I do not like business management sims. I repeat, I do not like business management sims. And I can’t pinpoint if it is the depth of the gameplay, or often overwhelming amount of options on Steam that rattles me. But for some reason, developer Two Point Studios hospital themed game — Two Point Hospital — diagnosed and scratched an itch I never knew I had. All doctor puns aside, this spiritual sequel to the iconic Theme Hospital is ready to stand toe-to-toe with hundreds of games that now occupy the same genre space.
However, let’s roll this gurney back — aren’t there a ton of games that have attempted to capture Theme Hospital‘s iconic flair, whether we are talking Hospital Tycoon or the newly-revealed Project Hospital from Oxymoron Games. With that said, Two Point Hospital is the only version that can carry the spiritual successor mantle, given that Mark Webley and Gary Carr — the creators of Theme Hospital — hold lead roles with the project. Even better, the game from the start is looking to improve the legacy from the ground up (an opinion that DualShockers covered while at E3).
And while all of that sounded well and good in an off-screen demo, DualShockers finally got to go hands-on with Two Point Hospital this week — and you can catch the first 20 minutes in the video above. Of course, this was only a fraction of the time we spent with the game, and did it ever go by quickly. Apparently, this is a trope of business management simulations; intense micromanagement, quirky designs, and snappy gameplay can melt away hours into what feels like minutes. And this is doubly true with Two Point Hospital.
Players will start off with a quick and intuitive tutorial that gives you the primary landscape of features. Obviously you need to stock your beginner’s hospital with the typical hospital flair. Do you have a reception’s desk? Check. Do you have a receptionist for that desk? Check. What about a general practitioner’s office, or a pharmacy? Check, check. Do you have a resident ghostbuster to capture any dead spirits that may haunt your hallways? Uh… I didn’t, but now I do.
Soon enough I was flying out the gate, micromanaging staff break times, salary increases, rotating interns with differing skill levels, and keeping the lightbulb heads (patients suffering from “lightheadedness”) contained and occupied. The ramp in difficulty rarely felt like a burden, despite how deep the game can sometimes get in the weeds. Specifically, you will continuously be on the prowl for improving decor, keeping staff and patients entertained, monitoring which of the machines are dangerously close to disrepair, etc.
The game isn’t hinging on core sim mechanics alone — you can expect the game to be a bit more in line with Tropico‘s humor than the lack of it in Anno. And that levity fits well with Two Points Hospital. In my three hours playing the game, I couldn’t help but laugh at the shock jockey radio hosts, the awful pun-related diseases, and even the Wallace and Gromet inspired artstyle that accentuates every aspect of the game. It all managed to check all those boxes in what I’m looking for in this game.
In the first few hours, the primary gameplay motivator was to work your way through missions (e.g., build two GP offices, cure 25 people, etc.) to progress your hospital rank and even earn an allusive star to signify quality. As you build up the hospital, tasks become harder and demand grows with the reputation. While a pharmacy, GP office, and receptionist may be enough to keep you up and running for the first 20 minutes, I already need to triple that and add a hospital ward with ten beds only an hour in.
There is a particular brand of gamer who business management sims will never appeal to — I thought I was one of them. However, if you want to see some of the pioneers of the genre back in action and busting with polish, Two Point Hospital is an excellent place to start regardless of skill level. And I can’t wait to jump back in when the game releases to see what late-game holds.
Two Point Hospital is currently in development for PC and expected to arrive on August 30, 2018.