Review by Elhaz_Thorn

"Traumatically Fun."

Ever since I saw this as an upcoming title on Gamespot, it's piqued my interest and curiosity. After receiving it in the mail some weeks back, winning it on an auction site, I carefully peeled back that plastic and inserted my game chip into my DS. And gosh, I think it was love at first sight. I mean, the graphics are nothing special, but they don't need to be. This game is just so wonderful I'm at a loss for description.

As I said, graphics are nothing special. Cell shaded anime-style characters with no animation, and some '3D rendered looking' graphics for the body you're operating on. To comment on the sound, I think the voices are just wonderful. They won't talk most of the time, mainly just short comments during the operation such as "Good work doctor" "What are you doing?!" and "Let's begin". The operating sounds are a little exaggerated, but I don't think it's a bad thing.

The first few levels are a tutorial so that you may learn basic skills such as suturing cuts and stopping bleeding. All so simple with that nifty little stylus. As you progress through the game, it's surprisingly multidimensional. You play as Derek Stiles, a surgeon at Hope Hospital. In the midst of a career of lifetime learning, he faces many issues regarding his own duties, ethics, along with trying to prevent death. Find out what the surgeon feels.

Basically the entire game play revolves around operating on people. You might find that repetitive, but I find it most interesting and will have it no other way. Before each operation, you'll be briefed on your objectives, and they'll guide you along. Ten tools are at your disposal during an operation. A laser to incinerate tumours and viruses, antibiotic gel to stop bleeding and disinfect, a drain to.... drain fluid, forceps to pick up objects, your hand to apply membranes, a scanner to magnify which also doubles as an ultrasound device, a scalpel for incisions, stitches to suture wounds, a syringe to apply medication, and bandages to finish up the operation.

In each operation, you will be required to complete the objectives. It's not as easy as it sounds, though. The patient will have a measure of 'vitals'. If this reaches 0, it is considered a fail. Same thing happens if your time runs out or if you miss one too many times. Hence the player must maintain a balance between accuracy and speed.

If there are negative things about this game, it's that it's too short. As far as replay value goes, once you finish the game, you'll unlock one of seven extra missions that'll take a little more than luck to complete. And if you're a bit of an obsessive like me, you'll want to achieve an S-rank on every level. Other than that, the game's just too short.

Another thing I didn't care too much for... was that this game was a little too 'extraordinary'. You may look at me funny and say that's a good thing, but I expected this game to be 'a day in the life of a regular old surgeon' type of story. Without giving too much away, it's not. There are a couple of paranormal themes in the game. (And not even any broken bones to treat!)

Personally it took me a very short time to beat the game, possibly an accumulated time of about eight hours to just beat the story mode. Because of its length, I would recommend maybe trying a friend's copy before committing yourself to buying it. In the end, I think this game would cater to only a highly specific cut of the total market audience. If you're not into medicine and playing doctor, then it probably won't appeal too much to you. But to others, I truly think this one's a game you truly have to experience.

As a summary, the things I liked were...
+ There's such great use of the stylus
+ It's very challenging!
+ It's very dramatic. You'll empathise with most of the characters, and will most likely not just sit back and let the patient die (you heartless worm). You'll be confronted yourself with ethics and opinions. The game will give you something to think about.

Things I didn't care much for were...
- It's too short, for such a lovely game
- It's more extraordinary than I would have liked


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/06, Updated 03/05/07


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