Galacticare review

by on May 20, 2024
Release Date

May 20, 2024


I would imagine running a hospital is fairly tricky. Organising the doctors, nurses, and various specialists, controlling the budget, finding somewhere for the bodies that inevitably pile up and cause a bad smell. It must be pretty taxing – and that’s just a normal hospital with normal humans in it. Imagine running a hospital in space (although at least you could just toss all the bodies into the nearest sun). That’s the premise of Galacticare, a hospital management sim with a bit of a difference from Brightrock Games.

In Galacticare, you are the Director, tasked with running not just one but multiple hospitals around the galaxy – though thankfully not all at the same time. You’re in charge of everything from hiring professionals to where to hang the wall art, but thanks to Galacticare’s laidback design you can get as involved as you like with the minutiae. For example I played four full story missions at around an hour to 90 minutes each before I even looked at the finance screen.


For some, this will be a bit of a red flag. Galacticare is pretty forgiving with its systems, so anyone looking for a meaty challenge might be disappointed early on. This is a game more concerned with keeping you busy than stressing you out. You even have three helpers to ensure that you remain focused and informed. The first is HEAL, a snarky AI that infuses the entire experience with dry British humour. It’s his role to keep you up to date with everything that happens, from new patients to pest infestations. Then there’s Dr Orion, who fills you in on the multiple alien species you have to treat, as well as their ailments. She’ll also introduce you to new rooms and treatments for your hospital. And finally there’s Medi, a medibot drone who exists to ask the questions you can’t ask and to be berated ruthlessly by HEAL.

Galacticare is a funny game. It won’t often make you laugh out loud but you’re never more than a few minutes from a sarcastic quip, double entendre, or oddball character. Each mission sees you opening and running a new hospital in another part of the galaxy, dealing with various themes. One is in orbit around a concert venue on a burning moon, another is set up around an interstellar railway line. There’s a lot of imagination at work, and even though you’re largely doing the same thing from mission to mission there’s a decent variety of characters and situations.


Most objectives feel quite similar though. Generally speaking, you’ll get an influx of patients with various illnesses and you’ll need to get them to the reception desk, the Diagnosis Room, and then to whichever treatment room they need before they die. You don’t have direct control, so the onus is on making everywhere accessible and ensuring you have multiple rooms for each ailment, as well as highly trained doctors, to reduce queue times. There are various bizarre illnesses like Metalhead (patients literally grow metal on their skin), and Festicrosis, which rots them alive. Treatments range from the odd to the downright bizarre, too. One of them is a “Doctopus tank”, where a giant octopus does… something that might be better left to the imagination; another rips out their bones and 3D prints new ones right into their bodies; yet another strips off their skin and replaces it.

Occasionally things go wrong, and it’s here that the morbid twelve-year-old in me wishes it was just a little more gruesome now and then. But Galacticare is a fairly bloodless affair considering how your patients are treated, and you’ll spend more time mopping puke and removing pests than picking bits of bone out of the doorframes. Instead, when things go wrong you just plonk a medibot near it and go to lunch. Bodies are removed with little fuss, leaving just a translucent grave marker. Again though, you won’t really care when a patient dies because you’ll be rolling in dosh and absolutely mobbed with the sick and needy anyway.


Ostensibly your job is to keep everyone not dead, but in reality it’s to keep everyone not pissed-off. You’ll need to keep the place clean, hang decorations, manage queues. Your doctors will need a staff room for when they’re feeling lazy, and a training room so they can justify the pay rise they’re constantly looking for. At times it feels like you’re not really directing anything, and you’re just some kind of omnipotent janitor cleaning up sick with one hand and massaging fragile egos with the other. When one of them snarks at you for daring to click on them, you’ll be begging for an Dungeon Keeper-style slap mechanic to put them back in their place.

Because that’s what Galacticare more closely resembles: Dungeon Keeper, or maybe Evil Genius 2. You have to clear out rooms to expand your hospital, harvest gold (well, earn space dollars), and deal with invasions, which in this case are invasions of alien bugs that make everyone chunder on contact. A dossier helps you learn more about each illness and all the alien races that come to you for help, giving you the tools to combat whatever you may face – but really there’s little here that’s overly taxing. Some objectives are timed, but it doesn’t matter. The timer has to be generous because the game knows you have little control besides assigning something as a “priority”, which does bugger all. A lot of time in Galacticare is spent waiting for the AI to pull its head out of its arse and take your little patients and medibots to where they’re supposed to be.


And this is the central dilemma with Galacticare: it’s just not as hard or as frantic as it needs to be. I’ve played management sims where taking your eye off the ball for a few seconds can cause a waterfall of issues, where you’re constantly zipping back and forth between objectives. In Galacticare I was going off to make cups of tea or have a wee then coming back to everything just as I left it. Maybe that’s the appeal, but it often felt at odds with the narrative it was pushing.

Yet, Galacticare is so incredibly likeable that I found myself hooked regardless. It’s genuinely funny and has some great ideas, like Baz the hippy, trippy space whale who pops by to sell you stuff now and then. There’s also a lot going on, even if it is ultimately pretty easy to just, well, manage it all. Everything about the game is pleasant, from the gentle music to the cartoony visuals, and the world it builds is fun to exist in. It won’t be enough of a challenge for some people, but for everyone else it’s a simple, imaginative management sim with a lot of personality. And really, what more do you need?


Genuinely funny
Simple to understand
Good mission structure


Sometimes a little too passive
Objectives don't change much

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Galacticare is a simple, imaginative management sim with a lot of personality. And really, what more do you need?