Monster Hospital (iOS) review

Monster Hospital is a new iOS game from Beeline Interactive. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases of the in-game “vitamins” currency available.

Monster Hospital’s isometric perspective and cute graphics initially make it appear that this is going to be yet another in the very long line of simple “business sims” available on mobile platforms, but in actual fact, the game is more of a time management game somewhat akin to PlayFirst’s popular “Dash” series of games.

The player is cast in the role of a new investor in an ailing monster hospital, which is set to close its doors if it cannot become profitable shortly. It is up to the player to ensure that the hospital runs smoothly and efficiently, and to upgrade its facilities and staff when profits allow.

The main bulk of gameplay revolves around responding to various humorous “emergencies.” Three difficulty levels are available at any time, with increasingly-large rewards on offer for tackling harder challenges.

To respond to an emergency, players must treat a certain number of monsters before a time limit expires. Treatment is accomplished by moving incoming monsters from the waiting line to triage, then to a diagnosis machine, then a treatment machine, then a recovery bed, then the exit line. Each stage takes varying amounts of time to complete, though monsters may be “rushed” through a stage by expending the game’s special “vitamins” currency. Some of these stages also require that the monster be tapped on once or more during the process to keep things moving along.

When a monster exits, the player is awarded with progress points, which contribute to a four-star rating for the emergency in the corner of the screen. More points are earned if the monster leaves the hospital with a “full health” rating of four hearts. Hearts decline over time if the monster is not dealt with, and they will simply get up and leave if their health runs out rather than die. Health may, however, be restored by providing monsters with a bottle of “Ciderade” from a machine in the hospital. The Ciderade machine only has a limited stock, however — when it runs out, the player must manually restock it at a rate of one bottle every few minutes, or immediately fill it back up to ten bottles with the expenditure of vitamins.

Between emergencies, the player has the opportunity to play a chance-based “spinner” game, which provides them with the potential to earn new staff members and collectible items. Both of these contribute to bonuses and help the player’s hospital run more efficiently. The more monsters a player has treated, the more the hospital “levels up,” too, and a higher hospital level unlocks a wider variety of upgrade options for machinery, staff and the hospital premises itself.

Monster Hospital is a fun, frantic game that is particularly worthy of praise for not following the herd and making a predictable isometric-perspective “sim” game. Its gameplay is entertaining and challenging, the whole experience is packed with character and humor that doesn’t feel overly-forced or condescending, and the free-to-play elements are not too obtrusive. It’s hardly revolutionary or original, but it is a good mobile game — simple to understand, hard to master, plenty of content to keep players busy during quiet moments. The only thing really lacking is some sort of social play — the game does not support Game Center and features no achievements, leaderboards or other forms of competitive and collaborative play.

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A fun game that isn’t what it initially appears to be.