There’s a point in Two Point Hospital (TPH hereafter), when you stop thinking about progressing and start thinking about efficiency; and that for me was when this game clicked. If i’m honest, moving through the ‘story’ such as it is and progressing from one hospital to another wasn’t actually that enjoyable. Sure the mechanics work, and it’s a nice looking game, but I felt like it was missing something and I was struggling to come back to it (bit of a problem for a reviewer!).
It was when I came back to the game after a brief pause that my thinking shifted. I was trying to achieve one of the little bonus missions you get- where you have an epidemic to treat and a limited time to do so. There’s pass/fail criteria (# people treated etc) and it can be genuinely difficult to get some of them. So it forced me to think about not just what looked good, but how efficient my hospital was and then suddenly, I was having a whale of a time.
Finding the optimum layout of rooms (don’t fall into the trap of making them bigger than they need to be) and ensuring that each treatment room is close enough and has enough capacity to deal with the demand is actually quite challenging and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Let’s back up a little though. TPH is a game from Two Point Studio’s which puts you in the position of managing a fictional hospital that deals with an array of slightly punny, and often unique diseases. You do this all while managing staff, space and the build of your hospital. It’s an almost like-for-like remake of Theme Hospital from back in THE day.
TPH has a nice cartoony style and everything is clear and easy to identify/understand. In fact I think Two Point Studio’s deserve a little extra credit here. The interface is great, everything is intuitive and clear and you understand what is going on at all times from a simple glance. A LOT of work will have gone into this, so much so that you barely notice the interface at all. You just use it, and that is the hallmark of great design.
The diseases are all, if not funny, clever and exhibit a nice degree of imagination. The Freddie Mercury themed psychological disorder in particular is a treat and made me smile. The game itself is basically a building game. You drag your rooms out (depending on what you need) and then add the equipment, furnishings etc before assigning the relevant staff to it. You’re able to have doctors, nurses and non-technical staff on the payroll (think janitors and receptionists) and each come with their own set of skills, abilities and needs. You’ll soon be juggling pay rises, promotions and wages before you know it. It’s not incredibly in-depth, but given the other balls you’ll be juggling it’s just enough to add another level of challenge.
Each hospital you are in charge of has a set ‘victory’ condition you’ll need to achieve before you can progress, but if i’m honest none of them are particularly challenging or rewarding. Instead the challenge and for me and the replay-ability, comes from perfecting each hospital and going for the stretch goals that add extra levels of challenge onto the game.
There are cosmetics and furnishings to unlock, using in-game currency (though annoyingly it’s separate to your actual money that’s used to buy rooms and staff etc) and you can come back to hospitals you’ve run in the past with new technology and upgrades in an attempt to make them even more efficient. This is where I spent most of my time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
At its heart its a slightly goofy management sim, with just enough depth to keep you interested. It’s the fine tuning and the ability to trash everything and start again that allows you to experiment, to get better layouts and more efficient treatment centres that’ll keep you coming back. It doesn’t hurt too that you get leader boards of your friends and how they’ve done in their hospitals as an incentive to keep tinkering… it worked on me.
Overall, if you like management sims, or if you’re old enough to have played the original Theme Hospital, I can thoroughly recommend TPH; it’s a well-made, well designed and well-thought-out homage to the original, brilliant game. And that is no bad thing.
The Verdict – On Target
Platforms Available – PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Platform Reviewed – PC
Review based on Steam media account copy. For more on our scoring policy, please head here.