Two Point Campus is built on the very same foundations that the excellent Two Point Hospital was. In fact, it does feel a lot like Two Point Games slapped a new theme on their hospital management game and called it a day. That’s an oversimplification, of course – a lot of work has gone into Two Point Campus, it’s themes and a few new mechanics. But it’s important to temper your expectations going into this second entry in the growing Two Point County universe because if you do then you’ll discover another satisfying, enjoyable management title with plenty of fun changes under the hood. If you want the shortest possible review, then here it is in all of its cliched glory: if you liked Two Point Hospital, you’ll probably like Two Point Campus.
You’re no longer watching a steady trickle of patients moving through the various stages of diagnosis and treatment within a hospital before inevitably dying in the corridor because their treatment room is on the other side of the building. Instead, you’re now the administrator of a series of University campuses where students will enrol and remain for several years before graduating, giving you some time to learn about them and their peculiar habits. Not that you’ll ever become too invested in their little lives – you’re here to make some cash and the happiness and success of the idiots in your charge is simply a byproduct of that goal. Jesus Christ, this really is a university simulator.
The campaign follows the same template as Two Point Hospital, shifting you from one location to another with the goal being to achieve at least one star out of three before moving on to the next. To do that you’ll need to construct a successful university by plonking down lecture rooms, hiring staff, decorating the place, holding special events and hopefully producing a generation of smart, eager graduates who can venture out into the world with an in-depth knowledge of Cheeseball, spy craft or how to cast a powerful spell. At the very least they’ll hopefully pay their tuition fees before crashing and burning.
Two Point Hospital could suffer from a sense of repetition as you moved from hospital. Sure, the illnesses changed but everything else looked the same and felt the same. For this sequel, Two Point Games has put a lot of emphasis on trying to make each scenario feel unique. Venture to totallynotHogwartswepromise Spiffinmoore, for example, and you have to run a school of witchcraft and wizardry, complete with an NPC that keeps cursing the campus so that students turn into pumpkin-headed idiots. Although sadly the place winds up being far safer than Hogwarts ever was, which isn’t saying much considering it was a school that considered sending people into the Forbidden Forest for detention was a good idea.
Meanwhile, another university focuses on educating its students in traditional knighthood, including coursework in jousting, etiquette and combat. One of the most interesting challenges is a campus where students don’t pay rent or tuition fees, instead you get paid every time they level up. It actually proved to be a real test of my admittedly shite management skills and forced me to rethink my strategy a few times. Or you might run a spy school, or an archaeological university where the students wear their very best Indiana Jones cosplay and dig up artefacts you can sell for profit. It’s a varied and fun selection offering both visual and mechanical changes and because of that, I felt a lot more inclined to play through the whole thing and go back to each level in order to earn more stars.
But that doesn’t excuse the baffling decision to lock sandbox mode away until you complete the first four locations, scoring at least one star on each i. For a significant amount of people sandbox/freeplay is the primary reason for playing, and keeping them from it until they’ve achieved this feels daft.
Like its Theme Hospital inspiration, Two Point Hospital was a quirky, fun and hugely charming game. I’m happy to say that Two Point Campus is just as lovable, if not even more. I ended up spending a lot of time zooming in on students and watching them go about their lives in my poorly constructed schools from Hell, admiring the effort that went into their animations. Just about everything in the game is pun, joke or parody, from the names of the students and the staff to the lessons themselves. Even the fabulous voiceover lady and radio stations are back, spouting heaps of fun lines, although like before there isn’t quite enough of them.
Everything comes down to the student body and keeping them happy as they are the biggest source of income in the entire game. They’ll pay tuition fees and rent, but a huge portion of your cash flow comes from the XP Bonus, meaning every time a student levels up you get some coins in your pocket. You need to hire the best teachers, ensure they can study in the library, offer private tuition rooms and generally keep their Learning stat as high as possible. In turn that also means attending to their basic human needs like going to the toilet, bathing, eating, entertainment and relationships. Failure to meet these requirements means less money and low grades, and may even cause students to leave. In short, humans are needy little bastards, and students can even have their own personal requests for a variety of things like throwing a party in the student lounge or a special two-person jumping bed. Try not to consider the implications of that.
A cool new feature is Clubs that your students can sign up for. These bestow a bunch of handy benefits on the folk who sign up, like the Power Napping club letting them have a quick kip to restore their energy or the Power Walking club increasing their movement speed and health. There’s even the slightly creepy Orb club that pushes the orb as the perfect shape. Sure, it reduces its member’s happiness levels, but everyone who signs up pays you money! Surely no harm can come of that. And who doesn’t like a good campus cult?
So how exactly do you go about attending to these needs and building a successful campus where students can thrive in a mixture of drunken stupor and frantic studying five minutes before the test is due. Every campus uses a few basics, starting with a dormitory. Whereas a real university typically lets each student have a room shared with another person, Two Point Campus explicitly states that one bed can serve up to five students, so your dorm will more likely resemble a military barracks. Next, you’ll probably want a lecture hall, perhaps even splashing out for some posters and an autocue machine. And then every course requires its specific teaching room along with the relevant teacher, so that might be a robot construction lab or a Cheeseball stadium. A library is also a staple, letting students study and complete assignments. Private tuition rooms are another solid addition early on, especially to help out any struggling students. And in the middle of all this, you also need to consider throwing down snack machines, seating so that people can socialise and so on.
