Ever wondered what it’s like being a highly renowned emergency room surgeon in the middle of a life-threatening operation, then look no further, because Bossa Studios has brought the ER to VR with Surgeon Simulator: Experience Reality.
Surgeon Simulator: Experience Reality is a game that was released on December 3rd, 2016 for the PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift. The game will run you $19.99 and is Bossa Studios’ virtual reality adaptation of the original Surgeon Simulator game – a game which was originally released back in 2013. I beat the original Surgeon Simulator back when it was released and really enjoyed my time playing it, so when I found out that the game was coming to VR with Surgeon Simulator: ER, I was really looking forward to it and was hopeful that it would present me with new content and serve as an extension to the original game. Unfortunately, Surgeon Simulator: ER was not at all what I expected.
I find mixed feelings regarding Surgeon Simulator: ER and my experience playing it on the HTC Vive. New players to the franchise will find the game wonderfully unique and enjoy the challenge of breaking, cutting, pulling and stabbing patients in the name of health and medicine. However, this game is almost identical to the original version of Surgeon Simulator content-wise, so for those familiar with the original game, there isn’t much to write home about. This was a major disappointment for me. You aren’t really getting anything new because you are still performing the same surgeries in the same environments. The defining differences that set Surgeon Simulator: ER apart from the original Surgeon Simulator are that you now get to perform those life-saving medical procedures in VR and you are now also able to use BOTH of your hands while operating instead of just one.
In addition to players now being able to use both of their hands, Surgeon Simulator: ER adopted a new set of controls with its move to VR. The new controls for the Vive are much more intuitive and easy to use compared to the controls from the original version of the game. I personally loved this change because it is now significantly easier to grab items, perform tasks, and complete surgeries within the game. The only real drawback or annoyance that I found with the controls is that during the game, pushing your hand too far within an object such as a table or the body of the patient will cause your hand in game to turn into a skeleton. This prevents you from grabbing items until you are no longer inside of or colliding with the object. Sometimes this control feature was a bit buggy and touchy and I would find my hand turning into a skeleton when they shouldn’t have been. Despite that, I really enjoyed the new controls and with a bit of practice, I was picking up the tiniest of items with ease and working in tight spaces.
Even though I really enjoyed the changes to the controls and the ease of use that it presented, I found that the new controls also shortened the length of gameplay and took away from the original charm of the game. The game is just too easy now and the absence of the frustrating controls makes it feel like there is a significant part of the game missing. I completed every level of the game and even replayed several of the levels in less than a two-hour time period. I’m also sad to say that I don’t think I will be playing this game again anytime soon, since the levels become repetitive and by the time you’ve reached a new environment, the novelty of that environment has worn off. This is extremely disappointing, especially for a game that costs $19.99. The game has potential but level-wise is not as developed as I would have hoped. Don’t get me wrong, there is still replay value in the game, especially for those who are perfectionists, but aside from that the only thing that will get me wanting to play this game again is if Bossa Studios adds more content.
Despite a lack of new content and moments in the game where the development fell short, I found the execution of the game to be fairly well done. Surgeon Simulator just feels like it is a game that was meant to be played in VR. And now that it is, one of my favorite things about it is how the VR world and the interactivity of it works to create an immersive surgical adventure that suits the platform. What I was doing in game felt natural and the depth of space was easy to understand and work with. The immersion that I felt as I filled the slightly dark and humorous role of Doctor Nigel Burke is one that only VR could have given me.
Surgeon Simulator: Experience Reality is a fun game and gives players a great VR experience, but it is not what I had hoped for and it is not a game that I would recommend gamers go and buy right now, especially if they are familiar with the series. There isn’t enough new content in the game to make it unique or challenging enough for prolonged entertainment, yet it is still a one-of-a-kind experience that everyone using VR should have.