Management titles feel like a niche that’s been squeezed even tighter over the years. The major developers have either been scattered to the wind and it leads to the older games seeing community-led support. From the remnants of Bullfrog, Two Point Studios have attempted to pick up where they left off. Their second title, Two Point Campus looks to bring their cheeky British charm towards the halls of academia.
Managing a University campus probably doesn’t sound that exciting on paper, in practice, there’s plenty of decisions to make about course offerings, dormitory standards and everything in between. Much like Two Point Hospital, plenty of interesting ways have been provided to spice up an potentially dull experience.
The controls feel responsive. I’m never entirely sure how developers will map a controller onto an interface more suitable to a mouse and keyboard. Thankfully, they do get there with the default mappings. The cursor moves smoothly and you have plenty of camera control. Zooming in for the finer details doesn’t come at a performance hit and, should things get hectic, there’s always the opportunity to pause or slow down time. It doesn’t feel like too much for my fingertips and the time manipulation does take some of the pressure off. It’s capable and does enough for the situations you’re given. For a bit more finesse, you can tweak sensitivity settings to your liking.
The campaign offers a dozen unique campuses to try your hand at managing. Unfortunately, the structure can feel a little rigid. Whilst there is a world map, much of it is locked away until you one-star the previous location. Even the sandbox mode becomes available once you’ve achieved that mark on the fourth level. Whilst it does ensure players have a strong grasp of the mechanics, it can feel like a lengthy obstacle in the way of a more free-form excursion.
Despite this, I do find Two Point Campus fun to play. Education is a seasonal thing and it allows downtime to build upon your hallowed grounds. The calendar doesn’t start rolling until you initiate the school year and I enjoy having that chance to get the place in order. Certain rooms become immediate necessities like dorms, bathrooms, staff rooms and vending machines. Keeping bins nearby prevents a mess building up.
It’s simple stuff but I find it engaging. Each level begins with an empty building and each room takes up a required amount of space. I find myself thinking about the available geography whilst trying not to cramp the halls up. I try to designate the bathrooms and showers together and keep the classrooms near lecture halls and private tuition rooms.
I feel the focus on happiness is aimed more at the students you nurture. They are effectively the cash flow of a university and more content students will provide bigger tuition fees. Providing a good environment is key and there’s plenty of ways to achieve it. The simplest option is to improve the existing facilities with windows and amenities like vending machines and stalls. Students can join clubs, make friends and everyone loves a party. It can get expensive but, if these kids are close to final exams, the boost in happiness can help churn out some straight-A students.
Finding that balance is half the fun and, whilst I do tend to overreach, the journey is still fun. Running close to budget and taking out loans can happen but they aren’t always a death sentence. The campaign does well enough to lead you through the key hoops. Each campus gives you a handy mentor that guides you through a handful of objectives.
It’s designed well and eases you into Two Point Campus‘ mechanics. You’re rated in stars and each level has three to gain. The first ones always feel like tutorials. Each new institution has it’s own speciality and each site has their own set of problems. They all feel different and introduce you to a dozen or so colleges that have some clever gimmicks. You’ll train knights, clowns, wizards, as well as the more mundane applicants.
I do find teething problems with the personal goals you get from students. These requests come frequently but they do seem random in what they will ask of you. They’re normally wanting special events or new items to spruce up the place. These optional objectives do give you something to do whilst the campus is ticking over and are beneficial to complete. Unfortunately, they do tend to ask you for items that have to be unlocked by a secondary currency, Kudosh. This is built up by completing the same kinds of objectives but I find it runs out all too quickly. Once these items are unlocked, they can be bought for cash. In the interim, I find the scramble for Kudosh to be a little monotonous.
There’s charm oozing from Two Point Campus‘ presentation. I’m not a big fan of the Aardman-style character design but there’s plenty of delightful animations that really give each student a great sense of personality. It all looks so fun with the courses putting some whimsy and wonder back into the academic experience. It’s lively and vibrant and does give a potentially dry premise plenty to catch your eye. There’s some smart writing for the character names, although I do find AI movements can be a little bothersome. Finding out your library assistant has wandered off is a regular occurrence and students can sometimes stop in place before really considering where to go next. Not fatal, but it does stifle the clockwork nature of the world they’ve built.
The radio chatter does an excellent job of maintaining a chipper atmosphere. Very cheeky and very British, it does well to deliver some laughs. It doesn’t always clue you in on happenings but it provides a pleasant background noise for the day-to-day management. The actual soundtrack stays fairly mellow and light. The music’s not really there to imply suspense and it fits cohesively with the light-hearted tone.
It’s a very likeable game with plenty to admire. Whilst the task of running a University can be stressful, the relaxed and playful tone really keep you from tearing your hair out. There’s a ton of charm and character to feast your eyes on and the lengthy campaign really does help showcase a stacked product. It’s a shame you have to jump through some hoops to unlock a true sandbox but there’s a mechanically sound, absorbing game in Two Point Campus.
+ Smart, cheeky writing.
+ Mechanically dense but eases you in gently.
+ Has a lengthy campaign to sink your teeth into.
- The campaign structure can sometimes feel restrictive.
- Some AI behaviours can frustrate.
- I'd prefer to have a sandbox available from the start.