Two Point Campus continues in the already impressive footsteps of Two Point Hospital before it, dressing up an engaging business management sim in goofy irreverence. To be honest, its dorky, oddball sense of humor misses me more often than it hits. But that all fades into the background for the most part when I’m having a blast laying out my new library, planning out dorms, and throwing sweet parties in the student union.
Most of the time you’ll be juggling your budget, student happiness, and the space requirements of running a university. It’s similar to Two Point Hospital in that last regard – making the best of annoying geometry to cram in an extra lecture theater or much-needed bathroom put my mental Tetris skills to the test, and often forced me to abandon the idea of a perfect layout in the interest of a functional one. That can sometimes get tiresome, but it’s also not really an issue later on when you get some bigger plots and the ability to make buildings whatever shape you want. So by the time it had overstayed its welcome, I was given the much appreciated freedom not to deal with it anymore.
Two Point Campus – Launch Screens
The Sandbox mode is where Two Point Campus really shines, letting you loose to build the school of your dreams on any of the 12 different themed plots. Some are outright wacky, like a spy school that uses a burger joint as a cover. Others are a bit more vanilla, like an Oxford-inspired campus in the faux-English countryside. And the same goes for the courses available, with everything from General Knowledge to actual Knight School – yes, that’s Knight with a K. So you can kind of adjust your level of silliness to your preference, which is nice.
Each campus is introduced through a story-driven scenario that includes its own special rules. I definitely liked some of these more than others. Funding my university entirely on plundered artifacts from an archaeological dig has a bit of an, “Are we the baddies?” vibe, but I found it entertaining. On the other hand, running a parody of a SoCal party school where my entire budget was based on how much fun the students were having became mechanically tedious pretty quickly due to the extremely small profit margins and low return on investment for all the expensive amenities I provided.
You only have to clear five of these to unlock all 12 maps in sandbox mode, though. So if you’re just not feeling the scenario objectives, they’re easy enough to ignore. And once outside the bounds of the campaign, I enjoyed how progression works. Adding more facilities and staff, as well as leveling up your various rooms by adding decorations and more learning opportunities, will level up the whole university and provide more course points and “Kudosh,” a special currency that unlocks more cosmetic options and ploppable doodads. Course points can be spent to add new programs or expand existing ones, and that creates a rewarding feeling of going from a dingy backup school to a thriving university.
Not all courses are built the same, either. The aforementioned Archaeology program lets you dig up artifacts that can be put on display to raise your campus’ prestige, or sold to pad out your budget. Academic Exercise revolves around the sport of Cheeseball, where you can schedule games against rival schools and compete for glory. Not every course has its own minigame like this, but the ones that do effectively let you be more hands-on during a school year and create extra, thematic goals to strive for.
The more nitty-gritty campus management aspects can be a bit frustrating, though. While the UI is legible and organized, it’s sometimes hard to quickly find information I’d really like access to, like why a particular student has low grades. The Advice screen is very helpful in this regard, since it usually tells you what your biggest problems are in plain language. But it doesn’t really help you understand how the systems work to allow you to spot those problems intuitively in the future. There are also a number of things I wish had tooltips that don’t for some reason, like the Academic Overview. Overlays for all the various happiness and comfort factors are great, but again, they don’t necessarily help you figure out why a problem exists – only that there is one.
The visual style of Two Point Campus is almost identical to Two Point Hospital, and it’s one that makes everything very readable. It’s also not exactly my vibe, though. Just like the humor often doesn’t do it for me, rarely rising above what you’d find in a kids’ joke book, the stylized and whimsical models and animations seem a bit like a playset you’d find in the Early Childhood section of a toy store. I don’t need every game I play to look like a photorealistic, ray-traced military simulator, but I’m just not charmed by this particular aesthetic either.
The theming of the various maps, on the other hand, does get me excited. Being able to have a knight school inside of an actual castle is pretty rad. There’s enough diversity that whatever kind of university you can imagine, there’s probably a plot that fits it well. I wish there were some more carpet and wallpaper options for some rooms, and the lack of the ability to make slanted or curved buildings is a little bit limiting. But the grid helps keep things simple and modular as well, so it’s a trade-off. And I do enjoy personalizing everything with posters, landscaping, and statues.