June 17, 2024
Is Galacticare a shameless Two Point imitator or does it form its own unique diagnosis? The Finger Guns review:

Two Point Hospital and Campus are delightful little games, aren’t they? They were a wonderfully eclectic mix of management and building gameplay glued together with silly humour and cartoon presentation. Both entries formed something of their own niche, riding the wave of nostalgia from the now ancient Theme Hospital. Of course, when a revival is successful, there’ll be imitators. Which is where we can introduce Galacticare.

If we’re being reductionist about it, it’s Two Point, but in space. Like how Moving Out was Overcooked, but with launching couches instead of tomatoes. Having only worked on War For The Overlord previously, were Brightrock Games up to the task of channeling the wacky, zany greatness of Two Point?

Strap down those alien tentacles and get your atmospheric apparatus ready, these aliens ain’t gonna save themselves.

The Milky (Medical) Bay

If you’re an old hand with strategy management scalpels, you’ll feel right at home on Galacticare’s wards. Should you be an intern, donning your scrubs for the first time, you’ll be welcomed right in too. Galacticare makes sure to teach you all of the basics and get you up to speed. It’s a slow start for established managers, but a welcome one for newbies.

The gameplay formula is as tried-and-tested as you would expect. You spend your time constructing various treatment rooms to aid your alien patients’ comical ailments. Hiring staff, maximising space, placing decorations to make your hospital pretty, all the usual trimmings. Some games of this ilk are incredibly micro-managing in nature, but Galacticare takes the more relaxed Two Point approach, instead.

Which works to its favour. The setting and characters lend itself to a more relaxed atmosphere. I will say that Galacticare is probably less challenging than Two Point Hospital. The conditions for failure (i.e being in debt) feel far more forgiving. You can also dig your way out of a bad spot much more optimistically than some of Two Point’s more brutal scenarios.

There’s a wealth of creative rooms to learn how to manage and the trick to each of the 11 chapters is tracking what diseases are more prominent. It never really felt too complex or like I had to be on the ball, but it never became tiring or boring either, strangely. Galacticare falls into that pleasant middle ground of having something to think about, without the pressures of melting your brain in chaos.

Galacticare review

The Shrink or The Shrink Ray?

Galacticare’s gameplay depth never felt overly demanding as a result, but this wasn’t to the game’s detriment. This is largely in part to the amusingly unique style that permeates through every hospital you manage. On one chapter, you’re curing “ultraburn” suffered by overly enthusiastic galactic festival go-ers. On another, you’re taking on “Salazon” – a corporate numbskull voiced akin to Matt Berry – as you compete for patients.

This is Hospital Tycoon in space, so you’d hope the eccentricity would be ratcheted up higher than the lasers used to singe your decaying DNA. Objectives tend to be simple in nature, but achieving them takes time and thought-out execution. A couple of levels do drag on a little, but most are completed within an hour. Of course, reaching a 5* rating on each will take longer, but the requirements are mostly reasonable.

One or two chapters seem to have some issues. For example, a prison complex level, where you rely on clones instead of being able to hire staff, seems completely bottle-necked. Once you’ve finished the mission, staying behind to get 5* is almost impossible, given that patients simply won’t spawn at the rate required to hit the treatment metric.

Small problems like this do crop up occasionally, and they’ll make life a bit frustrating for completionists like myself. However, the moment-to-moment gameplay loop and creativity of what’s happening on screen makes up for the majority of this. Like a good stitch, it shouldn’t take too much agony to patch up the niggling wounds post-launch.

Galacticare review

Doctor To Area 51

Completing levels and hitting 5* ratings will unlock various new items to spruce up your budding medical facility. You’ll also gain access to consultants – specialist alien characters you’ll meet through the campaign. Consultants can work in any room to maximum efficiency and even have a skill tree comprising buffs that can be unlocked.

