Healthcare is a right, not a privilege – except, of course, when it’s a video game. This is exactly the case in Two Point Hospital, an addictive hospital management simulator that has been transferred to consoles after a successful outing on PC.
In Two Point Hospital, you are tasked with building, arranging, expanding and managing a number of different hospital sites. Your duties include the hiring and firing of staff members, planning the layout, and selecting the decor – making sure that both staff and patients are having a merry old time of it.
The game was originally developed by Two Point Studios (hence the name), with the console porting duties going to Red Kite Games. Simulation games are not naturally suited to consoles; it took The Sims, for example, several attempts before its console ports were able to strike the right balance between complexity and playability.
Keeping that in mind, Two Point Hospital makes an admirable go of the transition; some minor frustrations with the camera controls and menu systems do not really affect the playing experience at all.
Visually, the game is bright but charmless, favouring broad cartoonish strokes over meticulous real-life detail. It was praised for its sense of humour when it was first released; personally, I found it a bit tiresome. Then again, the prospect of a poe-faced, grimly realistic hospital simulator is even more off-putting, so maybe Two Point had the right idea.
Patients are admitted because of ailments such as “Mock Star” syndrome, which turns them into Freddie Mercury impersonators. It’s frivolous enough that it’s never going to cause offence, and keeps the tone light as air. At the end of the day, the hospital setting is an aesthetic; squint a little, and you could just as easily be managing a shopping centre, or a zoo.
The gameplay is engaging and gently moreish, but starts to wear thin after about 10 hours or so (although two DLC packs are included at launch, and more features will be made freely available for download from the end of March). With its price of £34.99 befitting a longer (and, dare I say, flashier) game, Two Point Hospital might be a hard sell for anyone without a strong pre-existing enthusiasm for the management sim genre.
Video games can be a means of letting people live out their wildest fantasies – from running criminal empires to razing cities with electric superpowers. It might be hard to see the appeal in a modest little management sim that lets you role play as Matt Hancock. But for those that can, the diagnosis is positive.
Two Point Hospital is available now on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch