Medical careers are highly rewarding, but they can also be stressful, tedious, and full of high-stakes choices. Two Point Hospital dramatically diminishes those stakes, because in this topsy-turvy world, patients contract diseases like Premature Mummification and seek treatment in cartoonishly large injection machines. Like real hospital work, managing this network of treatment centers is satisfying – but Two Point Hospital can’t do away with the tedium of routine.
Two Point Studios is composed of ex-Lionhead and Bullfrog developers who previously worked on franchises like Fable, Theme Park, and Populous. Over 20 years ago, its core team created the beloved management sim Theme Hospital, and now its creators are back for more hospital hijinx with a long-awaited spiritual successor that matches the goofy tone and deep management layers of the original.
Playing Theme Hospital isn’t a prerequisite for Two Point Hospital. The opening hours do a nice job easing in new players. You manage every aspect of a hospital, including hiring (and firing) doctors, constructing new treatment wards, and ensuring that your patients remain at a comfortable temperature. Two Point Hospital features a variety of interlocking systems, but I never felt overwhelmed. The game does a great job notifying you about problems that deserve your attention, like when I needed to hire more janitors because my hospital was a garbage pit, or when my nurses felt underpaid and became disgruntled.
Your ultimate goal is to travel to every hospital in the county and improve their overall ratings. The easiest way to turn a death pit into a three-star hospital is by completing missions. Early on, these simple tasks ask players to cure a certain number of patients or build a specific facility. These goals get more interesting after you unlock marketing, training, and research facilities. At one point, I was tasked with curing 10 patients of lycanthropy, but patients with that disease weren’t checking into my hospital, so I ran a marketing campaign to attract new patients and researched a better treatment to improve my hospital’s reputation. After that, my beds filled quickly.
Two Point Hospital’s management layers are deep. You can micromanage your employees’ break times and pore over profit/loss spreadsheets. This level of detail feels like boring paperwork, but like most hospital records, they are a necessary evil. Two Point’s automated systems keep your hospital running, but if you want to max out your facility’s efficiency and earn a three-star rating, you need to scrutinize these stats. At one point, as I looked over my staff sheet, I discovered that one doctor was killing more patients than they were helping, so I quickly axed them and hired a more skilled surgeon.
I had more fun building new treatment wings and decking the halls with surreal paintings. My early hospitals all looked similar. As I progressed, I unlocked new medical equipment and currency used to purchase new decorations and novelty items. As I gained a wider range of decor, I felt a greater ownership over my hospitals. The simple click-and-drag interface also allows you to move entire rooms around within a building (even after they’ve been constructed), so mistakes are easy to paper over, and massive remodeling projects are a snap. Even late in the game, I was tinkering with the layout of each ward. I enjoyed designing each GP’s office around a specific theme, and my patients were pretty happy when I added a mini-arcade to the waiting room.
While I loved playing interior decorator, I quickly grew tired of doing it over and over again. Each time you move to a new location in Two Point County, you have to rebuild your hospital again from the ground up. Late in the game, it can take an hour or more just to get your hospital to a point where it meets all the basic functions. Since the game has over a dozen hospitals, you spend a lot of time reliving the basics. This slog is necessary to unlock new treatment rooms and tools, so I always felt the pressure to move on to a new hospital and start from scratch.
Two Point Studio has done a remarkable job reviving Theme Hospital and repackaging its concept for a modern audience. I loved Two Point’s distinct charm and the thrill of researching treatments for absurd diseases. But the tiresome grind eventually wears down even the best parts of the experience. Like an actual hospital visit, I’m glad I went, but I’m not particularly excited to return.