Autopsy Simulator Review: A Narrative-Driven Dissection of Guilt

Credit: Woodland Games | Team17

If I had a nickel each time I played a pathologist-based horror sim chock full of trauma, I’d have two nickels, which may be strange but I’m glad it’s happened again with Autopsy Simulator. Woodland Games and Team17 Autopsy Simulator is almost exactly what it sounds like but with a few twists and surprises. However, there’s a few skeletons hiding in this morgue.

In a land of power washers, supermarkets, and trucking simulators, Autopsy Simulator makes a strange yet quiet ripple into the landscape. Players step into the shoes of Jack Hanman, a pathologist who unknowingly is about to enter the spiraling of a lifetime. While navigating through the various dissection steps of drawing fluids or ripping spinal columns out, it’s easy to get lost in its almost six-hour playtime.  Each gruesome detail makes you want to look away, but you keep slicing and photographing thanks to its medically-accurate consultations.

A Cold Case Opens

During it’s development process, the developers worked with a team of real-life pathologists to accurately depict the autopsy process. This consultation makes the game so much more believable and engrossing. Sure you could have the corpse of a burnt to a crisp man on the table, but hearing Jack talk about muscle reactions makes you forget about the grotesque case sitting in front of you.

While you may be looking for a true sandbox experience, the story mode will draw you in. Dead Memories serves as Autopsy Simulator‘s story mode. In this mode, we follow Jack as he slashes through personal demons and bodies. Following a career downfall and the loss of his wife, Alice, Jack lives an alcohol-fueled life. However, after finding something from his past hidden in a corpse, he becomes paranoid. Something – or someone – is out to get him. Weighed down by suffocating guilt, Jack is in for the fight of a lifetime. Throughout the psychological torture Jack endures, Patrick Langner’s voice acting truly grounds the story. Hearing his panic, delusion, grief, and utter despair makes for a haunting experience.

It’s easy to root for Jack. From the prologue, we see how he interacts with Alice, and how much his grief still festers inside. However, as the chapters wheel on by, that perception begins to shift. Hallucinations of Alice, voices pleading for help, and Jack’s paranoia leads you to believe he’s hiding something. So when that faceoff in the final scene comes, you don’t know what to believe. But that final scene does cause some abrupt friction. Once it’s revealed who has been behind Jack’s torture, we get a point-blank finale. While this finale answers a few questions, it opens up even more. Had Steven done all of this in a Hannibal and Will Graham-esque method? How were the cases connected? More importantly, how much farther would Steven go?

Credit: Woodland Games | Team17

Not So Open and Shut

During Dead Memories, players get to interact with six dissections. While each body becomes more and more profane, there’s still something missing from its story. Including the relationship between the bodies you operate on. They feel like they could be connected, but it isn’t clarified whether these bodies are. Although we are to play pathologist and not detective, as a player, you can’t help but to draw your own conclusions.

“But this isn’t a true sandbox simulator!” No, it’s not. Not yet at least. Although an Autopsy Only mode is soon on the way, the story mode does not give true agency like some fans expected. When dissecting a body, there’s a checklist to follow in a very specific order. You cannot go ahead of different steps nor complete all the dissection before leaving to work in the lab. Nor does any true ramification happen for incorrectly dissecting. This lack of illusion of choice can be frustrating especially when the task involves making your way out to the basement.

For the most part, the very linear story plays out smoothly. It’s set at a calm pace that keeps you in a routine between each body. It almost makes you feel like Jack – except without all the trauma. Each body tells its own unique, yet horrifying story. With these graphic details, the horror does not translate over as well. While a few shadows in a window or a sudden loud sound will play, some of the scariest parts of this game lie in its mini-games. Hammer vs shed lock is truly your worst enemy.

Credit: Woodland Games | Team17

Final Clipboard Notes

Autopsy Simulator is incredibly detailed, grotesque, grungey, and icky in all the right ways. It satiates your morbid curiosity while mind-gaming you into believing another ghost is just around the corner. Its story is generally well-paced with rounded characters that make the player sympathize with them. Not only does it provide medically accurate autopsies, but this game faces heavy-hitting topics like substance abuse, trauma, and grief with grace. With just a taste of dissections and cases, the Autopsy Only Mode will be exciting to look forward to.

Although there are a few skeletons in its closet through strangely timed audio cues, scarce jumpscares, and a rushed ending, Autopsy Simulator is a rare experience that makes you equal parts disgusted and curious.

Autopsy Simulator is now available for PC via Steam.

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A gruesome dissection into grief, trauma, and bodies.