Two Point Campus is the most fun you can have running a university. Granted, it doesn’t have a lot of competition, and running a real-life college sounds like a hassle. Nonetheless, the statement holds. Two Point Studios has crafted a fun, funny, and addicting college management simulation to which you can easily lose dozens of hours of your life.
Immersed in a Feel-Good World
As far as cartoonish management sims go, Two Point Campus is a charming and beautiful game on a PC with decent specs. The color palette is vibrant, and buildings have different themes according to the starting campus (of which there are 12, and each is treated as its own level to solve at three escalating levels of management complexity). In turn, there is a huge variety of different objects to place, including normal school items and also items pertaining to the many unorthodox majors offered at your university.
If your school trains knights and wizards, then you will set up huge, full-blown jousts for your knights and giant cauldrons for your wizards to perform magic. Or maybe your school is set in the equivalent of South American ruins, where your archaeology students will be excavating a UFO from the dirt and putting it on display. Discovering just how weird the course selection is ultimately becomes part of the fun, and there are some slight mechanical differences between each course, such as setting up sporting events if your students are majoring in sports. (No, it doesn’t make sense that you can major in playing sports, but again — that’s part of the fun of Two Point Campus.)
All of the people in the game are basically shaped like Gumby with rubber limbs and no sexual dimorphism to speak for, and for some reason that bothered me a bit. But the animation is stellar, and every single character is bursting with life, which makes it pretty easy to take fun screenshots in Photo Mode. Likewise, all of the writing and voice acting in the game is high-quality and really funny. From the English lady who makes school announcements to the various fictional radio hosts, Two Point Campus is jam-packed with screwball humor that, for the most part, I really didn’t mind hearing repeated over time.
And to top it all off, the soundtrack is a total delight. It’s full of upbeat licensed music that just makes you feel good. That’s important for keeping a player engaged for hours at a time with the simulation. Perhaps the soundtrack could benefit from having a few more songs, but it’s a trivial niggle.
Managing a School Isn’t Easy
Two Point Campus comes with a definite learning curve, both in terms of mechanics and just learning how to navigate the many, many menus. For the latter, I want to say Two Point Studios has actually improved the UI somewhat since when I first previewed the game, in that menu restrictions on how to place items don’t feel quite as severe as I remember them being. Nonetheless, the menus still pile up, and sometimes opening one menu will close another menu that you wish were still open. However, it’s pretty manageable with time and practice.
Each of the game’s 12 levels doles out new mechanics, often pertaining to a new major offered for students at a given campus, and Two Point Campus does a pretty good job of coaching you through the core elements with tutorials in the early game. First, you build essential rooms for your school, like dorms, major-specific classrooms, bathrooms, and a staff room. Then you hire teachers, assistants, and janitors to run it all. And then you invite in the students, whose wants and needs will take over your life and dictate how you further develop your school.
The complexities naturally mount with time. You will want to build a training room to teach your staff new types of knowledge (They can have up to three competencies.) or level up the knowledge they already have to make them more effective. You’ll also want a research room to research and unlock brand new types of items, as well as unlock the ability to upgrade certain items you already have. Maybe you want a marketing room in order to attract additional students to your campus. And then of course there are rooms that effectively function as infirmaries, counseling centers, and private tutoring rooms — all of which are necessary to keep students healthy, happy, and maintaining good grades.
While you’re doing all of this, Two Point Campus will be dictating its own overarching goals for you to achieve, and students will simultaneously be coming to you with individual desires. For the former, you might be tasked with maintaining a certain grade point average among students and making certain achievements within a given major. For the latter, students might ask you to throw a party in the student lounge or to buy a romantic park bench for dates. Fulfilling student requests earns you bonus money, and there is also a separate currency to earn that is used to unlock new types of items. It would take many dozens of hours to unlock all items and complete all of the game’s challenges, which is probably good news to management sim junkies.
Ultimately, the visual and mechanical variety of the different majors keeps the main campaign from getting stale, though it did lose a bit of magic with time, as I found myself applying some of the same basic management formulas to multiple situations. Of course, if you want, you can ignore the campaign altogether and just play in Sandbox mode, which lets you select or totally customize your starting parameters and then begin your journey.
Sandbox still offers challenges on how to “rank up” your campus, but it’s more open-ended in that you have total freedom of course selection. It annoyed me that you don’t always start with a totally empty campus though; sometimes it starts you off with some things already there, and it’s a hassle to sell it all and throw it out to make room for your vision. Nonetheless, Sandbox is yet another way that Two Point Campus can eat up your life.
The game is just uniformly fun, even when there are small quirks to deal with. For instance, as I mentioned in the preview, it’s not always as clear as it could be which items are going to really help a room be more effective and to what degree they will help. I would just plaster posters and rugs all over individual rooms to level them up, for instance. Additionally, with some exceptions, it’s strange how you collect monthly tuition and your only bills include staffing expenses and paying off loans you might have taken out. The lack of utility bills, for instance, keeps this from feeling like a completely hardcore management sim, which can be viewed as both a good and bad thing.
The Review Verdict on Two Point Campus
If you enjoy management sims, there’s no reason not to play Two Point Campus. This is an overall robust and utterly charming experience, both visually and mechanically. The UI isn’t perfect by any means, and it takes patience to overcome the sizable learning curve. But this is still a fairly accessible game regardless of previous experience with management sims. Two Point Campus exists alongside The Sims as a vibrant and attractive gateway to a complex genre.
A PC (Steam) review code for Two Point Campus was provided by the publisher.