Who needs med school anymore?
Ah, the life of a surgeon: having people’s lives in the palm of your hand, wearing that prestigious white doctor’s coat, and raking in those big paychecks so you could buy yourself a diamond-encrusted surgical blade if you really wanted to. It’s such a shame, then, that society makes us have to jump through hoops and finish years of med school just to have the chance at the dream. Sure, I get they want us to, you know, practice operating on people, and to know what we’re doing and all, but what about the rest of us who just want to perform some surgery now? Well that’s where Amateur Surgeon 3 from Adult Swim Games comes in, where the only things you’ll need to become a world-famous surgeon are a mobile device and a bloody pizza cutter.
In Amateur Surgeon 3, you play as Ophelia Payne, the aspiring new protégée of Alan Probe, the crusty-pizza-delivery-guy-turned-surgeon whom you played as for the first two Amateur Surgeon games. For the first time, we have several different world maps, which house multiple surgeries in all sorts of outlandish environments like prisons and jungles: paving the way for some pretty ridiculous and nicely varied scenarios. We also have the new introduction of tag-team surgery, with assisting sub-characters like Mr. Giblets, the genetically-enhanced pug, who each come with their own special powers that can be used whenever you find yourself in a procedural pinch.
All of the basic fundamentals of amateur surgery from the first two games return here in this third installment, and everything is polished to a nice (albeit bloody) sheen. Cauterizing flesh wounds with a rusty lighter has never felt so fluid, and pulling random objects like biting piranhas or wooden stakes out of people’s bodies is an absolute breeze. In addition to all of your basic actions, there are also a number of unique surgery components that you’ll encounter across your adventure as well, like electrocuting flying bats inside of a patient’s stomach, or sawing off a little mangled arm stump with your chainsaw before a new prosthetic one can be attached. The game is bloody, gross, and expectedly weird, but I wouldn’t have my surgeries any other way.
Not only is the cartoony presentation and light-hearted premise a real joy to take in, but the gameplay itself is just downright fun; so much so, that it’s got me thinking of abandoning this whole video game journalism thing and applying to medical school to get this show on the road. But my favorite part about Amateur Surgeon 3 this time around is the way you can actually progress in the game, by earning new upgrades and skills to make later surgeries more easy-going: perhaps, dare I say, rising up the ranks from Amateur Surgeon to Novice Surgeon? By successfully completing surgeries, you’ll earn coins that can be used to unlock a number of multi-tiered upgrade paths, which do everything from improving the effectiveness of your lighter, to reducing the amount of injury that’s caused when pizza cutter is introduced to skin.
Amateur Surgeon 3 also has the biggest amount of replay value out of any other game in the series. In each surgery, you build up a combo meter by stringing together successful moves without making any mistakes, and you score points by doing everything from stapling a tiny pocket wound, to replacing entire sections of a patient’s broken spine. Score high enough and you’ll earn a three-star ranking. But for those of you who really want to shed that “amateur” designation from your title, each level also comes with two additional bonus stars that can be earned, which task you with completing the surgeries under some high-stress parameters, like not making a single mistake the entire time, or dealing with double amounts of hazards like live bats or fire roaches.
Along these lines, I have to bring up Amateur Surgeon 3‘s free-to-play model: a first for the series, but one of the better examples I’ve seen of freemium done right in a mobile game. The only things that you’ll probably have to buy in the game are completely optional tag-team partners, although even they can be earned through sheer dedication and surgical perseverance. Besides the occasional full-screen ad or two, the only times you’ll need to wait is after you’ve completely botched three surgeries and run out of lives. Your essential “lives” in the game are represented by blood packs, each of which takes 30 real-time minutes to recharge after being depleted. What’s great about this is that the game actually encourages you to be good at playing it, and to make strategic decisions about which missions you think you’ll be able to take on next without failing. And besides, the repercussions of botching a real-life surgery are probably a whole lot worse, so we really shouldn’t be complaining about some 30-minute wait time here.
However, for as great as the game is, one thing that does manage to dampen the whole experience has to do with the actual story of your surgery adventures. A lot of the storyline dialogue tends to drag on for way longer than what’s probably necessary, and the humor just isn’t as prevalent or twistedly sick as it was in the first two games: like you would fully expect it to be in a game that’s slapped with the Adult Swim brand on it. I constantly found myself skipping through the dialogue without really reading it, or replaying older surgeries so I didn’t have to move forward and be hit with another rambling story interaction. Of course, you always have the option to skip every one of these story segments, and I guess it’s still a real testament to how fun the gameplay is that I couldn’t sit still through it long enough without getting the itch to take my pizza cutter to another victim – I mean, “patient” in need.
I’ve always felt that Adult Swim’s Amateur Surgeon series contains some of the most overlooked and underappreciated games on the entire App Store today. But now with Amateur Surgeon 3, they have released what is easily the best game in the series to date, and with a truly commendable free-to-play model, I really hope this one catches on with players faster than those blood-sucking leeches caught on to some of my patients in the jungle portion of the game. While the gross-out concept and humor might not be for everyone, there’s still no denying how much fun and rewarding the actual gameplay is, for gamers and real-live surgeons alike. And if you happen to have a friend or family member who’s been impaled by something lately, don’t hesitate to give me a call – I’ve been trying to boost up my field experience lately.