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Galacticare Review

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Theme Hospital held a special place in the hearts of many as one of the best sims for years after its release. But then, Two Point Studios came along and set new standards for hospital-based simulation games with Two Point Hospital – a spiritual successor to the aforementioned classic. Now though, there’s a brand new contender to the throne, from developers Brightrock Games, in the form of intergalactic hospital sim Galacticare.

Are you going to be in for an out of this world experience courtesy of Galacticare, or would you be better off in a galaxy far, far, away?

Galacticare review 1
Take charge in Galacticare

Welcome to Galacticare, the interstellar healthcare company where you’re thrust into the position of the Director. The higher-ups, like CEO Ms. Orion, want you to handle the management side of running a hospital, with the hope of raking in a ton of currency from the sickest beings across the solar system. And making them healthy again, of course, it’s not ALL about the money. With an AI Executive Assistant named HEAL ready to guide you through it, the galaxy awaits its new saviour.

The Orientation chapter, the first of eleven campaign levels, introduces the basics of managing a healthcare facility. Immediately after getting a grip on the very intuitive control setup, you’ll realise this really is going to be a futuristic and otherworldly experience. Robots will operate check-in procedures, diagnostics are performed using drones, and maintenance bots do everything a janitor would. Eventually there are telepads to transport folks around, the ability to clone, and a way to artificially boost incoming traffic. It’s very high tech.

Obviously, there are less exciting things to put in place too such as benches, wall art, and floor signs to add a bit of character to the surroundings. Oh, and toilets of course, because you don’t want the floors to be covered in bodily excretions, again. Whatever the chosen object, everything is straightforward to build, rotate and manoeuvre, allowing you to focus more on the job at hand.

Before opening the doors to the galaxy though, Galacticare doctors are required to be stationed within the treatment rooms. I like the little differences between them, which are highlighted in the hiring menu. Decisions have to be weighed up including cost, whether they’re a specialist, and if their personality trait is a good fit. Dealing with a litter bug or someone who’s ‘a bit thick’ is much better than having a literal psychopath on your books. What I will say though is that the doctor’s ability doesn’t have a noticeable benefit and that’s a slight disappointment.

Nevertheless, once you’re ready to open up, the patients roll in from across the galaxy and you must cure their ailments to earn credits. You’re not treating the flu, sickness, or any other familiar disease however, so prepare for a cavalcade of bizarre problems. The Aroma Borealis sufferers kick up a right old stink, the Photonymph parasite shines through the stomach of its host, and Jellification gives patients a bit of a wobble. The medical conditions are often silly and weird, with plenty of unimaginable problems to intrigue your mind.

Galacticare review 3
There’s a lot going on in Galacticare

Even the treatment rooms are utterly bonkers. Who would sign up for a blast in the face by the Projectile Medicine equipment, or an acid bath in the Skin Lab? Nobody willingly, but that’s the kind of stuff they do at Galacticare. A personal favourite is the Boning Chamber, which pulverises broken bones before 3D printing brand new ones. As more unfamiliar conditions are unearthed, new rooms are unlocked to deal with them.

Your actual objectives to achieve will differ across the eleven chapters, but whatever the task is, it’s always related to the scenario you are in. Take the Burning Moon level as an example, where the facility is located near a music festival and when performers fall ill, you must fix them swiftly. The ideas are interesting and bring in many characters to ensure some narrative is in place. Also, the voiceovers are terrific and it’s a constant pleasure to hear the conversations play out between them.

Through completing the main goals of levels, they’ll each become open-ended sandboxes for you to continue with. Garnering five stars for having a perfect hospital and reaping the rewards is the ultimate aim, but it actually pays off in other ways. Researching conditions improves the treatment efficiency, which carries over to other scenarios. Another permanent addition for future use are the consultants, who join your crew at certain junctures. They’ve got skill trees to upgrade and special abilities that could prove handy.

While intergalactic healthcare is fascinating and full of surprises, there are downsides to proceedings. No matter how much variety the scenarios eventually conjure up, starting off chapters with an empty husk of a hospital setting is a bore. From rooms to decorative pieces, you’ll have to kit everything out again, which becomes repetitive. You can save templates for future use, but this only slightly alleviates the irksome beginnings. It would be more satisfying if some scenarios let you fix or improve an existing hospital, for a bit of a change.

Additionally, and much like the staff in Two Point Hospital, the doctors here have a tendency to slack off and behave idiotically. Even with an abundance of them, rooms are often left unattended when there are patients waiting for treatment. They won’t worry about the wobbly human at death’s door, no it’s fine, it’s much better to wander the corridors aimlessly or fill their face at the vending machines instead.

Galacticare review 2
You know the drill…

My only other noteworthy negative is in regards to trying to keep all the distinct sentiments happy within your healthcare environment. Different races prefer to cast their eyes on different things, which can include various decoration types, spacious areas, and even toilets – yes, the Vizarj species have a lavatory fetish apparently. Pleasing everyone, all of the time, requires a lot of little tweaks and it’s a necessary evil to achieve the highest hospital rating of five stars, but my god it’s a pain in the arse. In fact, it’s one of few challenges in a rather easygoing game.

Ultimately then, Galacticare is an intergalactic powerhouse that’s full of weird and wonderful concepts. The campaign delivers unimaginable scenarios with great narrative moments to keep you engaged. With new ideas constantly being introduced, it’s always fun to see what bizarre species, creature, or object is coming next. If only you weren’t presented with empty canvases to fill and given dummies as doctors, then the allure would last even longer.

A trip to Galacticare is certainly something you should prepare for, because my professional diagnosis is that it’s a very good hospital sim.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Space hospital brings weird clients, diseases and treatments
  • Constantly introduces new ideas
  • Easy to learn and intuitive controls
  • Bonkers scenarios with excellent voice acting
Cons:
  • Too many blank canvases
  • Idiotic doctors and hard to please species
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Cult Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 23 May 2024 | £24.99
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Space hospital brings weird clients, diseases and treatments</li> <li>Constantly introduces new ideas</li> <li>Easy to learn and intuitive controls</li> <li>Bonkers scenarios with excellent voice acting</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Too many blank canvases</li> <li>Idiotic doctors and hard to please species</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Cult Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 23 May 2024 | £24.99</li> </ul>Galacticare Review
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