Going through my formative years in the '90s, I cut my teeth on titles like Theme Hospital and it's ilk. I remember pulling sickies to stay home and manage a hospital, and all of its intricacies on my dad's PC. Keeping a careful eye on the clock, so I could grab the frozen peas and stick them on top of the PC so dad wouldn't be able to feel the heat of a day's worth of playing when he got home from work. Because of this, I have very fond memories of management sims but regrettably haven't played any for the better part of a decade. For some time now, I've been feeling the urge to dip my toes back into the genre, and I couldn't have been more excited to check out Two Point Hospital. Would it continue the legacy laid down by its forebears or would it be yet another altogether forgettable sim that prayed too hard on gamers and their nostalgia? I'm thrilled to say, it lives up to my expectations in almost every single way and has had me glued to my Switch since release.
Originally released on PC in August 2018, Two Point Studios' Two Point Hospital was widely received as a worthy successor to Theme Hospital as it offered a wealth of in-depth management options, a wonderful slice of humour, and excellent visual design. With the game finally making its way to console, I was mainly intrigued to see how the controls would translate. Games like this are notoriously much easier to control with a mouse and keyboard. Still, somehow the studio has made the transition almost perfectly with smart use of menus and an informative and easy to read UI. While I would have loved to see some touch screen implementation for the Switch version, I didn't once find myself fighting the controls to manage my hospitals.
The premise is understandably simple. You're tasked with taking over one of the many hospitals on offer. Each new hospital introduces new mechanics and items, which does a great job of showing you the ropes before the metaphorical medical shite hits the fan, and hit the fan it will, frequently. The game does a wonderful job of giving you direct control over almost every aspect of your hospital, from staff wages, training and break times to the constant need to make sure you have the right room types to diagnose the many patients that come through your doors. I was genuinely shocked at just how many stats and options are presented to players. Those who enjoy micro-managing (we all know at least one), will be thrilled by the possibilities Two Point Hospital offers. Striking the right balance between providing excellent service and maintaining profits, while challenging, is an absolute joy. Staff will need to be kept happy, both by making the hospital a pleasurable place for them to work and ensuring you review their pay as their expertise increases. Despite having an initially overwhelming amount of options and graphs to keep track of, the game never feels unfair or convoluted. Everything is there for a reason and has an impact on the quality of your hospital and the care provided to your patients.
Those patients make up the heart of the game, with their unique range of amusing illnesses and ailments. From 'light-headed', which sees a patients head replaced with a giant light bulb that has to be unscrewed, and a new head 3D printed on the spot, to 'mock star', which has them strutting about as a faux Freddy Mercury requiring therapy to bring them back to reality. There's still a significant amount of illnesses with each requiring either specialized equipment, rooms or staff to treat. Ensuring your hospital has the right amenities for any sickness is imperative and will have you constantly juggling your finances and staff headcount to keep things moving as smoothly as possible. Most of the illnesses patients contract are funny, and thanks to some excellent animation and design, they're a joy to discover and treat.
Almost every decision is yours to make, from hiring expensive staff with the best skill-sets or less experienced staff that you can pay less and train as needed. It's up to you to layout almost all of the hospitals you'll manage in the campaign, with only a few exceptions. You're tasked with taking your Hospital and increasing its star rating by achieving specific goals. These can be anything from cure 100 patients, to earning three hundred thousand dollars. Staff will occasionally task you with optional objectives like creating a three-star staff room, which rewards you with Kudosh, an additional currency which can then be spent to unlock more items and equipment for your budding hospital. No matter how far you get through the numerous available hospitals, thanks to the frequent unlocks and new equipment, you can always go back to previous hospitals and improve them further. One thing I did miss was a proper sandbox mode that lets you create your own completely unique hospital and stick with it for the long run, but the developers are adding this at a later stage. As an added bonus, the console versions also include the two DLC packs in the shape of "Bigfoot" and "Pebberley Island", with both offering new ailments, items and hospitals. There's plenty of content to get through and some of the later hospitals and their new challenges will see you having to pull out all of the tricks you've so far learned to keep them running. From hiring janitors with ghost busting abilities to dealing with natural disasters, the game constantly throws new and entertaining scenarios your way.
As far as visuals and performance ego on the Switch, Two Point Hospital looks fantastic and runs smoothly for the most part. I did experience a bit of occasional slow-down during some of the more chaotic moments, but it not once took away from the pleasure I found in running my hospital, and its quirky staff. Characters have an undeniable Ardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit) look to them, and I found myself chuckling and smiling at some of the more over-the-top animations and sicknesses. The game looks great on the Switch and features everything seen in the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Resolution and overall detail are obviously a bit behind, but when playing in handheld, I never found it to be an issue. On-screen text may be a bit small for some, and it can at times be a challenge to track down and select an individual member of staff among the hustle and bustle. Again, the menus entirely alleviate this issue, as with the quick press of a few buttons you can highlight any staff member and be taken straight to them. Two Point Studios have done a phenomenal job of translating the game, and its controls to console.
I'm hard-pressed to think of a more entertaining and fully-featured management sim in recent years, and Two Point Hospital met and exceeded my lofty expectations in almost every area. From its amusing cast of characters and it's near-perfect gameplay, I sank hours upon hours of my time into the game and will likely continue to do so long after this review is published. While it would have been excellent to have a full sandbox mode from the get-go, the game's many hospitals do a great job of slowly training up on all of the systems at play. Two Point Studios has done a superb job of updating the old and bringing it to the modern gaming space. It could finally be time for the management sim resurgence I've been longing for, for the better part of two decades. If you were a fan of games like Theme Park and Theme Hospital, chances are you will have a wonderful time with Two Point Hospital. I cannot wait to see what the studio does next. Fingers crossed for Two Point Park....
+ Brilliant animation and style.
+ Great port to consoles.
+ Humour is on point.
+ Engaging gameplay.
+ Plenty of menus and stats for die-hard sim fans.
+ Just the right amount of challenge.
- Sometimes hard to keep track of everything in handheld.
- No sandbox mode yet.