Harkening back to the “good old days” of Theme Hospital from Bullfrog in the '90s, Two Point Hospital wraps the same irreverent humour into a modern game that introduces a whole new generation to the joys of medicine. This is a game about managing expectations. Patients expect to be treated and healed, staff expect to earn pay raises, and health inspectors expect not to have to come in and shut the whole operation down.
In practice, it boils down to building a hospital and trying to keep the lights on, and as an added bonus, keep the patients alive. In this privatised healthcare system, players earn money and a coveted three-star rating by keeping patients, staff, health inspectors and your bank balance happy. Get it wrong, though, and you’ll find yourself sacking staff, surrounded by litter and having to deal with people relieving themselves in the hallway. Oh, and did we mention the ghosts of dead patients?
It all begins with a patient’s journey. Once they’ve entered the hospital, they’ll need to be greeted by a receptionist, before waiting to see the GP. They'll have a partial diagnosis from this first visit, but will in all likelihood be referred to one of the many possible diagnosis rooms, such as x-ray clinics, fluid analysis labs, and plenty more besides. Once their diagnosis hits 100% they'll be pointed in the direction of the specific treatment room that will (hopefully) fix their ails. Part of the fun of Two Point Hospital is spotting bottlenecks in this flow chart and making changes to alleviate them – be that through hiring extra staff or building extra facilities.
Of course, there are other considerations to take into account. If one part of the hospital is too hot or too cold, patients and staff will have their happiness decreased, which can eventually lead to them leaving the hospital and taking their sweet cash with them. They’ll also need food, drink, and space to sit down, as well as posters to look at and greenery to brighten their stay. Even plenty of hours in, we still feel like you can never have too many janitors – although the game’s helpful advice and tips often help ensure your wage bill is trimmed.
You'll also want to be earning Kudosh, the game’s 'premium' currency which is used exclusively to unlock new items. One way to do this is through staff members challenging you to complete objectives like avoiding patient deaths for a number of days, or improving your staff room to a higher standard. Then there are emergency patients, sent in small groups to make use of the facilities and that carry an extra financial reward – if you’re able to heal them successfully.
While the game lets you move from one hospital to the next once you’ve developed it into a well-oiled healthcare machine, no hospital is ever really done. There are always opportunities to earn more money, to diagnose new illnesses, and extend the building itself over the surrounding areas. When you do decide to move on, you’ll find fresh challenges abound. Some cash-strapped hospitals rely on cheaper doctors that aren’t necessarily as capable, while others will be suffering an epidemic of an illness that’s expensive to treat, which makes the development of new technology a priority.
There’s always something going on, with a great rhythm to proceedings meaning you never feel like you’re entirely prepared for what’s around the corner. There are always things you can’t plan for, like earthquakes and the like, but these never feel as seismic as they could (pun intended). That said, if a tremor did lead to the deaths of dozens of people that might have somewhat gone against the irreverent nature of the game.
The beating heart (again, intended) of Two Point Hospital is its comedy, and it permeates every aspect of the game. From staff names like 'Dr. Explosion' or 'Ms. Chatterbox' the receptionist to staff attributes that range from those that inform gameplay (a member of staff with the “Green Fingers” trait will water plants around them, increasing patient and staff morale) to ridiculous statements like “owns a crossbow” or “assumes every party is fancy dress”, these little medical miracles feel like they have their own personalities. That’s backed up by elevator-worthy music interspersed with sardonic DJs that complain about gravy allergies and the way they enjoy collecting traffic cones. Two Point Hospital really nails the humour.
Then there are the illnesses, each with their own required treatments and ranging from the chortle-worthy to the hilarious in a ‘Dad Joke’ kind of way. “Lightheadedness” leaves patients walking around with a lightbulb for a head, while “Mock Star” turns them into a psuedo-Freddy Mercury until a psychiatrist can fix things. Each new illness feels like a reward in itself, with 'Bogwarts' sounding particularly uncomfortable. It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt of course, and if a patient dies on the premises you’ll have to deal with a spooky ghost haunting the hallways, causing chaos, and dropping gloopy ectoplasm everywhere. That is unless you have a janitor with the right qualification to be able to hoover up the undead, Ghostbusters or Luigi’s Mansion-style.
All of this wouldn’t be much fun if the game didn’t control well, and in moving from PC to the Switch the game has lost none of its intuitive use of screen space. A handy tabbed menu in the bottom-left corner is your best friend, allowing you to build, hire, and manage everything else with just a couple of button presses.
Text is impressively legible in handheld mode (and on the Switch Lite), but when playing undocked it can feel a little tricky to locate (and select) an individual patient or member of staff. Luckily, a list of everyone in the hospital can be found in the aforementioned menu screen, so you can still pluck a member of staff from the break room and put them to work if you think they’re not working hard enough.
It's clear that Two Point Studios has taken its time when it comes to adapting this game to Switch, and the hard work has paid off handsomely. Add in the fact that two of the three DLC packs are included, and what you're looking at is possibly the definitive iteration of the game, sans that third DLC pack. What's more just being able to take your hospital on the road is a real boon that even existing fans of the game will appreciate. In terms of presentation, the frame rate can dip at times when there's an awful lot on screen at once, but it's not something that really impacted our enjoyment. Visually the Switch version is also very close to the editions seen elsewhere, which isn't all that surprising as Two Point Hospital is hardly a graphical powerhouse. Still, it's nice to see some parity with the other editions in this area, and if you've yet to experience the game on any system, the Switch version should probably be your number one choice.
The highest praise we can give Two Point Hospital is that it feels impossible not to have fun with it. It’s zanier than an episode of Scrubs and shot through with some of the most satisfying sim gameplay of any title this generation. It may be heavily inspired by games that came before, but in truth, it feels like a natural evolution of Bullfrog’s title, surpassing it in so many ways and is an endlessly enjoyable addition to the Switch’s third-party library. It's also arguably the best version of the game so far, given its visual similarity to other versions, and being able to carry the experience around with you makes it even more appealing and addictive.