Two Point Hos­pi­tal

Two Point Hos­pi­tal is a bril­liant man­age­ment game, re­gard­less of nos­tal­gia.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Fraser Brown

Fred­die Mer­cury im­per­son­ators have com­pletely taken over the hos­pi­tal wait­ing area, the clown clinic has caught fire and all of my jan­i­tors are busy fight­ing the an­gry ghosts of de­ceased pa­tients. And of course all of this chaos kicks off right when the mayor de­cides to visit. It’s a pretty nor­mal day in Two Point Hos­pi­tal, where ridicu­lous dis­as­ters are con­stantly bub­bling be­neath the sur­face, but more of­ten ex­plod­ing all at once. Run­ning a hos­pi­tal is a messy busi­ness. Man­ag­ing the moods of petu­lant doc­tors, cur­ing a bizarre list of fic­ti­tious ill­nesses, clean­ing up poo, and lit­er­ally putting out fires—there’s lit­tle time to sit back and lis­ten to the ra­dio DJs driv­ing pa­tients to dis­trac­tion over the PA sys­tem. The up­beat mu­sic, silly dis­eases, and con­stant puns cre­ate a false sense of se­cu­rity, but un­der­neath its tongue-in-cheek ex­te­rior this is a dense, tricky man­age­ment game.

Amid the bar­rage of catas­tro­phes there’s one golden rule: Cure as many peo­ple as you can. To get the star rat­ings that will let you move onto the next mis­sion, you’ll need to com­plete ob­jec­tives rang­ing from mak­ing the hos­pi­tal look fetch­ing to find­ing a cure for be­ing a mime, but you won’t be able to do that if you don’t fo­cus on try­ing to keep ev­ery­one alive. Fail too many of the peo­ple re­ly­ing on you, and your rep­u­ta­tion will suf­fer, stop­ping you from get­ting qual­ity hos­pi­tal staff and pa­tients with fat bank ac­counts.

Ini­tially, the jug­gling of tasks is kept to a min­i­mum, be­cause there are only a few ail­ments that need your at­ten­tion. This is in com­par­i­son to the later mis­sions where you’ll have mas­sive hos­pi­tals, epi­demics, and more bad jokes mas­querad­ing as dis­eases than you’ll be able to han­dle with­out run­ning out of ex­ple­tives. Even when you can fo­cus on just a few prob­lems, things still tend to spi­ral.

Con­sider the ef­fort that goes into help­ing one pa­tient. When they ar­rive they need to know where to go, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a re­cep­tion and an as­sis­tant to work there. At this point, no­body knows what’s wrong with them, so off they go to get di­ag­nosed. A GP might be able to help with that, though it usu­ally re­quires more than one di­ag­no­sis, so you’ll be want­ing a gen­eral di­ag­no­sis room, a car­dio room, and even a ward, all of which have a chance to re­veal the sick­ness. That’s around five mem­bers of staff and ac­com­pa­ny­ing rooms, and that’s po­ten­tially be­fore treat­ment has even started.

While pa­tients are shuf­fling around the halls, they’ll also get thirsty, hun­gry, bored, and maybe even catch an­other ill­ness if the hos­pi­tal’s hy­giene is poor. That means vend­ing ma­chines and even­tu­ally a cafe will need to be pro­vided, along with toi­lets and en­ter­tain­ment, and more staff to main­tain them all. Your staff have sim­i­lar needs, on top of their de­sire for fi­nan­cial re­im­burse­ment, and will even­tu­ally start de­mand­ing a staff room.

War on Queues

Even with the foun­da­tions built, there’s no time to rest. Im­pres­sively, even af­ter around 15 mis­sions, I’ve yet to ex­pe­ri­ence a no­tice­able lull in the drama. I’ve never found my­self twid­dling my thumbs, be­cause there’s al­ways a co­nun­drum ready to smack me in the face. Great­est among them, my neme­sis you might say, is the dreaded queue.

As a hos­pi­tal’s rep­u­ta­tion in­creases, whether that’s be­cause of a good treat­ment record, a celebrity visit or an ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing cam­paign, more pa­tients will start to ap­pear, along with a whole host of weird and won­der­ful is­sues. While each treat­ment has a spe­cific room and de­vice as­so­ci­ated with it, ev­ery pa­tient still needs to go through the di­ag­no­sis process, po­ten­tially cre­at­ing a bot­tle­neck. I can’t count the times I’ve had a de-lux clinic wait­ing to be used, but all the pa­tients are stuck out­side the GP’s of­fice.

There’s one golden rule: Cure as many peo­ple as you can

A ca­coph­ony of sneezes en­gulfed my wait­ing area. I had clowns, disco dancers, and pix­e­lated peo­ple all get­ting their snot every­where. Ob­vi­ously they all had colds. If I hadn’t no­ticed that, I might have in­stead no­ticed the oc­ca­sional ici­cle icon ap­pear­ing above their heads. Just to be on the safe side, I clicked on a few, bring­ing up a chart with all their de­tails. These pa­tient charts show ev­ery­thing from who they have an ap­point­ment with to their thoughts and mood. It’s an in­dis­pens­able tool, and typ­i­cal of Two Point’s largely ex­cel­lent UI. It con­firmed they all had a cold.

