If you were looking for a future administrative career, running a hospital in post-Brexit Britain is likely be about as much fun as it is in pre-Brexit Britain, though probably with more cases of rickets. That is however a fact that seems to have passed Two Point Studios by. Two Point Hospital is the spiritual successor to the classic Theme Hospital, and with the original creators onboard it’s got all the hilarious hospital-simulating pedigree you could hope for.
While you’ll spend most of your time here attempting to make the best of things for everybody, this is the kind of game that thrives on chaos. Two Point Hospital is at its best when everything is crumbling around you with overworked, underpaid staff and a complete lack of funding forcing you to make decisions that you simply wouldn’t under normal circumstances.
Wait. Why does this sound familiar?
You start out with a relatively empty hospital space, and it’s up to you to fill it in a useful and meaningful way. You’ll need a reception and a receptionist to deal with everyone coming through the door, before beginning to tailor the rest of your facility to your patients and their needs. Building rooms for certain types of care is the key, and as you progress you unlock more room types, and items to put in them, with the aim of keeping both your patients and your staff happy. The bigger or more items you pack a room the more prestige it’ll bring to your hospital, which in turn plays into the hospital level rating that you’ll be constantly trying to improve.
Somehow Two Point Studio have managed to make hospital admin fun, and that’s at least partially thanks to coating the whole experience in as much humour as humanly possible. Just as with Theme Hospital, your patients will be attending the hospital with a bunch of crazy and inane fantasy diseases, and it’s your task to try and give them the best care possible.
Thanks to this you’re likely to have a giant pan-removing machine – to cure a nasty case of Pandemic, obviously – nestling next to a psychiatrist who you’ve drafted in to deal with all the cases of Mock Star that turns its victims into Freddie Mercury lookalikes. If it sounds silly, it is, and while the game’s light and terribly British sense of humour might not be for everyone, you’ll be missing out on all the serious strategy stuff if you decide to give it a miss.
There are more sensible underpinnings that your hospitals will need to function properly, so you’ll be looking for plenty of benches to keep patients happy while they wait, drafting in janitors to keep everything clean and working properly, and sticking sensible things like hand sanitiser and fire extinguishers about the place. While the silliness of the diseases is likely to tickle your funny bone the first few times you play, it’s the granular detail of the actual hospital administration that will keep you involved in the long term. Two Point Hospital has the beating heart of a tough management sim despite the humorous window dressing.
While there’s no misleading busses parked outside, watching your finances is crucial to the success of your hospital. Not only does it dictate what rooms you can build and what equipment and furniture you can afford, but it extends to the number and quality of staff you can hire. Unsurprisingly the best doctors and nurses with the widest array of skills and special abilities come at a premium, while the student equivalent will be vastly cheaper, though they might not turn up on time and bring a bunch of bad habits with them.
Besides a silly and unique name – I’ve got Dr Brad Fast and Dr Sylvia Avocado working for me – every member of staff has a brief list of characteristics which should not only help you decide on who to hire, but also lends each and every one of them a personality, despite mainly being these tiny avatars that perform functions in your hospital machine. While you might find staff who’re dull, will work for peanuts, or are just plain lazy, some of them have more unusual quirks – it’s probably best not to think about what Toilet Rage actually constitutes. Besides their personality traits they’ll each have one or more specialisms that dictate where you might want to put them to work, whether that’s doctors that can perform psychiatry or have a good bedside manner, or reception assistants that don’t tire as quickly. That said, you might have spent ages getting the right person for the right role, only to constantly find them in the swanky staff room you made. Not that I’m bitter.
There’s an extensive single player campaign here that follows the construction of your hospital empire and slowly introduces the wider range of wards and rooms that become available to you. Each hospital has a three star rating for you to work towards, and while achieving one star will allow you to progress, it’s far too easy to settle down to try and perfect each one. The further you get the more complicated things become, and it soon becomes a juggling act between the services your patients need and what you can afford. Not having the right facilities will see patients storm out – or worse, die – and your reputation will take a worrying dip that you’ll have to fight to repair.
That hospital rating isn’t just based on how much money you’re making either, with different challenges popping up during play. Some might instruct you to focus on a particular kind of disease, or ask you to ensure that a local journalist enjoys an impressive tour of your site for a story in the paper, and it means that you stay engaged when you might otherwise be settling in or switching off. You can return to your earlier sites as well, picking up where you left off, but with the benefit of the later equipment you’ve unlocked to tackle the new ailments you’ve encountered.
There’s a few technical hiccups and some oddities that come from Two Point Hospital’s occasional lack of explanation. When you’re building rooms, there’s not always any obvious indication of why it won’t allow you to finalise them, though it’s normally because you’ve placed an item that impedes another. It probably shouldn’t have let you place the offending item in the first place! Besides that I suffered from at least one nurse that became stuck in their treatment room, and thanks to not being able to pick them up or move them, they eventually quit. They still remained stuck though, and it was only after removing enough items in the room the the problem resolved itself.
There are few games that can boast the level of personality and humour that Two Point Hospital does while still giving you something serious to sink your time into. For anyone with fond memories of Theme Hospital, this is the silly hospital management sim you’ve been waiting for.