A healthy revival of the business management game with surprising depth.
Getting into Two Point Hospital is sort of like meeting someone really charming and funny, then after a while, being pleasantly surprised to find they’re also really smart. The readable, disarming art style and chuckle-worthy fictional diseases that make patients think they’re Freddie Mercury or simply turn into a clown complement a layer of deep, strategic problem-solving.
Each of the 15 hospitals you’re asked to manage across Two Point County offers its own unique objectives and challenges, lending a welcome variety to the routine of diagnosing and curing patients to increase reputation and turn a profit. The layout of a facility has a large impact on the problem-solving, as it’s crucial to fit in diagnostic facilities, wards for long-term care, employee amenities, and specialists required to treat some of the wackier and more severe ailments. And there needs to be enough space left over for patients and staff to navigate between these hotspots. It’s a system that requires plenty of planning and rewards clever use of space.
The best solution is rarely to build the most clinically efficient, lifeless cure factory.
The best solution is rarely to build the most clinically efficient, lifeless cure factory. Patients and staff will have a better time in an environment with plenty of plants, artwork, food and drink options, and ways to pass the time like televisions and magazine stands. Beyond providing comfort, each room in your building carries a prestige rating based on the decorations and miscellaneous other extras you add to it. The best doctors aren’t going to apply to come work in an office that looks like a prison cell with a desk, so making sure everything looks nice is key to improving your roster of medical professionals.
And the layer cake just builds from there. Hiring and training staff with an eye toward how their proficiencies and personality traits will affect their job performance is another ongoing challenge. It builds up the personality of your staff and adds relatable – though sometimes absurd – human drama to the mix. You may end up with a Gregory House who is a superstar at diagnosing tricky illnesses but doesn’t get along with his coworkers and has no bedside manner to speak of. Is he worth hiring over a general practitioner with a heart of gold who doesn’t know the measles from the common cold? There’s often no single right answer to these kinds of conundrums, which grants you some freedom in what you want to prioritize.
Staff training provides an ongoing way to keep improving the efficiency of a hospital. At first, I had to drop a lot of money bringing in outside consultants with high-level skills to train my staff. But once you have a good stable of practitioners built up, you can use the hot-shots to train the newbies. It’s even possible to have doctors on staff who primarily deal with training and only treat patients in a pinch, which further expands on the interesting considerations involved in perfecting a roster. Combined with progressively harder objectives to earn one to three stars on each hospital and periodic emergencies like epidemics or contagious outbreaks that require manually administering vaccinations by spotting and clicking on the afflicted, Two Point Hospital always felt like it left me with something tangible to work toward. And failing to do that tends to be a major issue in similar games.
Down With The Sickness
The parade of unwell patients streaming in also provides quite a bit of genuine amusement purely from the whimsical nature of their ailments. A poor soul with Animal Magnetism has to have an assortment of furry creatures sucked off of them in a slapstick procedure that doesn’t look too pleasant. Some will come in with a case of “Lightheadedness” – literally having a lightbulb for a head – requiring the offending appliance to be unscrewed and replaced with a new, 3D-printed human head. A lot of character and attention to detail went into the animations for the various treatments, and the huge list of illnesses led to me continually being surprised and entertained by whatever ridiculous epidemic I might have to tackle next.
I was a bit irritated at times by the fact that you can’t easily pick and choose which illnesses you want to specialize in treating, though. If someone is diagnosed with an illness your hospital doesn’t have the facilities to handle, you will be asked if you want to send them home or build a new treatment room. The trouble is that you’re asked this every single time the diagnosis comes up. I would have killed for some sort of option to toggle on that would automatically turn away patients with a condition I didn’t have the money or desire to build a facility for.
One level gives you only inexperienced applicants for all staff positions.
Each hospital’s unique set of concerns helps keep things from getting too stale. Some areas of the county require heating or air conditioning units to keep the temperature at a comfortable level, which made me rethink how I laid out rooms and corridors. One level, set at a university, gives you only inexperienced applicants for all staff positions, forcing you to make use of the training classroom and build up a teaching hospital. Some gimmicks work better than others, though. A scenario in which I had to manage a hospital run by the public health service sounded interesting at first, but the objectives I needed to complete to earn more funding from the county were sometimes cumbersome and nonsensical, like watering plants or unclogging a certain number of toilets.
Maybe the biggest reason I had such a good time with Two Point Hospital, though, was that it does such a good job of making you aware of potentially non-obvious problems and offering advice on how to fix them. If there’s some breakdown in the supply chain of admission, diagnosis, treatment, and discharge, large, readable icons help you pinpoint exactly where the bottleneck is. Pop-up hints continually remind you of things you may be neglecting, like staff training – though they could start to feel a bit spammy at times. The one place where this breaks down a bit is when a problem is caused by your layout. In one level, I had staff deeply unhappy because they had been holding their morning coffee for several weeks, and I was only able to discover through trial and error that the narrowness of my hallways was causing the AI to glitch out and lose the ability to find what I had intended to be a conveniently-accessible employee bathroom.