Like many, Theme Hospital was a mainstay of my middle childhood. Bullfrog's appreciably wacky approach to a hospital management sim has ensured that, to this day, management sims are one of the only strategy-adjacent sort of strategy games that I really enjoy. And a few years ago, a new stuidio emerged to take up that odd torch, providing us with Two Point Hospital.
TPH is a world of for-profit hospitals, and given my own acumen as a hospital manager under those conditions, I'm sure that I would never want to see the back of the NHS. But it's also terrific fun, introducing a suite of new weird diseases and corresponding treatment machines for them. My favourite is animal magnetism, an affliction that means small furry creatures are stuck to the patient. There's aso grey anatomy, which renders them entirely greyscale. It's the sort of game where an appreciation for dreadful puns is sort of a prerequisite. Your janitorial staff also need to be able to deal with ghosts
But the reason TPH (and Theme Hospital before it) is good is because this wacky blancmange, this cream pie to the face, is served as the side dish to a very meaty management sim. You have different staff with different kinds of expertise for different kinds of treatment - a psychiatrist's office can only be staffed by a psychiatrist, for example. At the same time, staff will become tired and need breaks, so do you overstaff on GPs, so that your GP offices (the first and busiest point of call in a hospital) never go unstaffed? Or is that a flagrant waste of wages you can't afford? A similar caculus must be undertaken for nurses, janitors and receptionsts.
Plus the hospital must be laid out as efficiently as possible. Everyone needs access to toilets, for example, and a freezing hospital is not a well-rated hospital. But heating, like extra doctors, is expensive... And if you like the base game, there are about half a dozen weird and wonderful DLC expansion that add new diseases and themed areas.
The formula is a popular and succesful one. It was only recently announced by Two Point Studios that they'll be applying the same Bullfrog-esque sensibilities to university as to hospital. Two Point Campus is coming to video game box machines near you next year.