Even as video games have moved on towards everything Battle Royale, audiences are reminded of a time where simulation games such as Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper ruled the roost.
In some ways, these games have aged well and have found a new life over at GOG.com. However, they are ultimately old games played on modern computers but what the community yearns for is a successor to such titles. Dungeon Keeper has remade itself into a (pointless) mobile game (shudder), while Theme Hospital found itself chugging along with community mod, CorsixTH.
That is, until Two Point Hospital was announced.
Admittedly, it came as a little worrying due to the lack of fanfare even as the game approached launch day. Only a handful of sites actually previewed the game, and gameplay videos felt mostly bland. While creating a hospital sim is not mechanically hard, it seemed the charm with the spiritual successor was missing quite a bit of the magic. Folks who like Hospital Tycoon would understand.
The thing about Two Point Hospital is that it is unabashedly a solid clone of Theme Hospital, as even the first level of this game mirrors that of the original, but if it ain’t broken why fix it? That sums up Two Point Hospital in a nutshell.
Curing patients in the modern day is pretty much the same way how we did it with Theme Hospital as well. In Two Point Hospital, there’s no overly advanced mechanics to tackle. The aim of the game is to get patients diagnosed quickly and get them out of your hospital in double quick time. The challenge now, however, is the increase in patient demands. In the past, it was mostly about having patients cured but this time around we would need to settle their warmth, bowel, hunger, thirst, and entertainment levels.
Yes, the more metrics in play, the more patients one would have milling about the hospital for no better reason, apart from clogging up your treatment queues.
The staff in Two Point Hospital would also need to be increasingly well equipped in terms of training, as more and more patients stream in through the door. Later in the game, most players might find themselves creating specialists of all sorts, in order to ensure that the diagnosis process is fast, and cure rates are guaranteed successes. There’s quite a bit to take in but, thankfully, Two Point Hospital has a really gentle difficulty curve right from the start, before ramping it up rather quickly.
No longer would you need to manage your radiator monthly heat bill, but the demands of your staff and keeping them continually well paid and motivated will take over. One could always throw money at the problem, but Two Point Hospital throws really specific challenges at the player per level, and it becomes a tricky feat to juggle high cure rates while running a profitable hospital.
More often than not, it would seem that measured hospital expansion and creating efficient systems in the game would be the way to go, in tackling all the challenges thrown to your way.
While there no longer is a fax machine to make life easier, Two Point Hospital’s laser focus in urging players to complete level-specific objectives sometimes mean that some metrics of running a successful hospital go out the door.
In most cases, the playthrough plan was to max out the prices of all treatment options to 100%, to bring in enough revenue to fund operations. While your reputation might take a hit, it clearly does not matter considering that there is always a continual flow of patients coming through the door. The only true repercussion in the game is not having enough staff, as well as diagnosis and treatment rooms to tackle the horde of sickly folks.
A great bulk of Theme Hospital’s charm is the volume of quirky illnesses one is allowed to treat. Compared to the humour back in the day, this is where Two Point Hospital falters. If you’re a kid of the 80s/90s Peter Molyneux-led studio, Bullfrog, then their wicked sense of humour might have made quite an impact in your formative years, but it is sorely missing here. While it would appear that it becomes quite a challenge to top an illness like Bloaty Head and Jellyitis, Two Point Hospital’s patient list seems to be limited to pharmaceutical cases, which are hardly visually appealing when previously we had to cure patients with ailments such as Invisibility. This makes the hospital landscape look pretty bland unless you’re attracting a specific type of illness through the use of the marketing department.
Considering the game has already replicated most of Theme Hospital, the team could have gone one step further, to flatter its spiritual predecessor. One thing players will notice is the lack of audio effects when it comes to curing the more bespoke illnesses. As the game progresses, the anticipation to cure each new illness fell flat, as the developers didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of humour, either visually or via audio. It was simply a matter of a patient going through their paces in a machine, and coming out as a healthy individual.
The biggest deal breaker in Two Point Hospital has to be the pathing bugs that can be found. While these issues can be easily remedied with a patch, such errors actually create gameplay bottlenecks which affect how well your hospital performs. At the moment, the Ward and Fracture Ward are two major culprits which suffer greatly due to pathing issues. There are a variety of motions staff and patients have to go through, as they move into these rooms. Some manner of micromanagement is needed, to ensure patients are properly attended to.
Given that it has been over twenty years since the release of Theme Hospital, Two Point Hospital has, for the most part, done well in capturing the spirit of the original. It is certainly a worthy update for the modern era and should endear itself to fans of the original. Considering that games these days take on a more serious overtone, Two Point Hospital’s whimsical, goofy, and irreverent tone is a much-needed break from mainstream gaming, and it works.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Two Point Hospital has been able to successful scratch the itch that all Theme Hospital fans have been yearning for. Unlike certain titles in which nostalgia goggles have a tendency to skew one’s impression of a game more favourably, Two Point Hospital has been able to make a successful leap to the modern era of gaming.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 10/10
Geek Satisfaction - 10/10