When the treatment for a particularly nasty condition involves patients being sent into a ‘boning chamber’, you know you’re in for a good time. And the fact that this is featured in Galacticare tells you a fair bit about what this game is – an intergalactic riff on Theme Hospital and Two Point Hospital that has the same sense of pun-filled humour (just not usually quite so risqué).
Where most hospital management sims will have your doctors with their feet firmly on the ground, Galacticare shoots you up into outer space to tend to the ailments and needs of a wide variety of alien races.
This is where Galacticare really shines, with seven different species that all stand in stark contrast to one another, and each on having specific traits, such as preferring well-maintained rooms or being pretty sanguine about long queues. From giant insectoid Xill to small and furry Tenki, hand-walking Kouber Baly, and even beings that look like voids of stars, they’re all thoroughly distinct in terms of visuals.
Because of that, Brightrock Games describes the aliens as being more of a canvas onto which the different diseases are painted, with the vast majority of illnesses and maladies being intra-species. When you consider how different they are in terms of size and attributes, that’s not too far off having to do seven times the work for each condition, even (or especially) when that condition means that bones and brains are exposed to the outside world.
So that boning chamber, eh? What’s that really about? Well, it’s not going to see the game getting an R rating or having to break out pixellation effects, that’s for sure. It’s actually not smutty in the slightest (outside of the name), as patients step into the room to have their skeletal maladies cured by way of… a giant robot dog eating them and then completely replacing their skeletons before spitting them back out again.
It sounds so innocent when you put it like that, and especially when Brightrock decided not to put the stereotypical alien penchant for anal probing into the game.
As a management sim, the added layers of complexity to managing multiple species is balanced by some gameplay niceties. Sure, you can still end up with a hospital that leaves patients dissatisfied, but you can also optimise it all the more by employing doctors of a particular species to match what you’re able to provide in terms of facilities. You can also just use hologram doctors which don’t have stamina and needs, but with lesser performance.
You’ll also have room templates to help with quickly stamping out a batch of treatments, and there’s a light god game layer, thanks to having consumable items like the Stabilising Solution, Energy Drink and Repair Kit that you can quickly spend to resolve or stave off growing issues for your hospital.
Your hospital will always be floating in the void of space and never be set on an alien planet, and that gives plenty of spectacle to the levels and the unfolding of each one’s narrative. At the Burning Moon Festival, for example, the background music festival changes and evolves over time, and you’ll deal with meteor showers that hit your hospital and lead to an influx of burn victims. Another level has you trying to manage a regular hospital, and find a way to heal the living planet you’re orbiting.
Heading for release in early 2024, Galacticare is much more than just a few naughty puns and stereotypical grey aliens, with Brightrock putting a really creative twist on the hospital management sim. I can’t wait to see what other creative settings they’ve cooked up, delve into the distinct background and traits of each of the aliens, and (obviously) see the other wild and wacky ways that each illness is cured.