The actual act of building all this stuff is the same simple grid system, so throwing down rooms, moving them about and sprinkling a variety of vending machines is a breeze. There is one fun change, though; you can now freely design your own campus buildings. Two Point Hospital gave you preset buildings to work with and whenever you bought a new plot of land you’d be given a building with it. For Two Point Campus the whole system is more flexible. Sometimes you’re given a building to start with but you can freely add to it or even delete parts of it, and when you buy a new plot of land you can opt for it to b empty or pay a little extra to have it come with buildings. I won’t lie to you, however, even with the freedom to design a beautiful campus building I mostly ended up making squares and rectangles. Boring? Yes! But efficient!
One key change is how room Prestige is handled. This basically dictates how nice a room is, which in turn affects students’ happiness, their learning rates and how your staff feel. Two-Point Hospital had a problem where buffing room Prestige often boiled down to spamming a few objects over and over again. In Two-Point Campus the system has been tweaked so the Prestige rate drops for every copy of an item placed, encouraging you to use more variety. It’s a solid change to the system but it does still suffer from the same core issue as the first game, which is that building rooms frequently comes down to cramming as much stuff as possible into them. That problem is most apparent in the items that provide boosts to learning rate because their effects stack, so if you really want to min/max then Lecture Halls end up with enough surround sound speakers to power a Rammstein concert.
The whole Kudosh concept is back, too, acting as a secondary currency that can be used to unlock new items to decorate your campus with or boost other effects. Kudosh can come from a bunch of sources, like achieving career goals or earning stars. But it’s vital to remember that some key items that students need to complete assignments or that higher ranking club members want are also locked behind Kudosh. It isn’t something the game makes immediately clear, so it’s easy to spend Kudosh on cool stuff early on only to end up with unhappy students later on when you can’t unlock the specialised bookcase for the library or add a special item to a classroom.
After a full season of learning the Summer Break arrives, but it isn’t a period of rest and relaxation for you because it comes with a few extra opportunities. It’s the best time to spend Course Points, earned by levelling up your campus, on either upgrading the existing courses you offer or introducing a new course for more variety. That can mean having to meet specific requirements such as more lecture halls and more teachers, but some subjects can share rooms, including the handy General Knowledge course which you can research. It’s also a time to allow students and staff to rest and recharge, although I do think it should happen automatically without having to fast forward time.
Earning a single star in each level of the campaign is a breeze, largely because the game treats that first star as more of a tutorial for that campus’ themes and mechanics. Once you begin chasing the second and third stars on each level the experience becomes much more challenging and interesting, pushing you to drill down deeper into menus that you may never have ventured into before. That might include altering tuition fees, fiddling with the student intake and application rates, assigning specific teachers to rooms, being more hands-on with staff management, sending students to private tuition or even booting them out if their grades aren’t high enough and learning how to maximise the space available. It can get hectic at times, but never to the point of becoming frustrating or unparsable.
There are a few annoyances that have carried over from Two Point Hospital, specifically in the A.I. It’s infuriating to watch a student’s happiness crashing because they’re bursting for the toilet and need a wash but refuse to walk across campus to use the toilets. It all comes down to understanding the systems behind the game and remembering that the game’s people don’t behave like real humans. To you or me it might seem simple to go for a toilet break, but for the game is telling them there isn’t enough time in the schedule to walk across campus to the bathrooms and so they’ll simply continue to exist in some sort of pee-related Hellscape. The remedy involves spreading smaller bathrooms across every building so that staff and students alike have time to attend to the necessities. Even then, though, some students will be remarkably belligerent when it comes to looking after themselves.
It’s a trend you’ll spot across everything in the game. Stuff needs to be spread out unless you can carefully channel students through certain areas, otherwise they’ll become grimy, bored and bursting for the loo. It’s a good thing you can copy, paste and save room templates, making it much easier to quickly setup a new building on the campus. But even with that ability, you’ll have moments where you’ll feel an overwhelming need to scream at your students or wish you could hire security guards to forcibly carry them into the washroom.
There are some other bugs and issues, too, although nothing serious enough to ruin the game. Students and staff will occasionally get stuck in corridors or Lecture Hall settings might get overridden. The biggest issue I encountered was students supposedly queueing for pastoral or medical care while the staff members mill around inside doing nothing.
Two-Point Campus is a delightful and quirky strategy game that’s breezy enough to be enjoyed by all and just about deep enough to keep even the most hardcore strategy fans engaged. But unsurprisingly, and as cliche, as it may be to say, your enjoyment or lack of enjoyment will come down to how you feel about Two Point Hospital. At times, Two Point Campus does feel like a reskin rather than a whole new game, at least until you get a few campuses in and can start to appreciate the differences more. If you did spend dozens and dozens of hours running hospitals, Two Point Campus is going to be just as good of a time with a fun new theme.