The ‘90s brought us some of the best tycoon and business simulation games around, from memorable classics like Sim City 2000, to the first Harvest Moon game. Among these greats, was a take on managing life (and death) in a quirky, humorous hospital setting with a game from Bullfrog Studios entitled Theme Hospital. The game received great marks and was adored by its fans at the time. A solid several two decades plus later, the spiritual successor has launched with the game Two Point Hospital on the Nintendo Switch from developer Two Point Studios. Will fans of the original find complete goofy hospital management satisfaction again? Or will they be scrambling to disinfect their hands of this game? Let’s go make a hospital and find out!
Two Point Hospital is all about running the most efficient hospitals in all the land, and helping those interesting patients and all their illnesses that have run amuck. Like most sim-building games, you’ll start off with an empty hospital, with no staff, but thanks to a witty and accessible tutorial, you’ll be employing your first doctor, nurse, and support staff in no time, along with a General Practitioner’s Office, and Pharmacy room with some of the easiest console building controls I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
Onboarding in the game comes at a great pace and progressive difficulty ramp. The first several hospital locations teach more advanced management techniques and features as you progress. This means that while your first hospital is quite basic with only a few illnesses that you’ll encounter and treat, by your third hospital location, you’re most certainly curing nearly a dozen illnesses, have expanded to multiple buildings, and are employing a whole host of staff to keep up with the hustle and bustle in an attempt to not let those wonderful people perish in the middle of your waiting room.
For newcomers to the game, and old fans alike, what sets Two Point Hospital apart as a sim-management game is that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. While many sim games do their best to replicate their real-world counterparts, Two Point Hospitalprides itself on the quirkiest of fictional illnesses. “Lightheadedness” for example, shows patients entering your hospital with a glowing light bulb for a head. Curing that illness means having your patient enter a rather involved contraption that unscrews their light bulb and replaces it with their normal head again. There’s no shortage of mental illness abound here either, requiring Therapy rooms and trained staff as you’ll encounter patients that need help ridding themselves of “Freudian Lips”, or the “Mock Star” illness in which patients believe they are effectively famous rock stars.
It’s absolutely this humor that carries the game both in dialog, but also in visual style as well. With cartoon stylized graphics, and characters that look like they were plucked from Wallace and Gromit, it’s a game that’s easy on the eyes in every manner. The treat of course being when you build new machines to cure specific illnesses, and then watching their animations play out at an attempt to cure your patients. It’s wacky, fun, and makes for a very lively hospital.
Each new hospital “level” you enter will have milestone goals that, when completed, gain you a star. A hospital can become a maximum 3-star hospital if you complete each tier’s challenges and goals. The first few hospitals were very achievable. As I progressed further it became rather apparent I needed to invest and optimize my rooms and continue to staff them with competent workers to obtain a higher star rating.
Progressing to later hospitals also reveals how incredibly deep on the management side of the game it can really be. While all of the mechanics are generally available from the start, earlier hospitals don’t require you to focus on them as much while you’re taught the more introductory elements. However, you’ll soon be micro-managing staff breaks, their moods, their traits, and teaching them new skillsets to better your workplace. There’s also management of the rooms you build as well, with attention to leveling up your rooms by decorating them, and ensuring your maintenance staff keeps all of your equipment running tip-top. As many data points as there are though, if you leave the game’s notifications enabled, you’ll always have a helping hand in the form of text boxes that periodically appear if the game feels you should be addressing a problem or something urgent comes up. This was a welcome feature for me in ensuring I wasn’t completely being oblivious to any major element in my larger hospital settings.
During your time at any given hospital crisis or urgent patient transfers will occur, forcing you to react swiftly and with the right staff to handle an influx in patients needing some care for a specific illness. These are effectively on-the-fly challenges and if you are successful in meeting the conditions of the challenge, you’ll be rewarded in XP, cash, and the game’s more premium currency “Kudosh”.
This premium reward in the form of Kudosh turned out to be a real core incentive for me to accept and complete challenges, and to get a 3-star hospital, among chasing the larger career goals as well. Kudosh don’t come in an abundance of supply, but how you spend them can often be a difficult choice I quickly learned. Two Point Hospital offers a plethora of customization routes to make all of your hospitals a little more unique to your own taste. You’ll be able to swap floor styles, wall styles and more for your rooms, as well as re-dress your staff in a variety of colors of clothing. All of these custom purchases can only be done with Kudosh though, and not all of the prices are on the low side, meaning you’ll have to make some meaningful choices should you choose to spruce things up in a different color palette.
Furthermore, and even more importantly are item purchases. While some new items that can be placed in your hospital are oftentimes granted for challenges or completion of a star rating, the majority of your hospital’s upgrades will come from purchasing them via Kudosh as well. Do you want to replace your stiff waiting area bench with a cushy couch, and some vending machines to allow more comfort to your patients? That’s going to cost you some decent Kudosh, but in return will increase the value of your hospital and alleviate some customer stress at the same time. Loads of items offer positive attributes with a handful having some inadvertent consequences as well, but these items are what most certainly create the most proper hospital setting you can think up.
There are a lot of fun nuances you’ll uncover as you dive deeper into the title. I won’t spoil how death is handled too much in your hospital, but it’s some serious…ghost busting. As the hospital areas expand, you’ll be frequently navigating around and checking on all of your info panes as much as possible to ensure everything is running like clockwork. Since Two Point Hospitaloriginally debuted on the PC side, the game had to go through an overhaul to make it ready for consoles and the Nintendo Switch. I’m happy to say that this conversion has come out on top and runs as seamlessly as one might hope. My only slight grievance is that navigating through some of the sub-menus can be a bit confusing, and in particular how to get to them, but for the most part it’s efficient enough, with special care to having button presses for the most used actions and menu prompts where the game requires.
Running a hospital couldn’t be more fun than with Two Point Hospital, with the added bonus of not contracting a pandemic disease of some sort in the process. Fans of Theme Hospital should have a welcomed successor, and newcomers to the game will have a great time getting to know the quirky, ill patients that’ll be passing through their hospital doors in no time! One can only hope we may see Two Point Studios take on revitalizing more of the “Theme” games into this generation!
Two Point Hospital Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8.5/108.5/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Two Point Hospital takes on the business management sim as humorously as possible and comes out on top of the genre. Although a revitalization of a classic title from the ‘90s, this new game builds a well balanced and surprisingly deep sim without ever creating a frustrating experience. It’s easy to play on the Nintendo Switch, and hours will quickly slip by as you treat patients for silly illnesses, customize your hospital, and expand your services to maximize those sweet profits! While I generally avoid hospitals like the plague, I’m happy to make an exception for Two Point Hospital.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.