The prospect of managing a hospital is an incredibly bleak one, least not in our current climate. The idea of managing a privatised Hospital even more so. It’s a grim prospect and one that doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. If someone said to me “Kieran, imagine that, but a game” I’d tell them that it needs to be instantly deleted. A game like that shouldn’t work. Yet, somehow, Two Point Studios has managed to make it work and it’s incredible.
Two Point Hospital is the spiritual successor to Theme Hospital — a game that I never played. As you’ll likely have guessed, or know, Two Point Hospital is a management/sim game which tasks you to build and manage a Hospital in the hope to turn over a profit. You’ll be faced with staffing choices, adapting to outbreaks and ensuring your hospital meets the standards of the health inspector that periodically pops in for their routine visit. It sounds boring, right? It’s not.
This type of game could quite easily fall on the wrong side of crass (I’m not even sure there’s a right side, to be honest) but manages to avoid so by injecting huge amounts of humour into the game. Two Point Hospital steers clear of real-life ailments in favour of genuinely humorous ones and it’s this humour that runs through every thread of the game. Mission names have nods to pop culture, posters sport silly phrases and artwork and the hospital radio runs ads which aren’t too dissimilar to those from Grand Theft Auto, albeit a lot more family-friendly. The in-game narrator, of sorts, personifies someone that we all know – the cliche secretary who wants to be anywhere but at work. They periodically broadcast the quips through the tannoy that genuinely made me laugh and this small addition acts as the perfect coating for the comical feel that Two Point Studios have successfully harnessed. Side note: Cheesy Gubbins still makes me laugh and you can’t do anything to stop that.
This feel ties in nicely with the game’s art style. Two Point Hospital isn’t going for realism here. It instead opts for a 3d stylised cartoon aesthetic. I’m trying to avoid likening it to Pixar here but, yeah… think Pixar meets Aardman. It’s perfectly suited to the game but the crowning jewel is in the detail, namely the animation. The weird and wonderful equipment used to cure patients of their ailments begs to be observed and you’ll often find yourself roaming the halls of the hospital like some kind of all-seeing deity armed with a magnifying glass.
Games such as this often work better with a keyboard and mouse and the successful transition to a controller is no mean feat. Fortunately, Two Point Studios have nailed this transition. You never feel limited by having only a literal handful of buttons to mash. Menus are easily accessible and navigable, room building is intuitive and actions such as speeding up/slowing down time are quickly accessibly via a simple button press. It simply works well.
As you venture through the campaign you’ll be introduced to new features but this never gets overwhelming. There’s a sizeable amount of gameplay here, particularly at a management level, but it never veers into being too complex. It’s manageable. It’s a manageable management game. The core gameplay is to adapt to the influx of patients by building consultation rooms and equipment for curing ailments and diagnosing conditions. The better equipped your hospital, the more capacity it can hold but you’ll need to hire more staff to run the show for you. Doctors, Nurses, Janitors and Assistants make up your team and each has their own set of skills which makes them better suited for working in specific areas of your hospital. You’re required to keep your staff happy by making sure they have regular breaks and are paid a reasonable salary (what a novel concept).
You aren’t left on your own, though. You’re lead through the story with story objectives such as ‘Create this room’, ‘hire this staff member’. You will, however, be occasionally be thrown a curveball in the form of a challenge. Will you take the mantle to suppress an outbreak of lightheadedness for some extra rewards, for example? Make sure your equipment is repaired before accepting these! The rewards come in the form of XP, Cash and Premium Cash (Kudosh) Don’t worry, there are no in-game purchases here. Kudosh can only be earned in-game and is used used to purchase so more exotic decorations to spruce up your Hospital. Each of the campaign’s levels (hospitals) has up to three stars available to attain, each of which requires meeting certain criteria such as specific level (rank) of your hospital, earning x amount of cash or curing x amount of patients. You can progress through the campaign without attaining three-stars across the board so it’s likely this will only appeal to the completionists out there.
There’s an awful lot to this game that I’ve not covered such as staff training, running marketing campaigns and some other bits from later in the game but I’ll leave them as a surprise. But simply put, Two Point Hospital is incredible. It’s a game that stands perfectly on its own but folks who played Theme Hospital will likely gain a bit of something extra from it. Easter eggs and nods to Theme Hospital will have gone over my head but I’m certain they’re there. Two Point Studios has managed to create an enticing world that makes you want to be a part of. It’s comforting. This is down to the humour and whimsy but also the gameplay which is a perfect level of management without teetering into Dark Souls levels of torture. This is perfect for me, but folks hankering for a more hardcore experience might not find it here, at least not in the early parts of the campaign. Regardless, Two Point Hospital’s transition to consoles is nothing short of greatness and finally opens up the game to experienced by whole new audiences, and it should be experienced by everyone. I can’t wait to see more from the Two Point Universe.