I’m still not sure what I just played.
The Amateur Surgeon games have never managed to make it onto my radar, and going in the third game in the series I expected that I would be playing through a mostly serious medical simulation. I could not have been more wrong. The game itself is so wrong, on so many levels, that I almost could not believe what I was playing. The body of this review will read like a list of things that one should absolutely not enjoy, and yet for myself Amateur Surgeon 3 ended up being a more engaging experience than a description of its content would lead you to believe.
Amateur Surgeon 3 is absurd, crude, and at times genuinely disturbing. You play as the titular surgeon, performing makeshift operations on inmates, explorers, robots and a variety of other odd patients. Your tools as a surgeon include a pizza cutter, vacuum cleaner, chainsaw, cigarette lighter, and a stapler. The depictions of injuries are certainly far from realistic, typical issues include cement inside of patients’ bodies, fire breathing slugs, and toothbrushes or glass jammed into them. Between operations, the game is loaded with ridiculous dialogue and jokes that intentionally skirt around using harsh language by spending most of their time alluding to the word the writers don’t want to use. This is the kind of game one masks from fellow passengers on the train or bus.
The gameplay itself initially does little to redeem the content surrounding it, as this is largely a game of repetitive actions. Staple wounds, cauterize them, and then apply medical gel is an example of a typical workflow. The player must keep up the pace in order to accrue combos and eventually save the patient. The touch controls do work well, and while it isn’t the most complex of games it ends up being satisfying to pull off a series of tasks without goofing up.
Amateur Surgeon 3 is also a free to play title, meaning that the game will ask you for money if you want to play for a certain amount of time and still use your tag team partner (one of the game’s new features). Tag team partners perform special moves, the dog that the player starts with as a partner flies in to heal your patient with a lick. This is important, as patients’ health must be managed via an ever depleting source of syringes. Players have the option of continuing a failed mission by paying, and can also purchase coins for upgrades or tag team partners by paying. While one can play the game without paying, it has all of the typical free to play hooks built in.
It must sound as if I didn’t care for the game, and at the start I definitely did not. However; through sheer persistence Amateur Surgeon 3 managed to win me over. The endless stream of nonsensical humor and the tiny increases in gameplay complexity eventually pulled me in. The game adds a variety of tasks, and while they all essentially revolve around picking the right tool and tapping the screen in the right place, it becomes increasingly challenging. The freemium nature of the game can occasionally be a roadblock, and I would have much rather had a one time fee to not worry about being constantly sold on additional upgrades.
In the end, Amateur Surgeon 3 was just as strange and crude as when I started playing it, but it worked its way into my heart. I know I probably shouldn’t enjoy this game, but I do.
Amateur Surgeon 3 is available for Free as a Universal App. This app was tested on an iPad gen 4.