With healthcare well and truly under the political microscope right now – whether it’s a seemingly inevitable slide toward privatisation in the UK or the fight to nationalise it in the US – it feels like the perfect time for Two Point Hospital to come to consoles. Originally released on PC in 2018, this modern day successor to Theme Hospital is infecting PS4, Xbox One and Switch next week. Whatever platform you pick, it’s a great hospital management sim with a wonderfully quirky sense of humour.
From our original Two Point Hospital review:
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.
For the console ports, Sega and Two Point Studios worked alongside Red Kite Games to handle the conversion. What’s surprising when compared to other management sims making the jump to console is just how little work has had to be done on the game’s front end UI. You still have the same quick menu access in the bottom left hand corner, a simple info panel in the bottom right (which has been lightly redesigned for added clarity), and your current objectives in the top right hand corner. If you didn’t have button icons overlaid, you could easily confuse the two.
Shifting from keyboard and mouse to controller also feels natural and intuitive. Camera control is handled by the analogue stick and zoom on the triggers, while face buttons do exactly what you’d expect to bring up menus, select or go back, and game speed and pausing is handled by clicking the analogue sticks. Honestly, the only thing that caught me out while playing was going between PS4 and Switch and A and B being in opposite positions to Cross and Circle. Life as a game reviewer is hard.
There’s a ton of increasingly challenging content to delve into here, with the base game joined by the Bigfoot and Pebberley Island expansions. The game has evolved on PC since its launch, gaining things like the ability to copy and paste rooms (saving you plenty of time) and redecorating for a more personal hospital decor. The Superbugs Initiative and Sandbox Mode are two features from the PC version that aren’t available at launch, but Sega will be adding these in an update in late March.
With its chunky cartoony art style, the game looks great on whatever platform you play. It’s solid on base PlayStation 4 with an effectively locked 30fps, no matter how hectic your hospital gets. As soon as you’re pushing for a three star rating on a hospital, it will be as busy as a bee hive, as patients with all manner of ailments flood through your doors and then meander around while waiting for diagnosis and treatment. The PlayStation 4 takes this in its stride.
The Nintendo Switch also puts in a respectable effort, but you can tell its mobile hardware is struggling a bit. It’s still very playable, and it’s not exactly a game where quick reactions are required anyway, but it’s definitely not locked at 30fps in either handheld or docked play. At best the game is close to 30fps, stuttering a little with dips of 1-2fps, but as your hospitals get busier this slide to the mid-20s, and scrolling around a busy hospital and interacting with things will cause momentary hitches. It can be exacerbated by increasing the simulation speed, suggesting it’s the CPU that’s struggling more than the GPU, but again, it remains very playable and you’ll probably want to pause the game to fine tune how your hospital is running or when building new facilities.
The other problem with the Switch is that the interface in handheld play becomes rather small. It’s not too bad on the regular Nintendo Switch – you might just hold the console a touch closer to your face – but on the Switch Lite, it really starts to feel tiny. Just like the frame rate, it’s not like it makes the game unplayable, but for Switch Lite in particular it would be nice to have some way to adjust the interface size.