Two Point Hospital Review: More of the Same Is Good
There are few games that have made me come back as often as Theme Hospital has over the years. Maybe it's the quirky treatments, the loose management style, or the snarky receptionist on the intercom. I've never been able to figure it out. I just know I've played Theme Hospital all the way through seven or eight times.
The announcement of Two Point Hospital and the ex-Bullfrog staff behind it had me excited but pensive. There are a lot of modern remakes, ports, and spiritual successors that just fall flat for me. Two Point Hospital isn't one of them.
In a market where spiritual successors and remakes decide to change up the original game's formula in some major way, Two Point Hospital doesn't do that. In fact, it is so similar to the game it's derivative of that my husband just calls it Theme Hospital 2. It's certainly close enough.
More of the same isn't a bad thing
Building and managing the hospital is done in very much the same way as its spiritual predecessor.
Working up and building the hospitals you're tasked with managing is straightforward. You need diagnostic rooms to determine what's wrong with patients and treatment rooms to deal with specific ailments. If planned and staffed properly, patients should be able to make their way through your hospital and get the right treatment. If you've planned poorly, don't worry -- the game is easy enough that small mistakes don't mean a closed hospital.
You spend most of your time building new rooms to deal with patients and trying to figure out why some are storming out unhappy or dying in the hospital corridors. Sometimes just plopping down some well-placed vending machines will do the trick to keep patients happy, sometimes it takes some hospital re-planning. Fortunately, this rarely leads to a loss.
Running a successful hospital often just comes down to fulfilling the star requirements. There are 15 hospitals to work with, and for each one, you can manage it up to one, two, or three stars. A one-star rating lets you move onto the next one, with the other two stars being for fun.
With the above in mind, I'm not even sure it's possible to fail at managing a hospital. I've made one very poor hospital on purpose and it's somehow chugging along. It's a bit like there are no real repercussions for poor planning, aside from a lack of cash flow. Who cares about that, really.
While the game is all very similar to the original Theme Hospital, the biggest changes lie in additional decorative items, the ability to assign employees specific jobs (so doctors trained as GPs will just sit around in GP's offices, as they should), and the new skill system.
While you could train doctors up in Theme Hospital, in Two Point Hospital, every employee -- from janitor to doctor -- is able to learn a number of skills to add to and improve their capabilities. This ties back into the whole GP thing, which is likely most players' biggest source of frustration: patients having to check back in with a GP after every diagnostic step. If you have low-skill doctors, they are going to be slow and inaccurate in a GP's office.
Training your staff is one factor in the whole equation that got a serious bump from 1998 to now. You had to train your doctors in surgery and psychiatry back in the day just so they were useful, but now you have to do it so your patients don't get stuck in endless queues until they die or leave.
Emergencies and epidemics have also made their way into Two Point Hospital, with epidemics coming into play later in the game. Emergencies require you have the rooms and staff to handle a quick burst of patients with a specific ailment, while epidemics must be hunted down and snuffed out via vaccines before afflicted patients leave the hospital.
Epidemics are probably the most difficult part of the game aside from wrestling with GP queues.
Patients and staff will show symptoms of a rare contagious disease and you must play at standard pace and look for people acting strangely. This gets complicated by staff also being afflicted -- I mean, it's not like your GPs and psychiatrists are moving around all that much. Sometimes it's best to just vaccinate them to be safe.
20 years waiting
There could be no better continuation of the spirit of Theme Hospital than what's found in Two Point Hospital. If you played the original and simply want more, you can find it here. If you never played it but want a simple but engaging management sim, you can find it here. If you're looking for your soulmate, you.. might be able to find it here? Nah.
The only thing that could knock Theme Hospital out of my top 10 games was another one, and Two Point Hospital is just that. This is the way I want to see older series come back: with the same bag of tricks in a fancy new binding.
For me, Two Point Hospital marks the end of a personal gaming era. It's something I've wanted for nearly 20 years, it's something I've whined about for ages. Suddenly that's over -- suddenly there is a new Theme Hospital, and it's even better than the original game, all without taking a million liberties to fit the new market.
You won't find particularly challenging gameplay here -- it's not a hard game. You will find an absolutely addictive hospital sim in a perfectly charming wrapping that won't be so easily removed by a Plaster Caster.
Two Point Hospital is the game I wanted more than any other and it's also the one that satisfied every want I could have had for it -- well, almost. The game could certainly do with a sandbox mode and maybe a higher difficulty mode, but I didn't expect those. They would be nice, but they're not necessary.
As it stands, this is a fantastic entry to a genre that pretty much just contains this game and its spiritual predecessor. Everything from the ailments and building to the radio hosts (!!) and annoyed receptionist voice comes together to make Two Point the definitive hospital sim in both fun and overall content. What a time to be alive!
[Note: The developer provided the copy of Two Point Hospital used in this review.]