Though initially looking like a way of cashing in on the nostalgia for Theme Hospital – not to mention the interest in the imminent arrival of Theme Hospital’s spiritual successor, Two Point Hospital, on the Switch – Help Me Doctor! isn’t a cartoony, medical profession-based strategy game.
Instead, it’s a game in which you’re given details of various silly diseases with even sillier symptoms – you’re tasked with correctly diagnosing patients, as well as checking that their documents are in order. Random events can occur, such as visits from a Ministry of Health inspector, that are liable to throw further spanners in the works. Incorrectly diagnose patients or fail to spot a dodgy signature and you’ll be fined.
It’s a bit like a medically-themed – rather than border control-focused – Papers, Please. It’s a bit wonky though; there’s so much repetition in the supposedly humourous symptoms and the jokes all fall pretty flat, to be honest – there’s a big reliance on fart jokes, but I also noticed a hint of misogyny in at least one of the medical problems that cropped up, which took me aback a bit. So it veers awkwardly between very childish reliance on flatulence and this attempt to be edgy – neither of which is funny. It doesn’t help that the English translation is pretty poor too; I’ve spotted a number of awkwardly translated or badly spelled words and phrases in my time playing the game.
Visually it has a very dated look too; there’s no charm to the character design or screen layout here, but it’s functional for the most part – when you know what you’re doing. It’s frustrating, however, that there’s not much of a tutorial to speak of; you’re just expected to know what to do, but the game doesn’t make it obvious at first. There’s a lot of trial and error involved when working out how not to get fined, which is very frustrating indeed.
Ultimately, it’s an admirable attempt to make a unique title, but it feels half finished; the lack of any meaningful explanation of the game’s mechanics is a glaring oversight. Consequently – and sadly – Help Me Doctor! is not a game I’d recommend purchasing. Unless it gets some sort of major overhaul (which is unlikely), this is one doctor I’d suggest staying away from.
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