that I got past this level in the first place and the game is fully aware of how annoying it can be. It’s assuredly lost something away from the VR of it all and there’s little to make up for it as the novelty of virtual reality made it even more ridiculous. Away from VR? It’s not fun, it’s just exhausting.
There’s not an awful lot included either. With five operations, you would think that the sheer fact each one takes so damn long to figure out would pad the game out a little but it doesn’t. Upon realising the length of the game is down to just being frustrated as all hell with how it’s all supposed to be completed the jig is up. It doesn’t take too long to click that a game like this with very little else to offer other than counting up the variety of ways of which you can kill a person before you finally, actually save them is a tedious endeavour and whilst I was playing through the eye transplant operation my mind started to wander, curious as to what else I could have been doing with my time instead. It’s a shame, to be honest. I don’t to sit down and play a video game only to wonder if I could be more productive elsewhere.
The motion control aspect of the game is where it shines, bizarrely. Unfortunately, it’s just too much like hard work to even want to see how much you’ve learned from the game and if you’re one of those people who despise the very idea of moving your hands around whilst playing a video game, Surgeon Simulator CPR isn’t going to do a damn thing to entice you into thinking otherwise.
As I was forcing myself to play through this game for the sake of the review my partner was watching on and having a right old laugh at me attempting to rip out teeth, quite literally. We’ve played the game together several times and came to a very strange conclusion that the game is far more fun to watch someone play than it is to play yourself.
It’s the video game equivalent of watching someone fall over on the pavement.
Surgeon Simulator CPR is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Bossa Studios
Publisher: Bossa Studios
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.