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Autopsy Simulator, an empty morgue, poorly lit.

Autopsy Simulator review

Autopsy Simulator’s first hour had us hooked as, under the pretence of giving a university lecture, the tutorial talked us through our initial autopsy. The lecture was recorded, so we sadly didn’t get to recreate that scene from Dracula: Dead and Loving It. The problem was that, two hours in, we were still waiting for the tutorial to end.

The game’s commitment to realism is astonishing, more so than the most committed crime show we’ve seen. It’s not just Autopsy Simulator’s spectacularly gruesome visuals, either: you’ll have crunch of bone and the wet slosh of fluids echoing in your ears.

In between conducting autopsies, you’ll engage with the game’s storyline, which tackles the mental decline of Jack, your protagonist. Jack lost his wife a year ago, though heading to therapy is not an option. Autopsy Simulator gets the autopsy/story balance about right. We had a feeling where it was going, probably because we watch so much horror. But it still managed to surprise us, right down to its rather abrupt ending.

And while Autopsy Simulator isn’t stacked with jump scares, just wandering around the dimly lit building, ‘guarded’ by a bored security guard, will give you the chills. Ever been asked to get something from a darkened garage or cellar? We got that same pit-of-the-stomach feeling when Jack informed us we needed to hunt for the required equipment.

Autopsy Simulator, a human heart next to a clipboard.
Image: Woodland Games

What kind of equipment? Anything from an x-ray machine to a vacuum for sucking fluids out of a burnt corpse. We weren’t kidding about the realism, Autopsy Simulator is educational to say the least. You’ll learn about everything from rigor mortis and microorganisms to the physical effects of a heart attack as you rotate a realistic-looking heart in your hands.

But as much as we appreciate the voice work of Patrick Lagner, who plays Jack, we found ourselves wishing he’d just shut up and let us work. Because the reason for our initial tutorial confusion is that Autopsy Simulator never stops holding your hand. And, over the course of the game’s five autopsies, that confusion turned into frustration.

Admittedly, we don’t have the kind of medical knowledge that Jack has, but we thought we’d at least get to try our hand at cracking a case. That never happens. There’s virtually no deduction, no choosing what organ to remove and dissect, no picking a test from a bank of several, nothing. Jack narrates what to do next, and you have no choice in the matter.

We got a real sense of wonder from our first couple of autopsies. We punched the air after the centrifuge (via a button-holding mini-game) confirmed ‘our’ suspicions. But Autopsy Simulator’s hand-holding eroded that wonder, robbing it of that ‘eureka’ moment where you carve your way to the truth. There’s no satisfaction from solving an autopsy if it’s not your solution.

Autopsy Simulator throws in enough new operations to prevent the game from completely stagnating, but its lack of agency never goes away. Signing clipboards as ‘Doctor Poop’ was the only time we really got to make our mark. You wouldn’t think a game called like Autopsy Simulator could descend into tedium, but that’s what happened.

The good news is that developer Woodland Games is working on a sandbox mode which will let you conduct more autonomous autopsies. So it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on his horror/sim hybrid. And if you’re prepared to tackle Autopsy Simulator in bite-sized chunks, you’ll get some fun out of it.

Autopsy Simulator - GameSpew's score

Autopsy Simulator
6 10 0 1
Autopsy Simulator is a realistic exploration of the work of a pathologist, with horror elements thrown in. But, as gorgeously gruesome as its graphics are, it's seriously held back by the amount of hand-holding, robbing you of any real decision-making.
Autopsy Simulator is a realistic exploration of the work of a pathologist, with horror elements thrown in. But, as gorgeously gruesome as its graphics are, it's seriously held back by the amount of hand-holding, robbing you of any real decision-making.
6/10
Total Score

We like..

  • Realistic graphics and sounds
  • Horror elements are generally well done

We don't like..

  • Little actual decision-making or detective work

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