A fun wrinkle Galacticare introduces is the different species of extraterrestrial you’ll encounter as both hirable doctors and patients. One species may require spacious rooms, owing to their larger frames, while another may be obsessed with toilets (despite not even requiring them). Towards the backend of the campaign, you’ll be needing to design hospitals with all of their preferences in mind, which is good fun.

These additional layers kept Galacticare interesting for me throughout. It’s easy to setup templates for rooms and once you’ve made a couple of well-functioning hospitals, you can mostly repeat that process to success. But keeping your various species of professionals placated is engaging. It’s like a daycare center, only instead of dogs its wildly varied creatures from outer space that handle medical railguns and use Dr. Octopus arms.

Along the way, you’ll unlock new cosmetic items for your medibots (maintenance crew) and hospitals. It’s not life-changing surgery, but it means you can add a sparkling shine and customise the look of your buildings. Unlike most older Hollywood actors, the cosmetic alterations are a natural fit and add a nice flavour to the visuals.

Galacticare review

A Warm Atmosphere

Speaking of looks, Galacticare is a charming title when it comes to graphics. It has that slightly lower budget rough-around-the-edges jaggedness to some textures, but the overall look is really wonderful. Character models for the alien species are genuinely unique and fun. Much like Two Point, there’s a serene delightfulness about the animations for the various ailments your poor patients suffer.

Then there’s the treatment rooms. You may be forgiven for thinking this is some torturous house of madness, owing to the lasers, mechanical nightmares and pulsing electrodes of the… “procedures”. All above board, definitely regulated and recommended, for sure. Each is a delight to gaze over and appreciate, even if your patient probably isn’t thanking you.

It’s the kind of thing Dr. House would appreciate – it treats the patient, even if the methods are, most definitely, overzealous. Much like House as well, Galacticare is prone to some unreliability and instability. When your hospital starts filling up towards 4-5 stars, the game’s engine will struggle to keep up. Slowdown can permeate through almost every action and the framerate will stutter a fair amount.

It’s worth acknowledging that for games of this ilk, these problems are relatively common. Galacticare is no exception, and it only really factors in towards the end of levels. For 75% of your game time, it’s smooth sailing, but the issues are apparent once your hospital is developed. Thankfully, there’s no real bugs or crashes, and the game even handily points out when an alien has managed to escape the confines of the geometry. Which, you know, is pretty handy.

Galacticare reviw

The Level Of Care Is Out Of This World

Galacticare comes packaged with 11 campaign chapters and a handful of smaller side levels. It’ll take anywhere between 10 and 20 hours to complete, depending on if you breeze the objectives or go for full completion. Whether that’s enticing enough for you, will likely depend on the price and your enjoyment of hospital management sims.

I enjoyed the heck out of it. The humour in the writing had me burst out laughing more than Jeff Bezos seeing his profit reports. I’m also now acutely aware of just how immature I remain, as my audible cackle when the narrator declared the “Boning room” as being available (they knew what they were doing) was loud. Galacticare is a silly game with irreverent humour, but it works supremely well. At least, it did for me.

There are some problems, whether it be the slowdown when things get busy or the potential lack of mechanical depth for experienced players. However, my lasting impression of Galacticare is the smile it kept on my face while I played. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you chuckle, and it’ll make you want to keep playing to see what other nonsense it can spew out.

It doesn’t have the production values of a Two Point game and its depth is lacking compared to Hospital Tycoon. Even so, the razor sharp writing and humour will cut deeper than your surgeon’s scalpel. Galacticare is good old fashioned video game fun, and so I’d recommend it, warts and all.

While Galacticare initially appears to be a mere Two Point clone, it has its own unique and hilarious personality. The gameplay is solid and worthy of merit, even as a more relaxed and forgiving management simulator. It has blemishes in the shape of performance slowdown and occasional completionist bottleneck, but this is a steady surgeon, even if the flailing tentacles suggest otherwise.

Galacticare is available May 23rd on PlayStation 5 (review platform), Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Developer: Brightrock Games
Publisher: CULT Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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