As a kid growing up on a budget, I always loved the implementation of fantasy tycoon games: the chance to cash in on quirky business schemes like theme parks, restaurants, and aquariums. It’s always been satisfying to start with an empty lot and then build the foundation of a business on top of it, tweaking small details like paint colors, furniture layouts, and sidewalks along the way.
But the genre’s bubblegum aesthetic often masks a darker side – one that puts profit before people. Recent big-budget entries eschew subtlety altogether, cashing in on oppressive industries like prisons, drug manufacturing, and even cartel operations. I’m sure these games are fun in their own right, but I’m not interested in pursuing the fantasy of generating capital with these systems.
That’s why Two Point Campus, the sequel to the popular business management sim Two Point Hospital, feels so refreshing. You want to invest in huge universities and colleges to attract students worldwide, but you need to put people first if you want to make a profit.
Between screening qualified professors, hiring janitors to maintain the premises, and expanding the indoor and outdoor spaces of your campus, you’re investing in, well, less than regular curriculum. No, there are no math courses or language options in this game. Instead, campuses host classes that focus on ridiculous subjects like chivalry and chivalry, sorcery, and how to become a spy agent. Even typical themes like gastronomy or athletics are hyped up with eye-catching attractions like car-sized hamburgers and cheese-based sports. Two Point is full of surprises and even more laughs, and I love discovering its clever twists on science throughout its 12-level campaign.
However, don’t be fooled by this quirky portrayal of college life. There are many challenges on campus that require strategic thinking to overcome. Every student has certain traits and personalities, and they drop out when you don’t meet their needs. The only way to achieve the campus ratings you need to succeed is to create an education-ready environment that supports the management of systems such as hygiene, hunger, entertainment, social interaction, campus attractiveness, and in some cases external factors such as extreme temperatures.
Some students might be great at learning, but poor hygiene will lower your school’s rating if you don’t provide adequate shower rooms and bathrooms. Others might drop the campus GPA but become relatively low-maintenance tenants with a tutoring class or more stimulation from a music concert or jousting tournament. The same principle applies to the faculty. Highly qualified employees come at a price, namely a salary, but they also need on-site amenities like break rooms to let off steam. Completing these requirements will unlock Kudosh, the in-game currency required to purchase new decorations and amenities.
But therein lies the challenge of Two Point Campus. All of these programs require m oney and budget space is limited. Being careless with renovation permits can quickly run you out of cash, especially on campuses with a high-maintenance student body. You can borrow money when your wallet is empty, but when it comes to interest payments, you quickly get into hot water. This balancing act is frustrating at times, but an effective gameplay loop and one of the main reasons I enjoy playing Two Point Campus so much. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can change the game speed or pause altogether to have time to solve problems, or just focus on designing without the pressure of the in-game calendar.
Two Point Campus has robust creation tools that allow me to design most things to my desired specifications – inside and out. I especially love the new pathing tools as I prefer to build food parks and gardens outside of my academics. However, sometimes I wish I had more flexibility in placing decorative items like plants or rugs without worrying about collisions with other objects. It would also be great for stacking smaller items on top of larger ones like desks and tables.
Despite its dark inspirations – privatized education – Two Point Campus never feels callous. More ideological than anything, it depicts a world where business and people thrive together. Profit and expansion are undoubtedly critical to the experience, but you can only achieve these goals by creating a world-class environment for students. That’s not to say that Two Point Campus shys away from low-hanging fruit; His signature British humor is at its best when he’s poking fun at students and faculty. But ultimately, Two Point Campus is a deeply immersive management sim that doesn’t force you to strike, and it’s more fun.