I knew Two Point Hospital was essentially the spiritual successor of Theme Hospital. I just didn’t expect it to basically be a modern-day Theme Hospital. That’s no bad thing, mind.
I’ve been interested in Two Point Hospital since it released on PC back in August 2018. I’ve held off playing though, waiting for the console release. After being delayed, it’s finally here, and so my last few days have been spent tirelessly curing patients, sometimes accidentally killing them, and watching in vain as my janitors fail time and again to empty the goddamn bins.
If you’re at all familiar with Bullfrog’s epic Theme Hospital from the 1990s, then Two Point Hospital needs no introduction. It is a remake of the classic in everything but name. From the placing of medical rooms, to the patient process, to hiring staff; it’s identical. Of course, a lot of modern flair has been added too, but this is very much what you’d expect a modern remake to be. Heck, even the receptionist sounds the same. (She’s not, though; apparently developer Two Point Studios tried to find the original voice actress, to no avail.)
The similarities are not at all surprising considering that a fair proportion of Two Point Studios’ staff are ex-Bullfrog. Principally, that includes founders Mark Webley and Gary Carr, producer/designer and lead artist of Theme Hospital respectively.
But, delightfully, even after 23 years, it’s a formula that still works – and, if possible, it’s even better than ever.
Two Point Hospital‘s career mode eases you in gently. Your first hospital is small, and the patients through your doors only have a small selection of ailments. Your bank balance is booming, and so meeting your first objectives is no problem. As you progress, moving from hospital to hospital, growing your healthcare empire, things get trickier. New illnesses are discovered, requiring specialist treatment rooms. You’ll need more staff to manage them, and your hospitals grow exponentially in size. My first hospital only needed one GP’s office; my current hospital has eight – and patients are still queuing by the fives and sixes outside each door.
Not only do patient needs become more complex as you progress, you’ll also have to deal with disasters of varying degrees. Your increasing array of medical tech will break down at the most inopportune of moments, requiring your mechanically-trained handypeople to fix them. Then there’s earthquakes, making a return from Theme Hospital, ready to send your hospital into complete chaos should it register high enough on the Richter scale. Having one machine break down is one thing, but when they all go kaput at once? Carnage.
Even at the toughest of times, though, Two Point Hospital keeps players in high spirits thanks to its brilliantly British sense of humour. The receptionist’s voice over the tannoy announces to patients not to feed the ghosts (oh yeah, there are ghosts), asks them to try not to die, and the line I seem to hear most in my own hospitals: “We are sorry for the litter you dropped on our floor”.
Then there’s the hilarious range of ailments that patients walk through the doors with. Jest Infection, that sees the patient turn into a clown. Light Headed, where their head is replaced with a lightbulb, that needs unscrewing and replacing with a regular head. There’s also Pandemic, where patients have pans stuck on their heads, and Cross Bones which is described as “skeletal rage, sometimes triggered by piracy”. Fans of Theme Hospital will miss the classics like Bloaty Head, Invisibility and The Squits – but it has been 20-something years. They’ve all been eradicated through vaccines and new illnesses have taken their place. Obviously.
Of course, there’s a financial and managerial angle to Two Point Hospital that forms the backbone of everything you do. Early in the game you hardly have to think twice about building new clinics and employing doctors and nurses galore to keep everything running ship-shape. Before long, though, your balance sheets won’t look so healthy if you don’t curb your spending. It’s a fine balancing act between running an excellent hospital and actually making money. Nobody wants to be constantly in the red, and figuring out how best to manage your finances is where the game’s difficulty begins to creep in.
Being a console port of a PC game, I was initially concerned about how its keyboard and mouse-only controls would carry over to a controller. I needn’t have worried; Two Point Hospital controls flawlessly and is rarely fiddly. Menus are easily accessed with a touch of a button, and even placing and decorating rooms is seamless. I’ve found it much more intuitive than the likes of, say, The Sims 4 on console, where build mode can be endlessly frustrating with a controller. Granted, the options here are much more limited, but it means it’s just as easy to build and edit as it would be with a keyboard and mouse.
Two Point Hospital on console is simply a delight. Anyone who has fond memories of playing Theme Hospital will find themselves right at home here. Packed with challenge, wonderful humour and a flawless control scheme, it’s very hard to find fault with anything Two Point Hospital has to offer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have patients to tend to – and will you please stop dying in the corridors?
Two Point Hospital is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. This review is based on the Xbox One version.
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