Operate Now: Hospital is a game that doesn’t just let you slice up patients and pull bits of metal out of their hideously mangled bodies. It gives you full reign over the running of the hospital as well. It’s not all scalpels and antiseptic gels you know?
The end result is a bit of a mishmash of ideas. You’re upgrading your building, hiring new staff, and trying to keep everyone working in the hospital reasonably happy and relaxed. Then you’ll need to scrub up and sort out a kid’s broken leg.
Not everything here works, but there’s a decent amount of entertainment to be sucked out of the experience. So long as you don’t mind waiting around sometimes, and you understand that a surgeon’s job isn’t just surgery. A good 60 percent of it is base building and resource collecting, albeit in a hospital gown disguise.
It’s hard to say which of the two parts of the game is the real core of the experience. When you’re in surgery, the game follows a pretty standard formula. You’re looking at a gory-ish mess of shattered bones or tattered flesh, and using the instruments at your disposal to sort everything out. There are guidelines on the screen so you know where to cut and clean, but the game slowly but surely stops holding your hand. You need to remember which tool does what, and make sure that you’re using them in the right way. Careful cuts, sensible use of the laser and applicator are all key to making sure you don’t use any patients.
There are time limits and heart rates to keep an eye on as well. Making mistakes doesn’t just put your patient in danger, it also loses you reputation points. These are basically XP, and the more you get the more rewards you unlock. Turns out being a surgeons involves a decent amount of precision and making people think you’re not going to kill them accidentally.
Elsewhere in the hospital there’s a cast of characters. They’re all always arguing or having problems, and it’s this narrative that pushes the rest of the game along. You’re building new rooms to keep people happy and increase the capacity of your hospital. Quite how you can start a health care center without a reception, a ward or an operating theater is beyond me, but there you go.
You need to assign people to the different rooms you’re building and complete the quests that the game gives you. Build an ambulance bay, send another surgeon off to perform an operation, that sort of thing. You can rush through these by spending some of the gold hearts you earn from playing or paying. Again, everything meanders along in a predictable fashion. You’re basically doing what the game tells you to do, and it won’t offer up new challenges until you’ve completed all the ones that it’s set you. More casual players will be happy with that, but if you prefer some say over what you’re doing you’re going to be a little frustrated.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a surgery experience that doesn’t really ask too much of you, you’re going to find a lot to like here. The game might be slow paced, but it doesn’t really rush you to get anywhere, either. There are more difficult experiences out there, and ones that don’t split their attention between building up your workplace and your career, but there’s still a nice pace to Operate Now: Hospital that should keep fans of the genre happy enough.
Operate Now: Hospital isn’t the sort of game that’s setting out to reinvent anything. It’s well put together, it looks good, and there’s enough going on to keep you interested. Don’t expect it to surprise you and you’ll have a lovely old time lasering polyps and hiring new nurses.