Game Review | Two Point Hospital
Game summary: puts you in the role of a hospital administrator tasked with constructing and operating a hospital (and, by extension, an empire of hospitals in the fictional Two Point County, where the game is set) with the goal of curing patients of fictitious, comical ailments. (Wikipedia)
I was a huge fan of Theme Hospital back in the day, so was very much looking forward to Two Point Hospital coming out from the moment it was announced. I know this is splitting hairs, but I wasn’t so much disappointed, but this could have been so much better.
First off, the game does try and act the part of a spiritual sequel to Theme Hospital, but it’s weirdly inconsistent about it. The people in Two Point Hospital are cartoonish enough that they look like they could have come from a re-master of the older game, but the environment is strangely lacking in character and more realistic than you’d expect.
It does feel strange to criticise the visuals, when each part taken individually is of a very high quality, but the styles really don’t mesh at all. Either the building should’ve been made as stylised as the characters, or make the staff and patients more lifelike to fit their surroundings.
In contrast, the sound design works perfectly, with various effects all fitting with what is going on. The music is also pleasant enough to leave on in the background without distracting from the gameplay, although there are a couple of radio ‘personalities’ that do start to grate after a while.
Unfortunately, the inconsistency returns when talking about the gameplay. This is especially frustrating as Two Point Hospital is one of the slickest and best-designed games when it comes to letting players actually interacting with the world.
Whenever you build a new room, you don’t ever have to worry about forgetting anything crucial as the game will make you put down the basics before allowing you to ‘complete’ the room. If you want to customise the room further after the minimum requirements are met, that’s entirely on you.
Two Point Hospital also has a pretty decent adviser, or at least decent in comparison to a lot of other games that are either not helpful enough or appear far too often. If you have an issue somewhere in your hospital, the game will eventually bring it to your attention, and usually well in advance of it causing any issues with gameplay.
Another feature that helps with that is being able to pause time and still continue to develop your hospital, much like The Sims. If things do get a little overwhelming, or you forgot to put an optional extra item in when building a room, there’s no need to panic.
I think features like this will certainly help Two Point Hospital remain popular in the long-term, and with a fairly wide audience too. No matter how many plates you’re being asked to spin at any given time, you also have complete control to determine how fast those plates spin and how much stress you actually want to put up with.
Despite the really rather good level of player assistance that is actually helpful rather than pandering, Two Point Hospital does have a couple of pretty major flaws that detract from the otherwise enjoyable experience in the long run.
The first one is a common issue to smaller games: repetition. You’ll find yourself doing a lot of the same things over and over and over again, just in slightly differently-shaped buildings. In longer sessions of play, where you move from one hospital to another, this might leave a negative impression because you’ll probably get bored very quickly.
And the reason I used ‘smaller’ games above is that this really shouldn’t be something affecting a game with the scope of Two Point Hospital. Indie games that a single gimmick with gameplay revolving entirely around that one thing? While not exactly welcome, you’re at least going in knowing the game has limitations - and will probably be a lot cheaper too.
The second major problem I have with Two Point Hospital is something I’d consider more serious because it feels like a conscious design choice. And that choice was to add in objectives that leave the player with nothing to do.
You can ‘level up’ your hospital in various ways, the simplest of which is by adding more rooms, treating more people and hiring the best staff you can. Those things make sense and are entirely under the player’s control.
The problem really starts when it comes to some of the tasks you’re set to increase your hospital’s star rating. Most of what you’re asked to do is fine, usually relating to one of the above means of improving your hospital as listed above.
Unfortunately, there is another type of task that almost encourages non-interactivity; usually either curing a set number of people or building your bank balance up to a certain level. And these aren’t background tasks while you’re continually given other goals to reach in the meantime either.
It’s very easy to finish all the objectives listed bar this one last one, where the easiest – and most practical – thing to do is simply put the game on fast-forward and find something else to do for a few minutes. Genuinely, Two Point Hospital is a game that routinely makes the easiest path to progression come through not playing the game!
As far as curing a number of patients goes, you can just build more and more of the rooms needed, with the staff needed to work in them, but that just leads to a sense of repetition setting in even faster than normal and putting the game on fast-forward and leaving it alone is still the best option.
This isn’t me condemning Two Point Hospital as I do still enjoy playing it, but I’ve learned to restrict how long I play it for. I’ll always take a break of a day or two (or more) before starting a new hospital. And I just save and quit when given a second ‘waiting’ task in a single session of play. To enjoy this game as much as possible, I would advise adopting a similar approach.
Two Point Hospital is a good game that can be a lot of fun to play until you get to one of the many times the game will expect you to sit and wait around for a meter to fill up before you can progress any further; best to play this in short bursts rather than for any length periods of time.