Doctor Life review: a cutesy hospital with scarily real diseases
Iain Garner | On February 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm
It’s been many years but finally, Doctor Life for iOS has come to fill the hole Theme Hospital left in my heart. Doctor Life is the debut game by Malaysia-based Wigu Games Studio, and it’s as charming as it’s challenging.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover
The first thing I noticed about Doctor Life was its cutesy style. Great, I thought, a kids game. Boy was I wrong! Doctor Life may be cute, but it packs a punch and a learning curve that’s surprisingly steep for a mobile game. The gameplay is in two stages: during the day you treat patients, and at night you buy supplies and upgrade your hospital. Your goal is to win five medals and you prevent the “evil tycoon” (that’s how he introduces himself) from destroying your hospital.
Being a doctor isn’t easy.
Who would have thought that being a doctor could be so hard? When a patient arrives you need to diagnose them based on the information you have. You have four options: three possible diagnoses and “refer to another doctor.” If you select the wrong diagnosis you fail and the patient leaves annoyed, if you refer to another doctor you only get small amount of money and no fame. Initially this is simple stuff like in the picture below:
This young lady has a sprained ankle, so we move onto the treatment which is also simple: give her an ice pack and send her on her way. Being a doctor is easy!
Then suddenly you are dealing with “bloody stools,” “pus in urine” and “diarrhea.” Shit just got real! Within a few hours you will need to remember the difference between the symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia. Easier said than done! What’s worse, patients suffer from illnesses ranging from the common cold to urinary infections. It’s tough to remember it all, trust me.
The pressure is on
To make things worse the days are ridiculously short, meaning that you need to think fast. If you want to get the higher scores, you need to rack up a decent combo by treating patients in succession. One misdiagnosis or referral and you break the chain and limit your potential earnings.
Within an hour you will be diagnosing patients with only a glance at their symptoms, but a new disease is always just around the corner.
I only have one complaint about this system: too repetitive. Something needs to be added to break the monotony, whether it’s a flu epidemic or a serious case spontaneous vomiting. Variety is the spice of life and Doctor Life needs a little more flavor.
Building your hospital
You start of with a pretty small hospital but as you build more rooms your earning power and fame increase. Rooms have different effects on the hospital; some allow you access to more detailed information, some provide you with free equipment, and some increase the time the hospital can remain open. Within a few days your hospital will become a sprawling metropolis, complete with nurses and security guards.
Unfortunately the patients are too annoying and its difficult to want to help them. They just will not stay still! They wander around the hospital like lost kittens and not even in areas that they should be in. Can anyone explain to me why there is a woman with broken legs hopping around my generator room? Does this hospital have no locks?
As the hospital gets bigger it becomes easy miss patients entirely. There have been several times when the first time I see a patient is as they walk angrily toward the door after waiting too long. Has no one told these twits what the damn waiting room is for?
The biggest problem with the building system is the same as the treatment: monotony. It would be a great if the developers could add some hospital management systems. Adding ongoing costs, repairs, hiring and firing, would make it easier to maintain interest as the hospital grows.
I really enjoy Doctor Life and I suspect its going to be one of my go-to games for a while, but it is not perfect. There are a few additions that would make the game much, much easier. One of them is a list of known diseases that you can check during the day, because sometimes I am completely stumped. I mean did you know that stomach flu gave you bloody stools? I do now, but I didn’t at the time.
Doctor Life will be available on February 20, 2014 for iOS only and for the $2.99 price, it’s well worth a try.