Brain surgery is hardly rocket science. And heart transplants are hardly brain surgery. I don’t know what double kidney transplants aren’t, but they’re no easier than brain surgery and heart transplants. In fact, kidney transplants are the most challenging operations in Surgeon Simulator 2013. I once clumsily dumped a load of scalpels into a man’s guts during a kidney transplant, before accidentally knocking over a still-running bonesaw, which fell on the man’s face and then skittered up and down his torso like a pointy, frightened spider, absolutely murdering him to bits. Death by medical misadventure and massive, bone-saw induced blood loss.
Unlike games such as the ultra earnest Street Sweeper Simulator 2012 and Ski Resort Simulator 2012, Surgeon Simulator 2013 is actually a joke. It joins a teeny yet brilliant genre of physics-powered slapstick games, employing a one-to-one control system in which the five keys controls five individual fingers, while the mouse dumbly moves your surgeon’s single, dopey hand around the “playing area”. Holding the right mouse button twists and rotates the hand, while the left mouse button causes it to descend into a chest cavity, eagerly pawing at glistening, moist and enticingly vital organs.
You’re given no training and few instructions. Surgeon Simulator 2013 is something of a sandbox in this respect, and that’s ironic because a sandbox would be an awful place to perform surgery. Drunkenly puppeteering your hand above trays of sharp instruments, you’ll knock beakers to the floor, sweep all sorts of medical paraphernalia into various orifices and inexpertly jerk spleens from their moorings in an effort to complete, or begin, the operation.
You have more tools than you’ll ever need, from delicate cotton swabs to laser cutters, and plastic spoons to hammers. Even the main menu, appearing in the form of your cluttered desk, is littered with objects to touch and poke and interact with. There’s a working pen and notepad, there’s a telephone you can attempt to answer (though more often than not you’ll simply punch it across the room in your excitement), there are floppy disks to eject and insert into an ancient PC if you’re feeling particularly dextrous.
And the achievements: Surgeon Simulator 2013 preempts most of the silly tricks you’d normally try to idly amuse yourself with. The game understands players implicitly. You’ll believe you’re the first person with the canny notion to drape a patient’s large intestine around his neck like a horrific meat scarf, until you get an achievement for doing just that. The same goes for any configuration of finger gestures you can think of. It’s a strange and proud feeling, that of being patted on the back for sticking your finger up at an unconscious man whose insides you’ve just been tugging on.
It’s a joke that doesn’t outstay its welcome either, spanning just six brief operations: heart, brain and kidney transplants in both an operating theatre and in the back of a speeding ambulance. In that second set of surgeries, your tools up and fly around the place like sharp metal fairies, replacement organs sail out of the back doors, angry drills plunge into pink lungs and we laugh and we laugh and we laugh.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is hilarious to watch and ridiculous to play. It’s stupidly fun in a way that makes writing about it feel utterly futile, like describing Del Boy falling through a hole in the bar, or explaining a funny dog gif to your friends and, when they don’t laugh, saying “do you get it? The dog thinks there’s another dog in the mirror.”
But here we are all the same. The game’s only £6.99 on Steam (a little bit cheaper if you buy it in the next two hours or so), which probably equates to some number of laughs per pence that makes it worthwhile, unless you’re suffering from some sort of humour recession or rapid, uncontrollable chuckle inflation, in which case I can’t help you.