The tem­per­a­ture over­lay re­vealed that the wait­ing area was ex­ceed­ingly chilly, and plonk­ing down a cou­ple of ra­di­a­tors brought the tem­per­a­ture back up to cosy lev­els. This was in­dica­tive of a larger is­sue, how­ever. They all caught colds be­cause they’d been sit­ting in that area for days, all wait­ing to see the same GP. The doc­tor in ques­tion had an alert above her head, show­ing the num­ber of pa­tients wait­ing to see her, while click­ing on her in­formed me that she was in dire need of a break and was, in fact, not a trained GP at all. She was an un­der­paid sur­geon fill­ing in for some­one. An­other prob­lem to fix.

Click­ing on a sin­gle pa­tient can send you down a rab­bit hole for the next hour, fine-tun­ing your hos­pi­tal with hand san­i­tiz­ers to keep out the germs and train­ing ses­sions so your sur­geons can also cover GPs. With each lit­tle tweak, you can see the hos­pi­tal re­act­ing and im­prov­ing, re­ward­ing you for your ef­forts. It should feel like you’re get­ting pulled in a mil­lion dif­fer­ent direc­tions, stretched to break­ing point, but in­stead one thing nat­u­rally leads to an­other. With one prob­lem solved, you’ll float into the next, and be­cause of the in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness of the hos­pi­tal, you might not even per­ceive them as two sep­a­rate prob­lems. It’s one giant or­gan­ism that you have to treat. I ex­pected to be per­pet­u­ally stressed, but there was al­ways a so­lu­tion star­ing me in the face.

Each hos­pi­tal is also just one part of a grow­ing port­fo­lio of pri­vate clin­ics, surg­eries, and teach­ing hos­pi­tals. By ful­fill­ing each mis­sion’s first ob­jec­tive, you’ll be able to move onto the next, but pro­gres­sion isn’t com­pletely lin­ear. The world is split up into re­gions, each with three hos­pi­tals, one of which is locked, while the oth­ers can be tack­led in ei­ther or­der. At any point, you can bounce out of your hos­pi­tal and hit up any that you’ve un­locked, al­most but not quite mak­ing up for the ab­sence of a proper sand­box mode. The main rea­son to re­turn to old haunts is to get a higher star rat­ing by com­plet­ing the ad­di­tional ob­jec­tives. It’s pos­si­ble to do them all in one go be­fore mov­ing to the next hos­pi­tal, but in the later re­gions they start to be­come de­mand­ing. With new rooms and equip­ment un­locked in other mis­sions, you can smash through old ob­sta­cles with ease.

Pro­gres­sion feels brisk and con­sis­tent. New toys are al­ways ap­pear­ing, a brand-new hos­pi­tal is only ever one ob­jec­tive away, and through­out it all you’re get­ting re­warded with ku­dosh, a cur­rency that can be spent on items to spice up your ster­ile rooms. There are a few ways to get ku­dosh, in­clud­ing in-game achieve­ments, but the most re­li­able way is by com­plet­ing ran­dom chal­lenges, like cur­ing seven peo­ple with an­i­mal mag­netism (they’re lit­er­ally an­i­mal mag­nets). These items let you flood your hos­pi­tals with char­ac­ter, but they also serve a prac­ti­cal pur­pose, in­creas­ing the hos­pi­tal’s pres­tige and putting ev­ery­one in a bet­ter mood.

Build­ing an Em­pire

De­spite Two Point Hos­pi­tal’s pen­chant for mad­cap an­tics and all the mem­o­rable dis­as­ters I’ve had to deal with, I’m strug­gling to re­mem­ber many stand­out mis­sions. Only oc­ca­sion­ally do they put a sig­nif­i­cant twist on the ‘just build a hos­pi­tal’ for­mula. Most of the time you’ll have a new ill­ness to deal with and thus a new room to build, but fun­da­men­tally most of these rooms do the same thing, with only vis­ual gags and puns to set them apart.

The con­stant es­ca­la­tion still means that no two mis­sions feel com­pletely iden­ti­cal, and new span­ners are al­ways be­ing thrown into the works, from freez­ing tem­per­a­tures to earth­quakes, but all of these things are shared across mul­ti­ple mis­sions. Earth­quakes (and light­ning strikes, since they’re func­tion­ally the same thing) don’t ex­actly shake things up, ei­ther. The jan­i­tors have to in­ter­mit­tently work a bit harder, but it’s barely no­tice­able.

There are some pleas­ant ex­cep­tions: Man­ag­ing a teach­ing hos­pi­tal where you can only bring in rook­ies who need train­ing in the class­room, or tak­ing over a pub­lic hos­pi­tal where you can’t charge money for any­thing. It’s a shame be­cause few other mis­sions got me to dig through the game and re­ally per­fect my hos­pi­tal quite as much as they did. Not that I haven’t had my hands full at ev­ery junc­ture. Even if a lot of Two Point Hos­pi­tal’s mis­sions bleed to­gether, there isn’t a sin­gle hos­pi­tal I haven’t en­joyed run­ning (into the ground).

While Two Point Hos­pi­tal cov­ers a lot of fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, it doesn’t feel like it’s been rudely dragged out of the ’90s. If you’ve been of­fer­ing up stetho­scopes to Hip­pocrates’ ghost for a new Theme Hos­pi­tal, you’ll find it here; but if you’re not crav­ing that fix of nos­tal­gia, Two Points Stu­dios’ spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor will still keep you up to your el­bows in corpses and icky ill­nesses un­til the wee hours of the morn­ing.

There isn’t a sin­gle hos­pi­tal I haven’t en­joyed run­ning (into the ground)

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