Dark Cut 3 is the latest visceral surgery title from Armor Games, with programming by John Cooney (jmtb02). The sequel to Dark Cut 1 & 2, this time taking a sci-fi, time-traveling angle with the usual historical setting. The game brings you the same intense operations you've come to either love or cringe at. The production values and story are the best so far for the series and give context to gameplay that's been toned down to be less punishing. As a result, this is definitely the best game in the Dark Cut series yet. Due to graphic depictions of mutilated human anatomy, including dismembered limbs and bloody gore, this game is recommended for Mature Audiences only.
Gameplay is simple: hold down the mouse button and sweep it over flashing squares or dotted-line areas to perform different parts of an operation, from cleaning a wound, to placing a cast, to weaving stitches. Your patient has only a certain amount of health, so you have to act fast and be careful not to cut or stitch any part of them other than the designated zones or you'll hasten their demise instead of preventing it. Most of the scenes take place during a war, so audio and visual distractions will throw you off and potentially stress you out. Instead of forcing you through a linear series of scenes like the last two games, this one has a branching structure modeled after a genetic tree. Complete all the missions to win, but be aware there are bonus missions unlocked by solving certain operations with speed and skill.
Analysis: Dark Cut 3 is a good example of how Web game production is approaching AAA quality. The budgets and dev cycles are still an order of magnitude smaller, but the persistence, refinement of gameplay and appeal to quality is similar. This game takes a good idea, a mature surgery game set in a historical context, and smoothes the gameplay's edge enough to let you appreciate the full experience, and it is much a more playable experience than its predecessors. The story line is kind of like Assasin's Creed, with similar melodrama and suspension of disbelief issues, but instead of traveling through time killing people, you do just the opposite. This may result in a meditation on causality and the value of human life, but one has to think there was some untapped potential in exploring time-travel in a manner similar to how Chrono Trigger did it, much less something as cohesive as Braid. Treat yourself to some bloody empathy.