Developer: Adult Swim Games
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The Amateur Surgeon series from Adult Swim gets its third entry, and is now free-to-play to boot. The goofy gameplay of the series is well-preserved here, but the monetization does drag it down to a degree.

AmateurSurgeon3-07For the uninitiated, players control a surgeon who doesn’t use typical – or safe – methods to treat her patients. No, Dr. Ophelia Payne must use unconventional tools like pizza cutters, chainsaws, car batteries, and blowtorches to make sure her patients and their bizarre maladies are properly treated. Wounds must be stapled close, cauterized with a lighter, and then have a healing gel applied. Broken bones must be removed with chainsaws, and new ones burned in. Infesting bugs must be shocked to death. That sort of thing. Completing tasks in proper and rapid succession increases the combo meter and gets more points, the metric which all surgeons are judged upon.

The fascinating thing about the game is the language of the mechanics: there’s a lot of tools to use and a lot of situations in which to use them, and it can get confusing when new ones are presented, but eventually the sequences become second-nature. It must be fascinating to watch an outsider take on all these complex systems in a skillful way, when it seems so hard-to-understand on the outside. I suppose it’s like real surgery in that sense, except real surgery is thankfully cleaner and less “exotic” than it is here. Amateur Surgeon 3 is a lot cheaper than real surgery, though.

AmateurSurgeon3-06The game features iCloud save synchronization, and does it in a very intelligent way: instead of just having one game slot to share between devices, there are multiple save slots. By default, when launching the game on a new device, it shows a new save game slot, but other save slots are there as well. This way, those who have multiple devices owned by different people connected to the same iCloud account can play without issue, and those who do want the synchronization have the option as well.

The game is free-to-play, and it largely manifests in the lives timer. Players get three lives that recharge at a rate of 30 seconds per life. So, players that don’t fail get to keep playing. Those who do have to wait to get back in the ring. Certain situations do get thrown at players where they have to take on tougher challenges for ‘bonus’ stars, like not failing or not being able to use the death-delaying syringe at all. I qualify the term ‘bonus’ because earning them regularly becomes necessary in order to proceed further onward. So, the chances are good that players will often be forced to wait or buy new lives. As well, there’s ads; including one that annoyingly pops up right on the initial launch of the game, and a coin system for buying upgrades.

Still, the free-to-play aspect does open up the game to a wider audience, and basing the timer on deaths, not plays, is much better of a system in a world where far-more abusive ones exist. Still, they can get in the way of what is otherwise an entertaining game.

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