It is that time again, to think on yesteryear when we were but children of the 90’s playing games that featured pixel graphics or miniature characters. Among those games was a beautiful gem, covered in disease and death, Theme Hospital. Making its own mark in the “Theme” games, from parks to Tycoons, Theme Hospital was comedic, difficult and darn addictive. Following in-suit of similar companies, Two Point Studios has designed to bring back an old classic, with the spiritual sequel to Theme Hospital, Two Point Hospital.
With two of the creators of the original, Mark Webley, the game’s producer, and Gary Carr, the lead artist, Two Point Hospital is as close as we’re going to get to a new Theme Hospital game. Thankfully it keeps the humour of the previous game, expanding on it with announcer voices, radio hosts and general silly text boxes. If you’ve played the original back in 1997 then this game may be right up your alley with a scalpel in its hand.
Containing more of a story than the original, Two Point Hospital has us starting a new health company of Two Point. We are tasked with opening up new hospitals to take care of the sick, bring in a good enough revenue alongside a great reputation to expand even further. Each hospital starts without a rank, with objectives given to us to increase to a 3-star ranking which completes that specific hospital. This is then repeated for 15 hospitals in total, for 45 stars to be awarded. As you progress you will be tasked with curing new illnesses, building new rooms or researching new cures.
Each hospital will take between 30 minutes and 3 hours to complete, depending on if you want those 3 stars or if you will move onto the next hospital as soon as it unlocks. Every level has its own focus, from curing lycanthropy, having the majority of patients needing psychiatry or teaching new doctors skills. Splitting up the tutorials and instructions in this manner really helps new players get to grips with the gameplay, instead of bombarding them with countless rooms and procedures.
Running a hospital is rather straightforward and is mostly done through the use of rooms and items. You can place down a Receptionist desk or build a Reception room, to allow patients to be told where to go within your hospital. A GP’s Office is used to diagnose most patients with what is currently ailing them, where a Pharmacy will cure normal diseases. A General Diagnosis will diagnose anything a GP cannot, with Cardiology doing a similar effect. Wards are for housing long-term patients, Psychiatry to heal patient’s minds and more. Each hospital will unlock between 1 and 4 new rooms to test out.
Building rooms, hiring staff and paying for any items will all take money from your bank. It will be a juggling affair for you to make sure the income you gain, from patients buying food or being cured, is enough to make it so you don’t go into the red. If you are getting low, you can take out loans, reduce pay to staff or increase the cost of your services. Money doesn’t really become too much of an issue until you are around 5 missions into the game, where you will need bigger building and more staff to take care of the number of new patients.
As you get further into the game you will also need to research new rooms, assigning a doctor to the research room and selecting something to research. After the lengthy process is complete you can build the new room, or upgrade an existing one’s machines with a janitor. You will also be able to train staff once they reach a new promotion in the training room, giving a bonus to their work in a specified room or a general bonus to all of their tasks.
The music in Two Point Hospital is top notch, both fitting the comedic style of the game as well as the graphical style. Tracks are cycled through as you play, with intermissions by a radio DJ who is constantly throwing out jokes, revealing information about the surrounding area and being a general charmer. I found myself laughing or snickering at plenty of his lines which help to break up some of the monotony of the game. Sadly, the amount of tracks is a bit slim, with only around 5 songs that are cycled through. I really wish we had more songs on offer that follow the quality of the already existing tracks in-game.
If the comedic lines of the DJ weren’t enough, there is also a somewhat dull-toned lady over the intercom of the hospital. She will call for nurses to go to rooms that require them, give alerts as well as comedic lines like “Bins will become full” or “If you’re an outpatient get out”. The combination of DJ and announcer is done amazingly well, creating an immersive experience that is also comedic and cartoony.
Following the house style of the game, Two Point Hospital takes on a somewhat clay style for their characters and world. With round faces, blocky colours and general happy poses, the characters feel right at home in this world. It isn’t hyper-realistic, nor is it top quality, but the style more than makes up for the lack of graphical quality. This doesn’t translate into some of the terrain textures, however, as some are stretched or lack effort, though these can be overlooked as you don’t really pay attention to the outside that often.
In both a comedic approach and contextual show of information, certain illnesses are actually shown on the models of the characters. Light-headedness will cause people to have light bulbs for heads, people will dress as rock stars if they need psychiatric help, Grey Anatomy people will be in all grayscale and more. These design choices are both funny, but also allow players to understand what a patient has without needing to click on them. This continues on into their procedures, with light-headedness patients having their lightbulb heads taken off and replaced with normal ones.
While the game did run smoothly for most of my time with it, I did notice a few problems over my course at the hospital. Every so often a staff member or patient would get stuck in their pathfinding, merely to stand in 1 spot for all eternity. While I could pick up the staff, to sort out the patients I had to edit the room itself to force them outside. I also noticed 2 crashes through my time playing, with some others also experiencing some crashing issues. Hopefully, these issues will be fixed with later patches.
Overall, Two Point Hospital gets a 9/10, it is a fun modernisation of a past game from my childhood. It takes a comedic approach to the sim genre as you take control over a hospital full of patients with light bulbs for heads or dressed as Elvis. Award ceremonies, DJ hosts and announcers all add into a lovely show of attention to the game and its smaller parts. Starting a new hospital for each level can seem a bit repetitive at times, but with the addition of new rooms, it becomes less of a chore and more of an experience. Some glitches and bugs do hold back the game but are to be expected with so much going on at once. Fans of Theme Hospital should love this game, as well as those who are fans of simulation games.