Theme Hospital vets reveal spiritual sequel Two Point Hospital – & plans for a shared universe of sim games

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The Simpsons, Aardman Animations, Twin Peaks, Prison Architect and, quite naturally, Theme Hospital – these are the major inspirations behind Two Point Hospital, an upcoming sim/management game from some of the folk responsible for Bullfrog’s Theme glory years. Two Point Hospital, a combination of management and comedy in a fantasy healthcare centre, is due for release – via publishers Sega – later this year, and the first trailer is below. I also had a big chat with lead devs and Bullfrog/Lionhead veterans Gary Carr and Mark Webley about the game over here.

Here’s your first look at Two Point Hospital, which aims primarily to set out its comedy credentials, and a return to Theme Hospital’s made-up diseases and cures – in this case, the wordplay/visual gag double-punch of ‘Lightheadedness’:

“We didn’t want to throw away the charm of the original,” explains co-founder Gary Carr, ex of Bullfrog, Mucky Foot and Lionhead, “but this its own entity. Whenever you read back about the game, it’s always nostalgic and people remember things slightly through rose-tinted spectacles, but people did talk about the humour a lot and I think we’ve managed to do that again.” However, “Even though thematically it shares a relationship with something we made back in the day, it’s a very different experience.”

The last 10 seconds of that trailer is in-game footage, the devs assure me, and built in the Unity engine. The current state of the game is that they’re feature-complete but still pre-alpha. They won’t be drawn on a release date outside of ‘later this year’, but tell me that they don’t plan to go down the early access route for Two Point Hospital – full release is the plan, possibly with a closed beta ahead of that.

Though Two Point Hospital would seem to have much in common with its 1997 predecessor, the plan is for more modern humour and interface sensibilities, plus a more sandboxy rather than strictly level-based approach. “It feels like you can play it in a number of different ways and get different results,” says Carr, “which was my negative about the original – I felt I had to play it a certain way. So I think we got that right.

Two Point Hospital is but stage one of larger plan to bring Theme Park/Hospital games in the Bullfrogian image back, however. “We want to build out a world of sim games, and this seemed like a good starting point because of our history,” says Carr.

The two inspirations there are The Simpsons’ Springfield, with its self-contained locations such as the power plant and Moe’s Tavern, and Twin Peaks’ sense of visual landmarks and traditions. “We knew with Two Point County we would at some point build a hospital facility in our linked-up world, we just thought it was sensible to do that first, because it was one of the things we were known for in our past. Our bigger picture is to be multiple themed sims within Two Point County.”

Two Point Hospital is due out on Steam in “late 2018.” The game’s site is over here.

For much more on Two Point Hospital, including the Prison Architect influence, why Carr and Webley are returning to sim games now, how they believe game humour has changed since the 90s and why they think the genre has often lain fallow in the intervening years, please request a relocation to our interview ward here.

9 Comments

  1. Synesthesia says:

    Yes, please.

  2. Moneymancer Marklew says:

    I’m always surprised by how well Theme Hospital has aged. Even graphics-wise. If they make the gameplay half as good as the original, with plenty to do and research, but without feeling excessively complex or contrived, I’m in!

  3. Jozef Kundlak says:

    Nice! Really comes close to the original TH look, which brings in a plus point. And if the gameplay is the same lightweight humour-filled thing, many people will be sold!

  4. Imaginary Llamas says:

    I hope they don’t completely eschew levels/scenarios, but it looks good so far otherwise.

  5. Zorgulon says:

    Yes, please indeed. I think the transatlantic shift is a nice idea too, pinpricking that very American world of pharmaceutical ads.

    I’m happy to see a move to a more sandboxy approach, too. I love Theme Hospital, but the strict linear level progression is a little frustrating.

  6. int says:

    Everyone looks like Wallace! Where’s Gromit?

    • Someoldguy says:

      He’s one of the first patients. For a while now he’s been suffering from extreme fatigue, and now they’ve made a diagnosis. He’s bone tired.

  7. Crafter says:

    I don’t really dig the look of this game.

    The characters look pretty creepy in the trailer (they look way better in the game though) and lightheadedness sounds like a less funny clone of the Theme Hospital diseases. I guess they probably can’t copy these though ?

    Still curious to see how this will turn out. Worst case scenario I will just replay Theme Hospital (and now I have its music in my head)

  8. Hunchback says:

    How long i’ve been waiting for this…!