I have fond memories of playing Theme Hospital on the PS1 as a kid. The Bullfrog simulation classic was a fun, whacky take on private hospitals, filled with nonsense such as Invisibility illnesses, popping and re-inflating heads in clinics, and most unbelievably, Kit-Kat brand vending machines…for drinks. So when I discovered Two Point Studio’s first offering, Two Point Hospital, was a new entry in the mostly dormant hospital simulation genre, I was pretty chuffed.
And the game, published by Sega and released on August for the PC and Mac, can – for better or worse – very much be described as a remake of Theme Hospital. Hm.
The game features exactly the same tone of goofy, cheesy, British humour Theme Hospital is known for – You’ll face silly illnesses such as Light Headed (Where one’s head is literally a lightbulb), Pandemic (A pan stuck on one’s head), and Mock Star (Where one mistakenly believes they are a music icon that looks suspiciously like Freddy Mercury). The receptionist (Regardless of the receptionist’s actual gender) will make snippy announcements over the PA. Places have dumb names like Hogsport and Lower Bullocks.
But that’s not to say Two Point Hospital doesn’t have its own things going for it. For example, instead of a tedious board game, the world map is large, open, and covers a variety of climates to help change things up (Temperature management via radiators and air conditioners are a must in some places). This world map is also accessible at any time, allowing players to return to and resume hospitals at any point. This is great, as you can return to a hospital and fill it out with unlocked goodies and discovered clinics. The environments outside the hospital are larger and more fleshed out, too, making you feel like your hospital is actually a part of a city or township – Every map feels unique due to its scenery and hospital layouts.
That integration somewhat works against the game in some ways, though – in order to expand your hospital, you can buy plots of land, and most have parks, parking lots, houses… It can be a bit discouraging to sort of consume half the town to better cater to it, to be honest. The fact that the game also uses pre-determined hospital buildings is also unfortunate – One must construct their clinic rooms in the set amount of building space.
You can definitely fill them up though. Two Point Hospital has a total of 33 different rooms available to construct, covering diagnosis and treatment to amenities and staff facilities. Each have a variety of unique items, and can be filled with several common decor items, too – From plants to paintings to hand sanitisers and filing cabinets. Many of these items have actual function besides decoration; some will increase the prestige of a room, others will help keep up the hospital’s hygiene, or entertain staff and guests. One can really decorate rooms and corridors quite well, making the spaces feel more authentic and lived in. And as one completes a level’s challenges, they’ll earn a currency called ‘Kudosh’ to unlock items with – When I first saw this, I was concerned about microtransactions, but thankfully this game has absolutely none. The unlocking mechanic does give incentive to keep playing the title, though.
Every room needs a staff member to function, though – Either a Doctor, a Nurse, a Janitor, or Assistant. These people can be of any gender or ethnicity, and all with very British names that are silly to one degree or another. Each staff member comes with a variety of traits, reflecting their work abilities and personality – A nurse, for example, might have the Stamina Training and Ward Management abilities, meaning she can work longer and is good at managing wards in particular, and might have the Cheap personality trait, meaning that she doesn’t have very high salary expectations. Whilst personality traits are static, abilities can be passed on to others via teaching in the Training room: A staff member can have up to five abilities, allowing for useful combinations to ensure that more areas of your hospital are effectively covered when staff go to take breaks.
Staff, patients, and visitors all have several needs: Happiness, Energy, Thirst, Hunger, Need Toilet, Hygiene, and Hospital Attractiveness. The better these are filled, the more effective your staff will be, and the more positive visitors and patients will be about your hospital (Helping its general rating and popularity). A variety of items can help satisfy multiple needs at once, thankfully – An Energy Drink machine, for example, will make people happier and relieve thirst, and a hand sanitiser allows them to up their hygiene and makes the hospital more attractive, too. It’s not hard to manage people’s needs as a result. Staff will also slowly level up over time, increasing their efficiency… But they may ask for a raise in turn.
You have access to lists from the lower-left of the screen, which show every staff member, patient/visitor, as well as your financial details. You can take out loans (With monthly interest), adjust the prices your patients pay for treatment (With patients refusing if prices are too high), adjust staff wages, and get an overview as to the financial performance of your hospital. You can also enable a visualisation of your hospital in terms of how areas are doing in terms of attractiveness, hygiene, maintenance and the like from the lower-left of the screen, too, with the lower-right allowing you to adjust game speed and give you a general overview of your performance in various areas.
One thing I wish we could access though is a ‘Skip Tutorial’ button. I understand that players must be introduced to new gameplay aspects and illnesses as one progresses, and applaud a well handled introduction to things, but this title is very needlessly specific. Hogsport, Lower Bullocks, and Flottering could easily be one map and nothing would be lost; having a general idea of what to do from common sense and experience with Theme Hospital, I found this area very tedious to get through. Whilst there’s still tutorial elements even in later stages, the title does pick up after this area… But it must be noted how much of a slog it was. And considering the staying power of titles like these can be a bit dubious as is, it really doesn’t help.
The game has cute, 3D graphics, with an almost plasticine like aesthetic – Everything is a little round and blobby. Sound-wise, the game has nice sound direction that enhances the wackier aspects, and the PA announcements and radio commentator are amusing. The music of the game is nice, mostly ambient tracks trending towards the quirky and bouncy.
Option wise, Two Point Hospital has what it needs. There’s the usual video options (With the addition of Anisotropic texture options, as well as object draw distance and world detail), five volume sliders (Including one for the PA and DJ), button remapping, autosave options, and language options.
There’s also a semi-online aspect, as you can compare your career to other Two Point Hospital players on your friends list. Nice if you care about that I suppose. Additionally, the game’s launch trailer may be found below.
+ Good integration of hospital into the towns/cities
+ Wide variety of items and rooms to construct
– Slog of a Tutorial
– Bit weak on staying power