If it were honest, Heart Surgery 2 would be entitled ‘Can You Follow Basic Instructions?’ Keeping with the motto: Use the right tools at the right time. With only a single surgery available, an operation that’s been streamlined to acct like a can’t-fail tutorial, Heart Surgery 2 offers no freedom and a bare minimum of gameplay compared to other options in the genre operation simulation games.
Clearly aimed at children, with an incongruously bright (and predominantly pink) color scheme, Heart Surgery 2 never lets the player off the rails, providing a vivid but brief and tightly-controlled surgery experience. As an unnamed heart surgeon attending to the – supposedly young, although the art style does a poor job of conveying that fact – patient, John, who requires a wholesale heart transplant.
Open heart surgery turns out to be a good deal less stressful than you might think, as you are guided firmly along every point in the way, with visual nodes indicating where to use an instrument and the narrator instructing you on which instrument to use. Although even a mouse-based interface has a great deal of promise for tactile interactivity, there’s nothing fancy about being a surgeon in Heart Surgery 2. Click the tool, click the node. In two instances you will be required to hold down the cursor and mime a basic rotating motion, but the mechanics go no further than that. Failure is impossible, as nothing happens when you click the wrong area.
Seeing as how you’re not allowed to fail at tool use, one would hope that you’d at least be given the freedom to figure out what tools you need to use at your leisure. Here, too, the game developers refused to take off the training wheels. At every point in the game, you are told what to use and how to use it. This goes so far as to include incongruously crayola-colored medical equipment so you won’t get them confused. The order of using nigh-identical tools, such as the aforementioned colorful tubing, also is set in stone, with no deviations allowed. Even if you know what to do, you cannot ‘mix it up’ by starting with a different part of the surgical process.
Some aspects of this process also show signs of sloppy coding, as when using a specific blood-draining tool causes the mouse to briefly desync with the game window. Some flickering also occurs in specific games.
Finally, once you’ve dutifully followed your instructions, your reward is an anemic victory screen that encourages you to replay the game or try another way. Just as the game lacks any sense of emotional reward in its gameplay, so, too, does winning feel empty.
While young children may be distracted for some time by Heart Surgery 2, the brevity of its surgery means that even your young ones are more likely than not to move on to greener pastures with leveling systems and other, long term hooks. Ironically, for a medical game, there’s simply not enough meat on Heart Surgery 2’s bones.