With all the experiences granted to us thanks to the unhinged accessibility of virtual reality, being stood next to an operating table with a patient awaiting procedure has to be the most bizarre. With all the tools at your disposal, life or death in the palm of your hands, the beeping ECG machine all in front of your very eyes, it all comes together to create a strange game that is unlike any other. Surgeon Simulator first hit PC in 2003 putting a twisted, humorous tone on a normally serious situation. It required individual key presses to control each finger which, in turn, made the simplest of tasks almost impossible but, at the same time, it also made it hilarious but for the wrong reasons.
Developers Bossa Studios have translated Surgeon Simulator to the PlayStation VR with Surgeon Simulator: Experience Reality by not only using the headset’s magic to place you next to the operating table, but making it more playable by simplifying the controls. Using the PlayStation Move controllers works the best. Pressing the large top buttons closes the thumb and index fingers, and pressing the triggers closes the rest of the hand. It’s a strange control scheme that is key to success here. Fighting with the collision detection is the first battle you’ll face, though.
Moving the floating hands onscreen worked particularly well as the PlayStation Camera tracked the controllers brilliantly, but if you moved where your virtual mitts can’t, your hands turn skeletal. It’s troublesome, especially when all you’re trying to do is simply grab the bone saw. You’ll also need a lot of room to play Surgeon Simulator, as dropping a tool means you have to bend down and pick it up. Spacial limitations of the PlayStation Camera makes this a bigger task than it should be, which is something you’ll definitely need to take into account for a smoother experience. The devs could have adopted a scheme seen in Loading Human or Job Simulator where items would go back to their original positions if accidentally dropped; it would have made things a lot more bearable.
Performing the different procedures such as replacing a heart or pulling teeth is great fun, and then there are the alien autopsy stages which are on a whole ‘nother level. Using the bone saw to gain access to the patient’s vital organs whilst fighting the temptation to hilariously see what happens when you use the hammer on the guy’s face makes this game a unique experience. If you’re anything like me, however, you’ll try your best to save this guy’s life. No easy job by any means as keeping an eye on the patient’s heartbeat whilst poking at his liver is a peculiar feeling and adds extra tension. It would be an enjoyable experience if the simplest job such as picking a tool up wasn’t so damn difficult.
There are no introductions, no multiplayer modes, nothing really other than just you and the patient, and how you perform procedures is entirely up to you. Later procedures put you in the back of an ambulance which adds a new level of difficulty as the room rocks back and forth, but worry not as procedures don’t ever go into details such as requiring you to reattach organs or stitching up skin, just pull out what’s bad and throw in what’s good.
Surgeon Simulator is, at its heart, made for fun despite its serious aesthetic. The placement of lasers, organs and tissue is all there for you to freely go wild. It takes a lot to kill the patient, so you don’t have to go too slowly or be too subtle, but you do need to watch you don’t pop the guy’s heart with a scalpel. Hilarity ensues when you accidentally send your tools flying whilst trying to grab the tweezers or simply discarding a lung by tossing it away quite literally, something that would get you fired in a real hospital, but that’s what makes Surgeon Simulator: Experience Reality so special.
The graphics are alright on the PlayStation VR but certainly not up to usual PS4 standards. The operating room feels authentic with the machines, but the drab textures ruin the overall feel of being in a real hospital environment, especially due to the feeling that you’re alone. Textures are drab everywhere here. The organs are just shaped items, albeit bloody. This lack of detail does spoil the immersion a tad, but it doesn’t take away the fun that can be had here.
Developer: Bossa Studios
Publisher: Bossa Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4
Release Date: 3rd December 2016