Well they don’t need a graphic designer
Two Point Hospital is a game about designing a machine to profit from misery, and designing it so efficiently that the schmucks inside of it never realise it was a machine to begin with.
Two Point Hospital is also goofy, colourful, occasionally hilarious, and layered with so many quickfire gags I’m still finding new ones after dozens of hours with it. Like the Little Shop of Horrors-esque carnivorous plants that you can place around your hospital so patients find it more attractive, that occasionally spit out skulls at wandering staff, who then hastily stash them in their jackets. Or the sentient monobrows that creep along the floors, just begging to be sniped with your cursor.
Get patients in, diagnose them, cure them, send them home, and keep them happy enough along the way that they don’t seem to mind that you’re grossly overcharging them. The more efficient your misery machine is, the more you keep patients in fizzy drinks and snacks and regular toilet breaks, the more you can charge them without it damaging your hospital’s reputation. Keep reputation high, and you’ll get more patients, which means more money to spend on singing fish and opulent water fountains to pretty up the place, to train and hire better staff, and to run manipulative marketing campaigns. Again, this all makes for a smoother treadmill and keeps those disease dollars rolling in.
You get a gold star and a lollipop
Completing objectives in each hospital awards you with a star ranking out of three. If you’re just after the lower stars, it’s a fairly chill, occasionally hectic management game. Going for full marks will have you micromanaging staff skills and patient health, and designing each part of your hospital to perfection. Both are incredibly compulsive and enjoyable ways to play, and both are elevated by Two Point Hospital’s defining idiosyncrasy of cartoon gallows humour, dad jokes, and ruthless capitalist efficiency.
So, how does it hold up as a console game? To implement a bit of hearty and spurious generalisation for the sake of making a point: There are two types of ports in this world, son. The kind that is so seamless that you’d never tell you weren’t playing on the intended platform and the kind where the compromises made remain apparent.
Two Point Hospital for Switch is the second kind. I’d use Firaxis’ XCOM as an example for a benchmark for a PC-centric game that felt like it could have been designed with consoles in mind. Two Point Hospital feels like a port of a PC game, and that’s the version I’d recommend if you’ve got the option. This said, economical and intuitive controller layouts mean that if the Switch is your main go-to, or you simply fancy some hospital management on the bus, this version is a fine choice.
The friendliest capitalism
This recommendation isn’t without a few caveats, however. Some of the issues with the port can’t be helped. Analogue sticks are less precise than a mouse, and I will always leave my coffee downstairs at least once after rushing down to make it. This is life. There’s some handy grid-snap when placing items, which helps to an extent, but singling out a staff member in a moving crowd can still be tricky. You can press the left stick to pause at any time, though.
Others are distinct as design compromises. Zoom out is reduced by around two thirds, with the highest level replaced by flat blueprints. It’s still functional, just not ideal. Lower resolution is to be expected, as is a noticeable improvement when docked.
There’s a hefty bit of lag when the in-game year ends and when saving, and some information pop-ups don’t pop-up when up they should pop. Occasionally the cursor will decide it doesn’t exist. Sandbox mode, too, is currently absent from the game, although this is reportedly arriving in an early update. If the care and support Two Point Studios have shown the game on PC is any indicator, I doubt it’ll be long before issues like these get sorted.
So, all in, it’s a decent port of a great game, that knows that the best way to succeed in capitalism is not only to shaft the vulnerable, but to shaft them with a smile.
[Reviewed on Nintendo Switch]