Review copy provided by Oxymoron Games. Reviewed on PC.
It is something of an accomplishment, this brilliant simulation of cute cartoon figures taking on the role of doctors and treating other cute cartoon figures. It is really a refreshing remake of the older hospital simulation games but with a different artstyle and considerable medical accurateness. It is a rare gem indeed, this splendid game but regrettably a colossal debacle: that in its entirety, its faults overshadow all its achievements profoundly and rather irritably. It is a confounding mess, a splendid confounding mess which fails to provide the requisites for smooth sailing- a ship with a rudder but without a mast.
WHAT IS PROJECT HOSPITAL ABOUT?
Project Hospital is a hospital simulation game developed and published by Oxymoron Games. The game is available on Steam for Rs. 569.
LET ME REVIEW IT
Project Hospital is a charming hospital simulation game. At first sight, it will lure any hospital sim fan to it. But the affinity will loosen over time as one surpasses its very fundamental establishment. It leaves a rather foul taste, almost giving the idea that all the sweat that went into its creation was reduced, in the end, to a mocking fiasco. I will not unleash my tantrum and go on a reviling tirade for all that’s wrong with it. In no way will I disrespect the developers for their hard work, for all the hours they’ve slogged writing and rewriting the hundreds of lines of codes has yielded this beautiful game which I have loved and loathed all the same. Instead, I would lay down my very honest opinions which the developers could consider for future updates if they wished so.
The relative simplicity of the game is what drew me to it. It is bolstered by an attractive art style that is adorable in a way of its own. The designing aspect is well made and follows the old block/tile style item placement where each item occupies a number of tiles when placed, thereby necessitating preliminary planning. There are different types of rooms that can be delineated with regard to proper planning. Every designated area in the hospital requires its own set of requisites to house the staff required for functioning. The rooms will remain non-operational during a vacancy. Staff can be recruited on the basis of four categories: Doctors, Nurses, Technologists, Janitors. Staff shifts are divided into day and night shifts.
Every staff in their respective categories have their individual traits and areas of specialisation. Doctors may be specialised in anaesthesia, general surgery, operative surgery, advanced diagnosis. Nurses may be specialised receptionists, patient caretakers or have clinical expertise which grants them access to operation theatres to aid the surgeons in carrying out surgeries. Likewise, technologists and janitors also have similar specialisations of their own. In addition to these, individual traits describe the kind of person who is being hired. It gives the characters a personality of their own. Long commuters will arrive late while early birds will reach early. The presence of both these traits will lead to them cancelling each other out. Alcoholics will get drunk and probably not turn up for work. A character can, therefore, possess multiple good and bad traits that will affect their performance, the patients and the overall rating of your hospital directly. There is also a quality factor which determines how good a staff member will perform in their field. A specialist is in the highest order and will render the best service expected as opposed to an intern who has barely any experience. It’s almost tempting to try and hire the best of the staff available but there is no point in doing so, the reason which I will expound in a while.
It is always advised to recruit interns or decent staff with some degree of knowledge about their field to start off with. This is crucial to not losing yourself to the endless cycle of the debt trap which the game forces the players into. It is like an everlasting pitfall of doom and despair, one which if you fall in are bound to as if it were the thick shackles of some archaic torture chamber. It feels redundant as the staff will level up eventually with more experience. But it is recommended that you hire at least one specialist mid-game to help out with accurate diagnostics.
There is a very unique system in place which allows the player to diagnose the patients themselves. Complicated diagnoses will be reported to the player by random pop-up and the player can be a doctor and examine the patients, order several tests to be carried out(the quality of these tests are determined by the quality of the technologists in place), determine the ailment based on the symptoms and provide suitable remedies. In one way it acts as an assurance in the early stage of the game by enabling the player to take control of the process and shun inaccurate diagnoses from new inexperienced physicians. This is what makes the game so amusing. There is a strange pleasure in pretending to be a doctor, something which you dreamed of as a child but never got up to because you were too afraid of high ambitions and utter failure. It helps you get on with life on a more jolly note and makes you feel like a medical practitioner even if it means distorting reality. But who really cares, right? Reality sucks! Life is full of disappointments and one needs time off to enjoy the little things therein. And Project Hospital was a soothing, relaxing experience. But once your hospital grows, you would have less and less to do. Your doctors will gain more experience and improve themselves and their wages would grow over time. You will be left to expanding the business with hardly any profit. The more you expand the more patients you receive from various insurance companies— which can be unlocked after various sections are built. But, it increasingly grows tedious with every bit of extension you add to your facility.
