Two Point Campus review

When basing games around the education system, developers clearly have their work cut out to create something relevant to worldwide audiences. Canis Canem Edit is a good example, developed in the UK, and yet, it featured US terminology. A game set in a university environment must pose a bigger challenge still. US universities are known for sororities, messy spring breaks, beer pong, and toga parties. A stark contrast to the UK, where students are renowned for surviving on a diet of beans on toast. That, and waking up at 3pm to watch Countdown.

Two Point Campus gets the balance more or less right – beer pong, student union parties, daft sports mascots, and the chance to forge a relationship guaranteed to last until the end of term.

Developer Two Point Studios could have taken the Two Point Hospital blueprint and simply swapped medical treatment rooms with university courses. While there are some similarities with its predecessor – and those who played it, especially on console, will be at an advantage with the controls– it’s far beyond being a retread. It builds upon it significantly, changing the core structure and fully embracing university culture – right down to creating dormitories with tacky posters. Only here, a janitor will gladly clean your dirty duvet instead of your doting mother.  

It’s structured around yearly terms, which duly last from August to July. Students enrol in courses the current university specialises in, coughing up tuition fees and spending money on hotdogs, arcade machines, and whatever facilities you provide. They’re a demanding bunch, even threatening to quit if the right nurturing environment hasn’t been created. It’s this list of requests that partly provides something to focus on. Mission objectives are equally engaging, such as obtaining average A+ grades, or certain hygiene ratings. Some of these can be time-consuming, and all must be completed before earning a star – required to unlock the next location and progress.

At the end of the year, you’re presented with an award ceremony that reveals pass rates and so forth. Success sees a bag of cash head your way, along with course upgrade tokens – which essentially grant a higher footfall of students next term. Between terms is an ideal chance to build and buy local plots, with several room types – from libraries to shower rooms – being essential. As such, over the course of a couple of hours, a typical campus will triple in size.

The flow of cash is well-judged, being remarkably steady – enough to splurge on decorative items, but you may have to save to buy a new land plot. Having too many personnel or expanding too quickly increases the chances of plunging into debt. Money can also be earned from impromptu inspections and corporate mascot visits, so coffers are often topped up.

Kodush is somewhat harder, and more time-consuming, to acquire – required to unlock new items, some of which are essential for a student’s education. It’s worth mulling over what to invest in next.

Entertainment must be balanced too – the students aren’t just here to learn. It’s possible to hold events, parties and stage shows in the student union, while the lecture halls double as impromptu cinemas – with more film genres coming available over time. Holding an event can have some advantages, such as inspiring students to study harder. Failing that, placing a few Crazy Taxi cabinets around will stop the suggestion box from overflowing with gig demands.

Easily Two Point Campus’ biggest feature is that each university is themed, making no two alike. After the opening university has been mastered, you’re presented with a culinary arts school in which students can partake in cook-offs, and later clown school courses can be added to the roster. A couple of universities have a focus on outside education too, including a medieval-themed university with jousting and duals, and a comedic sports campus where every student has an obsession with air conditioning and hitting the gym.

There’s a riff on Harry Potter too – a university for wizards, dabbling in the dark arts. So many ginger-haired students all in one place. Each location brings its own challenges to the table, with the sports endeavour having a tournament to win and the Hogworts-esque castle being cursed.

Visually it’s bright and appealing, with some humorous details that are easy to overlook. Radio personalities help keep the comical tone present throughout. The control system is about as good as it could ever be with a joypad set-up – a touch finicky when it comes to making room edits, but mostly well thought out. Small text is the biggest sin here.

Things become more complex over time, but never frustratingly so – you may have to invest in security to deal with ne’er-do-wells, or regulate temperature to keep everyone happy. One university is handed over while in debt, requiring a loan to recover. These hurdles are introduced gradually, subtly adding extra layers.  

Two Point Campus provides a smooth, often amusing, experience – and with each university taking around 3-4 hours to simply achieve the bare minimum, rest assured that you’re in for the long haul. It has hidden depths to additionally explore, especially if you start examining timetables to indulge in micromanagement and go all-in on researching upgrades. With a double-whammy of requests and objectives to focus on and the tantalising prospect of starting anew in a different location with its own challenges and discoveries, it makes for a wholly compelling experience.

Like a student wired on energy drinks before an exam, you’re going to be kept awake way past bedtime. Where to next, Two Point? A studio this creative must have plenty of ideas in mind for future management games. Whatever it might be, we’re ready to enrol.

Two Point Campus is out now on all formats, published by SEGA.

SCORE
9

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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