I remember the nineties. There was no broadband, mobile phones were only just coming into the mainstream and if you had a case of Slack Tongue, you only had one option. And no, it wasn’t the NHS.
Two Point Hospital is picking up the baton that Theme Hospital dropped in the nineties due (to sim-related budget cuts, probably) and is trying to re-invigorate the ‘fix imaginatively named and mildly amusing disease’ genre at the same time.
The footage and dev-talks on this game are joyous and it is immediately identifiable for what it is; a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital. The isometric view, cartoon-y graphics and overall feel of the game seems bang on the money and it looks like playing it will be akin to slipping on a pair of well worn yet comfortable slippers.
For those not in the know, Two Point Hospital (2PH henceforth) is a sim game where you build and manage a hospital with the view to making it profitable. You have to build and design rooms, hire staff (doctors, nurses, janitors etc), identify the needs of patients and then research and build treatment rooms to cure the ill. There is a financial management side, a large strategic element and enough information to have a rough idea of what may be coming up to allow you to try to plan ahead. Typically though, and certainly in your first few play-through’s, it’ll go hilariously wrong and you’ll be bust (and knee-deep in vomit) by the end of your 3rd year.
2PH is that, and apparently more too. The way the game plays, right down to the placing of individual radiators and chairs (yes heat is something you have to manage) is reminiscent of Bullfrogs early classic. There are hints too though that 2PH is expanding on this further. The financial side seems to be expanded to allow the hospital to specialise in treating certain ailments, adding a level of co-operation and marketing with the other ‘in game’ hospitals and a further level of complexity. It’s an interesting idea and I think it could be a useful way to keep the game fresh in the later levels. We’ll also be treated to a range of new diseases and hopefully they’ll keep some of the more complex issues that required multiple treatment rooms to cure, to really ramp up that difficulty towards the end of the game.
That said, I do hope they get the difficulty level right. In Theme Hospital you spent the vast majority of your time just behind the curve- you were always trying to catch up and react to issues- with one eye on the impending events that you also needed to plan for. It made for a sometimes frustrating experience, but it was enjoyable and always managed to drag you in. The temptation could be to make it too easy, and then i feel a large part of what makes this genre work could be gone. That said, what I’ve seen so far makes me think that ‘we’re in safe hands, so we’ll wait and see what the diagnosis is…
The original Theme Hospital was an utter classic of it’s time, coming second only to Syndicate for the share of my game time in that decade and if 2PH can get close to that i’ll be very happy indeed.
Keep your eyes (safely) peeled for more news on this game soon.