Developed by Oxymoron games, in Project Hospital you build and manage your own hospital. By hospital here we mean a small clinic with only a single department, or a huge burgeoning hospital with multiple floors. It is all up to you!
First of all it’s best to look at the tutorials when you enter any strategy or simulation game (the more complicated, more so). I have to admit it took me at least three hours to fully understand the basics of the game. But taking the time to go through the tutorials, again and again, if necessary, is well worth it. If bugs don’t make it unplayable.
The first tutorial is definitely better explained than the last one but sometimes the red arrows can be missed if you are not looking all over the screen. These red arrows mark the pieces of text or images where they want you to focus on. If you get stuck you look for those red arrows.
I know that for many players the learning curve in such games can be treacherous, and force some to give up. But most strategy games require you to put in hours learning the game before you can start enjoying it. This really pays off with Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings and it’s no less the case with Project Hospital.
The first tutorial is simple. It is mainly about treating patients and their “cards” containing their information and statistics, though I had to go through it twice. The second is about building and the different departments in a hospital and the final one is about complex management including dealing with patients on the verge of death.
Now I managed to get through the second tutorial through trial, error and multiple tries. The third tutorial should be made less befuddling though and gamers have complained about it. It is also very buggy and game-breakingly so. Now I was tearing my hair out of frustration until better sense prevailed and I started a sandbox clinic. Luckily it appears the third tutorial can be avoided early game and hopefully you learn as you play.
The game is fun. The player has two choices when treating patients. He can either take a hands-on approach by controlling the examination, diagnosis and treatment himself or watch the doctor do his thing personally. A player can learn a lot about the game, diseases, symptoms and medicine just by watching the doctor practice his art. Of course though a lot of the stuff is manually done, like hiring the doctor you want as well as any other staff.
You also furnish the hospital room by room, department by department. This is made easy. Once you click on the floor you can know which items the room requires and you select and place them. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. For those who don’t want to micro-manage there are pre-built departmental rooms, full with equipment you can just copy. This can be very helpful late game and you don’t feel you are constantly building rooms from the ground.
The inability to change camera angles can be a pain sometimes, especially when building, but not a game-breaking one. Usually playing around with the walls gives you access to those hard-to-reach spaces you are unable to access.
The only real and major issue I found was that there was no undo option in the building menu. The player is bound to make mistakes and designing an entire room can be a hurdle when deleting and replacing items. It is extremely frustrating when you want to test or practice with items and in various areas of the room. You have to buy the same equipment more than once because of these placement issues, resulting in a constant decline in money that could be saved. A patch is coming to solve the problem though.
Lesser issues include the fact that it could add more content to improve the appearance of your hospital other than by limiting the player with diversely colored walls, panels and flooring. It does not match the Sims in equipment and there are only a few decorations. Now this would not be an issue, but to maintain the prestige and environment of your hospital, decorations are necessary and it can be annoying placing the same items over and over again. This concept of prestige is critical to this game but isn’t explained at all in the tutorial.
I also would have liked to have more control over the finances and increase the charges for curing the various diseases and conditions patients come to the hospital with.
The game is divided into departments. As in real life, the departments have sub departments and require rooms to operate. This can make the game complex, especially in the late game as your hospital grows. The game surely eases you in, but as you advance, maintaining the prestige of the hospital as well as managing profits become much harder.
Now it is realistic only to a degree. Most patients across the world come to a clinic for mild conditions like fever, common cold and influenza. During a year around 80% of patients are part of this category. Hospitals usually handle slightly more difficult cases but doctors there too treat patients with mild symptoms most of the time.
But no strategy game can be completely realistic and sometimes realism needs to be ditched for some fun! The variety of diseases that each patient comes with makes the game so much more interesting. Of course it is more fun to cure patients with diverse diseases compared to patients that are simply suffering from the common cold. Strategy gamers hate repetition, so if common flu is repeated multiple times they ditch the game for another (And they have options like 2 Point Hospital.). The beauty of strategy games and simulation games is that with each play-through you get a different result and Project Hospital surely delivers in this regard.
The games strength is that there are about a hundred or more realistic diseases, medications and equipment available to choose from, let alone real-life departments and rooms in those departments. To truly understand what you are placing in which room, you have to be a doctor, nurse or other medical professional. But you don’t have to be a doctor to play. This balance makes the game very interesting and says “you don’t have to be a doctor to play but you can learn a lot about hospitals as you play.”
I have talked about learning in games though and as far as hospital management goes this game is the mother of learning about medical art, despite the various medical equipment’s function being unmentioned. Some players have even claimed that even the daily wages of staff are about right, if it were an American hospital.
To top it off all your staff and patients have different perks, abilities, characteristics and specializations (for staff). The player has to manage the staff carefully. You also have to take care of hospitalized patients who stay for one or more nights at the hospital and the game has a day night cycle where staff need to be assigned for both shifts. This adds to depth and few games with such a tiny file size, or minimalistic graphics, are so advanced in content as Project Hospital.
Sandbox mode is available and offers the option to build at your own pace. But I have found that the main way to earn is through grants rather than hospital income. These grants can be completed by accomplishing specific objectives such as building a Stat lab, or curing ten patients a day. There could be more options here in sandbox, though. You can start with a default hospital or a piece of land where you build yourself. But it lacked options like how much money the player would start with, how much to charge for treatments, the difficulty of the game or to start with staff employed already or not. But there are a few options like free building and patient death which can be toggled on and off.
There is also a campaign mode and a challenge mode. In challenge mode you are asked to complete a scenario that ends, when you, for example, succeed or fail to get, 90% patient treatment for 10 days in your hospital.
Some gamers have criticized the cluttered look of the hospital. This is true especially in the late game and management becomes more difficult as you build the various departments. But if people want good aesthetics there are always games with better graphics to play. Late game bugs are also a problem, one where a patient gets stuck in a doctor’s room, being principally frustrating.
The good thing is Project Hospital does not tax your pc and while it may be fun to play games with better graphic quality from time to time it is equally fun to play games with more simple graphics, provided they have entertainment value and Project Hospital delivers for sure.
Review Platform: PC
- Features real symptoms, conditions, diseases and treatments. Doctors or medical students should play this game.
- Good entertainment value.
- Game has depth. With multiple departments which you build slowly and gradually, one by one. It really makes you feel like you own the hospital.
- You can build your hospital as you like, at your own pace, and on multiple floors.
- Lots of realistic medical items to choose from in your hospital.
- Can have up to 200 doctors, nurses, janitors, (etc) as staff, making it possible for you to build a truly enormous hospital.
- All your staff, from lowly janitors to highly educated surgeons, have different characteristics, presenting fun new challenges in staff management.
- Not demanding on your graphics card. Runs smoothly on the most outdated PC/Laptop.
- Small file size. Easy installing.
- Sandbox mode doesn’t have many options. For example you can’t decide how much cash your clinic starts with or how much you charge your patients for their simple and complex ailments.
- Can get confusing to manage during the late game.
- For some gamers the learning curve can put them off. You have to be willing to sit for hours and learn the game before you can make your own hospital. The more you play the better you get though.
- The final tutorial can be confusing and buggy. There is also an ambulance and treatment bug, sometimes game-breaking.