Imagine being tasked with not only running a hospital, and not only a reliable one, and not only a profitable one, a clean one, a multifaceted one, a comfortable one, a well decorated one, a properly staffed one, a ghost free one, deep breath but also one where you are constantly under the scrutiny of some very saucy British colleagues. Sounds like an overwhelming chaos tornado doesn’t it? Or maybe the perfect storm depending on who you ask.
Well the fine folks over at Two Point Studios answered the call and took that whirlwind of a concept and bottled it up to create their spectacularly popular game Two Point Hospital. Never the type to shy away from a challenge, we decided it was high time we weathered the storm of hospital management for ourselves. So, hand in hand how do you think we fared? Let’s find out!
I have to admit this is not my first time playing Two Point Hospital, or even my second actually. I tried it when it first came out in late 2018 and rather enjoyed the bit I’d played, but since I was playing a few other things at the time I had to set it aside for later. I then came back to it maybe a year later with the intent of dedicating myself to it, but found myself quickly and swiftly discouraged by the ever increasing challenge. This game stressed me out hard, there was no denying it. So unfortunately, Two Point Hospital ended up set aside once more, possibly to never be touched again. That is until my dashing partner in crime, out of the blue, suggested we give it a try together as a side game we could easily pick up and play during our daytime breaks. And just like that our very stressful and very fun co-op adventure began.
When I sit back and reflect on the time I’ve spent with games like Two Point Hospital, for the most part I draw a blank. I mean, the whole micromanaging a virtual organization and having to balance efficiency with effectiveness, kind of stresses me out. That said, I do have fond memories of playing the spiritual grandfather of this game, Theme Hospital, when I was just a young buck.
Honestly, I always liked the idea of how quirky these games were, and that was the biggest draw, even if I wasn’t the greatest at them, and my interest easily fell off. So, diving into Two Point Hospital had me intrigued and I was excited to see what a modern take on Theme Hospital looked liked! Now, I’m not saying I wasn’t still hesitant, but playing it with Charleen definitely made easing myself into it that much smoother.
When I mentioned earlier that juggling tasks in games like Two Point Hospital usually makes my head swirl, and because of that I tend to avoid them, I wasn’t joking and this game pretty much reinforced that notion. With that in mind, the devs really did a great job of easing you into what’s expected of you, and I really liked that you’re given small goals to strive for as you progress in a level to distract you from the monotony of watching thousands of patients queue up to get a drink from your singular water fountain.
I also very much appreciated that you’re given lots of intuitive tools to help monitor and manage your hospital en masse. Things like hiring/promoting/training your staff, building new equipment, and keeping tabs on your general success metrics, are made easy and work surprisingly well on a controller. Of course, in a flash that can all go spiraling out of control, but at least you have the means to quell the chaos, even if it requires you sacrifice large swaths of your clientele while you train up your doctors.
I’ve played my fair share of sim games but Two Point Hospital reminds me mostly of games like Age of Empires or Sim City where you need to build everything up from scratch and micromanage a lot of the various aspects. The level of strategy required for a successful run in just about any of the levels took me by surprise for sure. Especially if you are attempting to get three stars. Some of those tasks added a whole other level of challenge. Like getting your hospital to have a five million dollar value overall, which took us the better part of a day to align the planets and pray to the video game gods that things didn’t backslide yet again for the fifth time after reaching $4,999,999. This game has a lot of moving parts to keep track of that can get away from you pretty quickly especially when you get levels where you can make massive hospitals. I think a common misconception when you say “this game is a sim/management type game” is that it will be easy and relaxing. Two Point Hospital breaks the mold in that sense with an explosion of devilishly demanding gameplay and perfectly executed British humor.
Overall I’d say it’s not the difficulty of Two Point Hospital that gave me pause, it was the rinse and repeat nature of it. While there were varying styles of level types, like task based, profit based, and so on, there weren’t enough differences between the types and each level ended up feeling too much the same after a while. We would easily overcome the main hurdles and end up struggling late in the level in the same ways every time. I’m sure there are strategies and tips abound out there for breezing through this game, but whatever they are we never seemed to catch on I guess and that’s a shame. In the upcoming sequel, Two Point Campus, I really hope some of that gameplay loop repetition is at least somewhat alleviated.
Two Point Hospital really is a well made game, where the devs went out of their way to make sure it was easy to pick up and play. What kept me coming back for more however, was just how silly it was. I loved the interjections from the radio host, and the off the wall commercials, as well as the outlandish and pun filled ailments you had to cure your patients from. Nonetheless, what ultimately tarnished it for me, was the unrelenting struggle each time we started a new hospital. That said, I’m not sure if it’s a problem with balance, or just my inability to vibe with the groove of this game, but it quickly went from fun and light, to overwhelming and discouraging. Even when taking into consideration the different types of stages and challenges the devs used to shake things up.
Despite the struggles, playing Two Point Hospital was an absolute blast together. It was fun to strategize together when either of us was getting in over our heads, and being able to pass the control when it became too much was a heaven sent. Plus, experiencing the crazy shenanigans, the goofy antics, and the frustrations of staff members not doing what the heck we told them to do together made it that much more enjoyable.
I fully maintain that the only reason we made it through this game was because we played it together. That’s not a knock against the game at all but more of a statement to our personalities. We are both perfectionists when it comes to the way we prefer to do things, especially in games like this. So chaotic gameplay can easily top out our stress meters and it was nice to be able to hand off the controller, as well as the dire situation we no doubt found ourselves in, whenever needed. Usually the person watching was twitching their fingers in eager anticipation as well to take control and implement their two cents worth. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it was a death knell, but we had fun nonetheless and that’s all that really matters right?
It wasn’t perfect, but things rarely are. I think while we both found fun and flaws with Two Point Hospital, we also both felt it was an experience worth having. And you can bet your bubble and squeak we’ll be back for Two Point Campus when it’s release day!