It was only two months ago that Two Point Hospital was released and now we are getting another hospital simulator in the form of Project Hospital. Fortunately, I never played the former, so I will not be making comparisons between the two. Unfortunately though, Project Hospital is a hospital simulator marred by technical and design issues.
In-depth management. Not only does Project Hospital allow players to build and manage a hospital, but it goes one step further by allowing players the ability to manage individual patients, from tests, to diagnosis, to treatment. The game does not take this aspect lightly either, providing a complete and in-depth diagnosis and treatment system. There is a massive number of diseases and injuries to choose from and an equally massive number of tests and treatments to prescribe. The game maintains a similar level of depth with its other simulation aspects as well, including the actual construction and management of the hospital. Individual departments can be constructed and managed as needed, staff can be assigned based on the many perks and skills available to them, and the player can even completely change how the hospital operates depending on the time of day. It was quite nice to have such in-depth management, as it really makes for a good simulator.
Optional micromanagement. On top of the in-depth management features, Project Hospital also allows the player to customize the experience even further by making most of this management optional. Instead of individually controlling each patient, the player can instead just let the doctors take care of them, so more focus can be put on building. If building is not your thing, the game also provides a number of prefabs, dramatically reducing the amount of time spent building. In fact, the game even offers several prebuilt hospitals in its sandbox mode if the player just wants to focus on patient treatment and not have to worry about building. I personally used a mix of these two, diagnosing some patients, but leaving the vast majority to my doctors. As for building, I would oftentimes use the prefab rooms, but customize them a bit to fit my needs. The game really strikes a nice balance there when it comes to micromanagement.
Quality of life issues. For a simulation game, Project Hospital is really lacking in the quality of life department. There are several features missing that I would consider essential for the genre, the most basic of which would have to be the ability to undo and redo changes. As it stands, if I make a mistake placing an item, I will have to move it manually or sell it at a loss. It is even worse when placing full rooms, as a single misclick can cost the player thousands. For example, I managed to place an entire room one tile off of where I had intended to place it, causing me to spend the next fifteen or so minutes moving everything over one tile to fit what I had planned. A simple undo feature would have not only saved me time here, but frustration as well. On top of that, the game does not have an eyedropper tool, making it difficult copy certain patterns throughout the hospital. As someone that prefers uniformity when building, this made the process of doing so much more troublesome.
Also, on the topic of building, the game makes it incredibly difficult to move certain objects. Take a desk for example. In order to move a desk, one must first remove everything on the desk before being able to pick up the desk itself. To make matters worse, the objects on the desk need to be placed onto another available surface or deleted in order to free the cursor. I oftentimes would have to go out of my way to place an extra table just to hold some items temporarily while I moved the desk. This applies to any item in the game that can have objects placed directly above or on it (like a poster above a chair, for example). If the game would simply allow these objects to be selected independently, then it would not be an issue, but here we are. The game does has a couple other quality of life issues, but these are the few that stood out to me.
Not able to rotate camera. This is more of an extension on the previous point, but it was such an annoying issue by itself that I felt it deserved its own spot. Project Hospital is a simulation game that only allows the player to view it from an isometric viewpoint. Granted, this is likely a design decision, but it makes playing the game an absolute pain at times. Even with the ability to hide walls and windows, I still found myself struggling with items that were hidden behind larger items, such as small plants or posters that were on the opposite wall of a cabinet. While building, I would sometimes have to shuffle around items just to see what I was doing in a room, something that would not be an issue if the game allowed the camera to be rotated. The isometric angle is not a problem in itself, it would just be so much easier on the player if the game could be viewed from all four isometric angles rather than just one.
Stuttering issue. When it comes to technical faults, there is one glaring issue that needs to be discussed: that of a severe stuttering issue. Every time my hospital grew past a certain point, I would start running into some really annoying stuttering every few seconds or so. It seemed to only happen when moving the camera around, with the stutters barely lasting a second at most, but enough to be noticed. This not only happened with every hospital I made, but did so rather early on, when the hospitals only had a few departments. As my hospitals got bigger, the stutters became more commonplace, enough so that I was tempted to stick with medium-size hospitals just to avoid the issue. I spent a lot of time trying to diagnose the issue, but was unable to find a solution, so hopefully this is something that can get patched up soon after release.
Campaign waiting times. While playing through the game’s campaign mode, I found that I spent more time waiting around than actually doing anything. For example, during the first campaign, I managed to clear all of the side-objectives pretty early on, enough so that all I had to do to finish the campaign was wait for enough money to pay off my debt. However, even at 3x game speed, I still had to wait an entire hour to meet that goal. In fact, I actually got up and left the game there while I went and got food, did laundry, etc. It really reminded me of the scenarios from the older RollerCoaster Tycoon games, where I had finished all of the objectives, but still had to wait for the entire time period to run its course in order to finish them up. This would not be so much a problem if the game had more speed controls, but 3x is as fast as it goes during the day. At night, the game allows the use of a “skip” button, which puts the game at 5x or so speed. I really wish this feature was also available during the day, as it would drastically cut down on the time spent waiting around. For now though, I will just stick with the game’s sandbox mode.
While Project Hospital may have some nice, in-depth simulation, it really is brought down by its many design and technical issues. From its many quality of life issues to its constant stuttering problem, the game simply has too many problems like this to warrant a recommendation. A shame really, as I quite liked the management aspects of the game.
You can buy Project Hospital on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.