Every department has a special feature which enables patients to be hospitalised. Hospitalisation could hence be activated when a certain number of rooms are assigned to the building. HDU’s, General Wards and ICU’s require On Call Rooms with a specified number of doctors and surgeons and Nurse Stations with nurses to cater for hospitalised patients and help during surgeries all round the clock.
The janitor AI appears to be too dumb to notice the blood stains on the floor and will completely ignore them for the most part. In the end what you’ll be left with would look like anything but a hospital and more like some slaughterhouse out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The dejecting news being, the absence of an apparatus to prioritise tasks. Over time my stat labs began to be occupied. I insisted on having only one technologist at first but decided to hire an additional one to help with the process faster. I am not sure whether it was the right call or should I have made another lab to handle the stress on the hospital. But seeing that it would incur further losses I refrained myself from being the spendthrift I am.
The building/designing becomes so dull after a while that I am grateful there are prefabricated rooms to throw in. Remember when I said that certain rooms need a set amount of requisites before they can be deemed operational? The instructions are sometimes not clear enough as to how, where and in what order the items need to be arranged which is why I ended up confused as to why even though I’d placed the materials the room would not register as operational. Sometimes even when the furniture and items are arranged in the correct order the information bar would say that the room does not have the required items to function. This could either be a bug or a silly mistake I made because of the inability of the game to communicate clearly. Editing the items in the room is rather simple. At first, when you placed an item on top of a table you’d have to sell it and replace it in the desirable location if you wanted to renovate your hospital solely because it would simply not select both the objects on the whole but would select the object on the tabletop which you cannot place on the floor. And with nowhere to move it anywhere you feel compelled to sell it so u can move the table. Here is where the tile system became a problem for me since the table and the item on top of it was on the same tile, the system couldn’t pick up which item I wanted to get rid off and ended up selling both. But this issue was patched in a later update and I was glad to find. But as I said, all this becomes highly repetitive and boring.
There are several departments: Emergency, Radiology, ICU, Internal Medicine, General Surgeries, Orthopaedy, Cardiology, Neurology. These along with their own array of rooms make up your hospital. Disappointingly, I had misjudged the scope of the game when I saw it for the first time. I presumed it to be better than what it was. But I guess my predictions turned out to be quite erroneous. I was utterly dispirited when I discovered that the game had missed out on many key areas of medicine and I was hardly able to keep a stiff upper lip. How could you make a hospital simulator without including one of medical science’s most important branches of the present era, psychology/psychiatry? At this point, you are bound to feel that the game could have been more than what it is. It could have had a lot of more content which could have kept boredom at bay.
The worst is yet to come. It is downright outrageous how you are bound to end up in the debt trap early on or mid-game no matter what you do. There is no ground for recovery. It is as if the game is engineered to pull you into it. It coerces you to rely on loaning capital more often, given the exorbitant cost of some equipment. The system is quite aversive to profit-making and you are likely to find yourself be ridden with a bunch of finance-related issues: torn between employee wages, the burden of building which is nowhere near affordable, the lost income over the number of untreated patients complaining how there is no sonography unit in the hospital when there clearly is one if they walk down the corridor and how there is a lack of empty bed. At the end of the day, all your investments will be reduced to a shocking loss and aggravate your bipolar disorder. And if you are wise enough not to shoot yourself in the head you can enjoy a few more rounds of this game in the hopes of getting something decent out of it but end up despondent all the same and call it quits. After everything, you feel insulted— that the game hasn’t treated you right. Maybe it should be a tad bit lenient and in lieu of rewarding players with cash for accomplishments via its insurance tab which is restrictive, encourage investments by providing more cash surplus from treating patients. Then there is that ridiculous intake which limits how many patients you get in a day and the monotonous night shifts that you have to sit through and feel like there could have been a better use of 24 hours service because whatever is being yielded during the day is hardly adequate to keep your struggling facility afloat. It either drives you into a loss or a profit on a very small margin, “unnoticeable” if I am to put it in one simple word. At this juncture, you’d be thankful that at least the music is decent but then learn that it is the same one running on repeat.
MY FINAL IMPRESSION
This game is not altogether a disappointment. It has its moments and even though it is lacking in several aspects, there is something sublime about it which makes me want to play it every now and then. It is not the best hospital simulator for PC and certainly not the worst. And minus all its drawbacks, I still believe it is a magnificent game and could be fixed quite easily and comfortably.